Rampant Rogers shines as Midi upset Catus

Vice-captain Paul Rogers produced a master class of swing bowling to inspire a shock victory for Midi over Catus CC on an away weekend which also brought defeat at the hands of Toulouse CC.
The strike bowler wrecked the Catus top order as the home side chased Midi’s meagre total of 113, returning season best figures of 5 for 28 in overcast conditions with slow bowler Gaurav Chatterjee mopping up the tail with a superb four-wicket spell which yielded only three runs.
But it was Rogers who helped erase the memory of the previous day’s thrashing by last year’s league champions Toulouse after Midi had crawled to 113 against Catus, reaching three figures thanks to captain Ankush Lal, who led by example, top scoring in both matches.
Catus went down by 52 runs as Midi turned round a poor performance in the field against Toulouse, with wicketkeeper Harshesh Bhatt outstanding in snapping up two catches and effecting a vital stumping.
Midi’s astonishing victory gives the club a chance of winning the ACCSO Regional League Southern Pool for the first time with a return match against Catus CC on 26 June now looming as the most vital in its 11-year history.
Sadly, if Midi win at home it could mark the last league match at St Pons de Mauchiens as the club must search for a new ground after the Mairie elected to lay a rolled earth Tambourin strip on the oval, making cricket almost impossible.
In gloomy conditions, with rain a constant threat, Midi won the toss and decided to bat against Catus, a team who had beaten the formidable Toulouse by five wickets in their only other league match this season and who had never lost to Midi at home.
The miserable record on the road looked set to continue with Midi’s top order crawling to 42 in 11 overs, bogged down by tight bowling from the home side, particularly Artik whose four-wicket haul included opener Rogers for 2 and club stalwart Dom George who grafted a dogged 8 as he and Ankush added a vital 53 runs after Midi had slumped to 49 for four.
It was Ankush who once again saved the day for Midi, moving to 53, with two sixes and five fours, before falling LBW to Rahim and triggering a dramatic Midi collapse which saw the last six wickets tumble for only 9 runs.
Harshesh was the only other batsman to make double figures (15) and Midi’s five ducks had the Catus team licking their lips at another dismal drubbing.
But the wily Rogers had other ideas. His first over removed the two openers and three overs later he despatched another two, supported by George who clean bowled the dangerous Rahim, who had top scored with 97 against Toulouse.
Catus slumped to 34 for six and looked hard pressed to make a half century. But their lower order batsmen Andy Pound and Steve Taylor staged a mini revival before Gaurav mopped up the last four batsmen with a two-over spell that yielded only three runs.
Midi’s stunning win was in sharp contrast to a lethargic display against Toulouse on the Saturday when Midi let the home side off the hook, conceding 170 runs in the last 20 overs. Ram Khumbar returned Midi’s best figures with 3 for 58.
Midi never looked like chasing the 294-run winning target and with half the side back in the pavilion with 124 runs on the board and 27 overs gone, respectability was the only option.
Ankush top scored with 44 in the 149-run total and only Gaurav (14), Harshesh (13), Rogers (12) and Marc Dalling (10), made double figures in the 144-run defeat.
Midi scorer Reg Gratton who has chronicled his team’s mostly painful league exploits on the road over the last six years promptly labelled the Catus victory as a high point and noted that this away weekend was one of the few when the club were able to field a full side on both days.
Midi also had both outgoing President Marc Dalling and Treasurer David Amoros on hand to watch Midi’s remarkable result. The victory follows the club’s record three league wins in the 2015 season – one over Catus at home – and confirms the view that Midi has the strongest squad in its history.
“This result makes it even more vital that the club survives and our top priority now is to find a new ground to allow the club to continue,” said President Dalling.


Midi CC at the double against Andorra despite late resistance

Midi CC put the disappointing loss against Toulouse behind them with two fairly comfortable victories over Andorra CC in a friendly double header at their St Pons de Mauchiens home ground on 14 and 15 May.

Paul Rogers, at the helm in the absence of captain Ankush Lal, steered Midi home by eight wickets in a 40-over game, then followed it up with a 36-run victory over the tiny Pyrenees principality in a 20/20 match on Sunday.

Harshesh was the key batsman in the first encounter, hitting an unbeaten 51 after openers Nick Allison and Jason Armstrong laid a solid foundation for his swashbuckling innings as the home team chased a 142-run target.

Pierre20/20 man of the match Pierre Zivanovic wearing the Andorra cap presented by captain Jon Houghton.

But it was Midi’s young Frenchman, Pierre Zivanovic, who stole the show in the second match top scoring with 45 in an unfamiliar role as opener and helping Midi set Andorra a formidable target of 179, a run rate of nearly nine an over.

In fine but windy conditions, Andorra opened the batting in the first match, and it was another teenager, 17-year-old Dan Carrington, who shone for his team going in at number 10 with the visitors in desperate trouble at 53 runs for eight wickets.

Skipper Rogers was the principal destroyer, removing three of the Andorran top order in his first four overs. Unlike the previous week in the match against Toulouse, he found immediate line and length, beginning his spell with a wicket maiden and finishing with superb figures of four for 20.

Rogers was supported by fellow slow bowler Allison who removed most of the middle order and finished with a miserly four for 12.

But it was Rogers who finally despatched the dangerous Çarrington with a caught and bowled after the youngster had figured in an 88-run partnership with Daniel Le Mare who was last man out, caught by wicketkeeper David Amoros for 29 off Allison.

