Harshesh says farewell with top score to spearhead win over Catus

Harshesh Bhatt, a leading run scorer for Midi CC over the last three seasons, bade farewell to the club with a blistering 96 runs to spearhead a 59-run victory over old rivals Catus CC in a home friendly on Sunday 1 October.

The victory kept Midi’s unbeaten record at their new ground, ‘Fortress’ Pouzolles – five wins from five matches, three in the Blevins Franks Regional League and two friendlies.

Harshesh, who will be leaving the area to study for an MBA in Nice, was cruelly deprived of a deserved century when, going for a big hit, he skied an easy catch to a close fielder. But his innings, which included three sixes and 11 fours, helped set Catus a respectable target of 193 in the 35-over match.

Catus, who were a few players short, opened their innings at breakneck speed, racking up 100 runs in only 10 overs but wickets started to fall when Midi captain Dom George brought on spinner Naeem Abbas and medium pacer Tahir and the away side fell short, dismissed for 133.  

Catus, who had dramatically lost to Midi at home by one wicket in a league match this season, put the home side in to bat and got their reward when Naeem was caught for 12 with the score on 29.

But Harshesh joined Louis Parry and the pair put on 29 runs before Parry was run out going for a second run with the score on 58. He scored 25 runs, which included five fours, and, along with George (11) and Shebaz (16), stayed with Harshesh to help Midi move to 192.

Catus were soon in trouble at four for two wickets, both falling to Sharjah. But he then proved expensive as Farouk join Peter Stirling and the pair looked set to take the away side to victory, ably assisted by a rash of wides, before Naeem came on to bag Stirling for 18 and Farouk for 29.

Naeem mopped up the tail, taking four wickets for 39 off six overs, ably supported by Tahir who took two for 22 off six overs. Sharjah finished with 2 for 40 off three overs.

Midi will be aiming to keep their unbeaten run at home when they wind up the season with a double-header against Catalan visitors, Barca Internationals – a 40-over match on Saturday, 7 October, and a T20 on Sunday. Both games start at midday.

Eymet shatter Midi’s dream of second-place finish in league

Midi CC’s dream of a second-place finish in the Blevins Franks Regional League was brutally shattered by Eymet CC on Sunday 30 July with a nine-wicket mauling which gave them the title at the expense of Bordeaux-Giscours.

Midi CC came into the match on neutral territory in Toulouse in fourth position after a dramatic one-wicket win over Catus CC the previous Sunday.

Once again, after deciding to bat first, Midi’s lower order came to the rescue after their three leading run scorers failed to fire and half the side were out for only 47.

But this time the recovery led by Shajar Abbas who top scored with 35 and Tahir Mohammad, who was undefeated on 25, was not enough and Eymet, who had been sitting one above Midi in the league table, chased down the 156-run target with more than half of the allotted 40 overs remaining.

Midi had won the toss but the decision to bat backfired when both Captain Ankush Lal and Naeem Abbas fell for ducks and Harshesh Bhatt was bowled for 15. Only dogged opener Paul Rogers provided any resistance and it was his resolute defence of his wicket at one end which allowed Midi to post a reasonable score.

The Midi stalwart was finally out for 21, the eighth wicket to fall, having stayed at the crease for nearly two hours, caught at deep mid-wicket off spin bowler Tim Chancellor who returned Eymet’s best figures of five for 24.

It was Rogers who gave Midi some early hope when he had Eymet opener David Horlock caught by Shamraiz Arif Muhammad with the score on 19 but sadly that was all the opposition could offer Midi as wayward bowling provided them with a feast of runs.

Opener Ed Nicolson hit an unbeaten 70, which included four sixes and eight fours, supported by Ahmed Jewel who was not out 62.

Midi’s bowling figures do not make for pretty reading and your correspondent will not be sharing them with his readers.

The defeat however should not detract from a very successful Midi season, the first in the expanded eight-team league ended with Midi finishing in fourth position with four wins and three defeats – three wins coming at the new ‘fortress’ home in Pouzolles where Midi are now undefeated after also beating Andorra CC in a friendly in early May.

High points of Midi’s season were the one-wicket victory away to Catus where all seemed lost until the tail wagged and the incredible home win over Toulouse where Midi racked up a record 375 runs which included a record 232-run partnership between Naeem (119) and Harshesh (130).  Sadly, the match was curtailed by rain with Midi eventually winning on superior run rate.

For final league table and full results go to: http://www.cricket-sw-france.org/accso-tournaments/tournament-results-2017-1/.

Midi beat Catus for first away victory of the season

Midi CC’s tail-enders produced a breath-taking comeback to defeat Catus CC by one wicket on Sunday 23 July to land the club’s first victory away from home this season and keep alive their  hopes of finishing as runners-up in the Blevins Franks Regional League.

Midi have now moved up to fourth spot in the table and if  they beat third-placed Eymet CC on Sunday they will wind up the season second behind Bordeaux-Giscours, a great finish in the expanded eight-team competition. 

All looked lost against Catus when, chasing a moderate target of 159, Midi sank to 82 for six wickets with their three best performing batsmen – Captain Ankush Lal, Harshesh Bhatt and Naeem Abbas – all out, only Ankush (20) getting into double figures.

But for once the Midi tail took up the challenge and Omit Iqbal and Ajmal Ajmal, coming in at number seven and eight, destroyed the Catus bowling, hitting eight sixes as the score accelerated to 146 for eight, only 13 runs from victory with 10 overs to spare.  

Omit, who had scored 75 earlier in the season, was the first to depart on 30, bowled by Shaqib, followed by Ajmal with the score on 146, beaten by Catus best bowler Rahim, but not before he top scored with 33.
The stage was set for a nail-biting finale but Shamraiz Arif Muhammad and Tahir Mohammad were resolute and took the score to a tied 158 when Shamraiz was bowled by Rahim for 11. There was more drama when Tahir survived an LBW appeal before hitting the winning boundary and leaping in the air in wild celebration. He finished with 10 not out.

Catus had earlier won the toss and decided to bat and would almost certainly have set Midi a smaller target if the visitors had not dropped three relatively easy catches in the deep, two off their highest scoring batsmen, Bappy, who hit 56, and Rahim who was dismissed for 41.

Midi had Catus deep in trouble at 19 for four before Bappy and Rahim steadied their ship with a 94-run partnership.

They were both victims of Naeem, who wisely discarded his medium pacers for off spin to record four for 35, his best figures this season.

Midi’s other three main bowlers all chipped in with two wickets – Shajar with two for 36 off seven overs, Ankush with two for 37 off seven overs and Paul Rogers with two for 48 off five.

Midi have now won four of their six league matches, three of them at Fortress Pouzolles, where they are unbeaten, and were standing fifth in the tight eight-team league on 89 points before the Catus match. For the latest table and results go to:  http://www.cricket-sw-france.org/accso-tournaments/tournament-results-2017-1/


League leaders St Aulaye too hot for Midi

League leaders St Aulaye brushed aside Midi CC in their top-of-the-table clash on Sunday in searing heat, convincingly winning by 108 runs after forcing a dramatic collapse when the visitors seemed on target to victory. 

Midi, unbeaten this season at their new ground in Pouzolles, continued their losing streak on the road and after having their match against Eymet CC on 25 June postponed to 30 July, and with Bordeaux-Giscours,  Toulouse and Eymet registering victories, they have now slipped to fifth place in the Blevins Franks South-West Regional League title (for full updated results and league table: http://www.cricket-sw-france.org/accso-tournaments/tournament-results-2017-1/ ).

Wayward bowling from Midi after sending St Aulaye in to bat engineered the defeat, none of the strike bowlers able to make an early breakthrough. This allowed St Aulaye’s opening batsman Zain Khalid to score a brilliant 123 and set the foundation for the home team’s triumph.

St Aulaye had looked well on the way to making 350 plus with the score on 170 for two after only 20 overs but once Zain had departed, the run rate dropped and Midi’s enthusiasm in the field was reflected in three run outs and four brilliant catches in the deep.

This was exemplified by Joe Whitworth, whose never-say-die running in the 30 deg C plus temperatures was rewarded by one of the run outs..  Naeem also produced one of the catches of the season, running along the boundary rope to pouch a huge hit.