With a fairly modest target, Midi’s openers Allison and Armstrong decided to dig in and lay a foundation for a later onslaught. The Midi innings moved ahead at a snail’s pace with 25 posted in the first 10 overs.

Armstrong, returning after a year’s sabbatical, played some of his trademark glances as he progressed to 18 before falling to spinner Harry Cull, ushering in American import Ken Miller who hit a cameo 13 runs, with one enormous six, before making way for Harshesh.

Harshesh decided he had already taken a look at the bowling and with the solid resistance of Allison at the other end, carved a brilliant unbeaten half century which included five 4s and two 6s, sealing victory with eight overs to spare. Allison also remained unbeaten on 40 which included five 4s.

Midi’s run-chase task was made easier after the drinks break at 20 overs when a rain squall made the strip fairly treacherous and prompted the Andorran bowlers to change their run-up.

There was no hint of rain for the 20/20 match the following day and under a perfect, cloudless sky, Midi sent in the young brothers Zivanovic to open the batting for the first time.

It was an astute move by Rogers, for while younger brother Lucas went to a controversial slip catch by Cull, Pierre went on to hit his highest score, supported by Rogers who belted three 4s and four 6s on his way to a solid 42.

After he was bowled by Dan Carrington, the ageless Dom George joined Pierre, and smashed a quickfire 36 before opting to retire and give the lower order the chance to have a bat.

Pierre was the last out, hitting five 4s and two 6s on his way to a best-ever 45.

Ram Khumbar (11) and Ben Morgan (10) took the Midi score from 156 for four to 178 in the allotted 20 overs.

It was a score that Andorra never looked like surpassing and at 86 for eight after 15 overs, the outcome looked like an emphatic defeat.

But Harry Cull, 58 not out, and Australian Steve Jerome, 43, served up the most exciting stand of the weekend, hammering 56 runs in just over five overs to take the visitors score to a respectable 142.

Andorra voted Pierre Zivanovic as their man of the match, not only for his innings but also for bowling Jerome and returning figures of one for 20. But it was George with three for 12 and Gaurav, two for 19, who did the principal damage, with Joris Verdaasdonk also contributing with two for 24.



Midi’s hopes of a dream start doomed by a wides’ nightmare

Midi Cricket Club came tantalisingly close to a dream start in their 2016 campaign against last season’s league champions Toulouse CC but a plethora of wides at the end handed the visitors victory by one wicket in a thrilling see-sawing match.

Midi won the toss on a fine, sunny day but gloom quickly descended on the St Pons de Mauchiens ground when the decision to bat saw four batsmen back in the pavilion for a disappointing 31 runs.

Openers Paul Rogers and Nick Allison both went cheaply for 8 and 5 and when Toulouse’ dangerous strike bowler Chris Srikanth sent back Harshesh for 5 and Gaurav for a duck in the same over, Midi were looking at a sub 100 score.

But new captain Ankush Lal and the ever-dependable warhorse Dom George (pictured above during his innings) steadied the Midi ship to lay the foundation for a reasonable target in the 40-over match.

The pair, who topped the batting averages last season, put on 56 runs before Ankush was caught and bowled by Rayhan for 43, a superb innings which included four 4s and a 6.

George battled on and though losing partners and retiring hurt for a spell with cramp in his thumb (sic), he top scored with 83 not out, steering Midi to 214 all out in the 38th over.

George’s innings included 13 4s and three imperious 6s. Ram Khumbar (11), Joris Verdaasdonk (7) and Lucas Zivanovic (5) all provided gritty resistance at the other end to help Midi pass the 200-run mark.

Skrikanth was the pick of the Toulouse bowlers with figures of 4 for 34.

Toulouse started their run chase at a gallop, hitting 39 runs in the first five overs and with the score on 132 for three and under half of the allocated overs bowled, looked on course for an easy victory.

But the introduction of slow bowler Gaurav stemmed the run flow and with the support of George, Rogers and Ram, Toulouse were pegged back and the wickets started to tumble.

Toulouse lost five wickets for 44 runs with Gaurav fittingly trapping top-scorer Pankaj LBW on 68 to have the visitors struggling on 166 for seven wickets, still 49 short of the winning target.

Midi were smelling the sweet scent of victory when the eighth wicket fell. With only 10 men in the side, Toulouse last two batsmen needed 39 runs.

But somehow Midi contrived defeat. Wides had already given notice that they would have a hand in the result and this proved to be the case. Fourteen were presented to Toulouse in the last few overs, the winning run not surprisingly going to this irksome extra.

Midi’s two best bowlers, George (2 for 36) and Gaurav (1 for 14), conceded only four wides in their 14 overs of the 47 conceded by the home team. Ram also contributed with 2 for 38.

Captain Ankush was not too disheartened by the defeat in his message to the team ahead of the friendly double-header against Andorra CC on 14 and 15 May.

“We lost but it wasn’t an easy match. A lot of pressure from the beginning. We all tried our best and that all counts first.

“Hats off to Dom for the great innings with the bat and bowl. He made us able to give a good fight! Gaurav was just amazing today who gave us a great comeback in the game with Ram. It was very close in the end.

“We needed to be more disciplined in the bowling (specially me). Extra runs ruined the day for us. And we lost our major wickets in the beginning. Going forward, let’s try to have more patience in batting and rely more on singles, doubles and ground shots.”

Saturday’s match against Andorra CC at St Pons starts at 1pm.