Midi’s best bowlers were Captain Ankush Lal with two wickets for 52 runs and Shajar with two for 55.

Midi’s run chase started disastrously with openers Paul Rogers (0) and Tahir (2) back in the pavilion with the score on 8. But as so often in previous matches, Ankush and Midi’s Mr Consistency, Harshesh Bhatt, steadied the ship and took the score to 99 before Ankush fell LBW one short of his half century.

Harshesh Bhatt, top scorer with 53

Harshesh Bhatt on his way to a score of 53

With Naeem joining Harshesh – and following their 232-run quickfire partnership against Toulouse earlier in the month – Midi could still sniff victory.

But when Harshesh departed  for 53 with the score on 134, caught after mishitting a ball from slow bowler Irfan, shortly followed by Naeem who went for 3, Midi’s hopes faded. The last six wickets tumbled for only 38 runs, only Ajmal providing any resistance with a stylish 21. Irfan was St Aulaye’s main destroyer, brought on late, but ending with five wickets for 29 runs.


Midi hit a record 375 to beat Toulouse and go top of the league

An afternoon storm so nearly deprived Midi CC of the full points for victory in their home match against old rivals Toulouse but their visitors reached the required minimum 20 overs before the match was abandoned and on a superior run rate Midi are now top of the Blevins Franks South West League.

It was an historic day for Midi with both Harshesh Bhatt and Syed Naeem Abbas posting centuries. They helped Midi compile a record 375 runs after being put in to bat under grey skies by Toulouse who were sitting in second place in the league just ahead of Midi before Saturday’s match.

The win meant that Midi have now won all four matches – three of them in the league – on their new ground at Pouzolles. The club’s 26 points (20 for the win, 5 for batting, 1 for bowling) gives them a total of 82 points, 14 ahead of Toulouse and 19 ahead of St Aulaye who did not play at the weekend.

Toulouse, who have consistently beaten Midi in previous seasons, went desperately close to winning this match, battering 190 runs for three wickets before the rain set in. Their run rate after 20 overs was 9.5, very close to Midi’s 10.14 in 37 overs, reduced from 40 after a rain break.

Midi gave no hint of the fireworks to come after making a disastrous start. Without Captain Ankush Lal and seasoned campaigner Dom George, a drubbing looked in prospect with the score on 15 for three. The top order  – Paul Rogers (4), Omit Iqbal (0) and Joris Verdaasdonk (0) – were all back in the pavilion thanks to some fine bowling by Philippe Fermanel and Rayhan.

But once Harshesh and Naeem (pictured below) had settled in, the runs started to flow and after 21 overs, they had pushed the score past 200.

Midi’s two century makers, Harshesh Bhatt (left) and Syed Naeem Abbas.

Naeem was the first to go with the score on 247, caught by Toulouse captain Brett Trudgett, his 119 runs including 10 fours and 12 sixes.

The 232-run partnership with Harshesh was the highest in Midi’s 12-year history and was made all the more meritorious after Midi’s early collapse.

Man-of-the-match Harshesh, whose 73 had steered Midi to victory against Damazan CC in the previous game at Pouzolles, took his score to 130 before being bowled by Fermanel. His mammoth innings included 18 fours and five sixes.

Adnan (23), Ajmal (20) and Pierre Zivanovic (8 not  out), helped push the score along to 375 for nine wickets, a formidable target for Toulouse to chase.

Toulouse went on the offensive from the start with both Rayhan and Brett Trudgett taking to Midi’s bowlers. Only acting Captain Paul Rogers was able to stem the run flow, his superb and miserly 1 for 37 from the allotted seven overs saved the match for Midi.

When Trudgett was brilliantly bowled for 41 by Sayed in the 13th over with the score on 122, it was left to Rayhan to keep the run rate ticking over. Ultimately his undefeated 81 was not quite enough to clinch victory for Toulouse when the heavens opened and the match was abandoned with 20 overs completed.

Midi President James Luckes, who watched Midi’s victory, was elated by the performance. “This is a terrific achievement, considering the fact that the Pouzolles ground was only established this year. I feel sure that having the new ground has given a tremendous boost to the team.

“The game on Saturday was sadly rain affected and would probably have been a close run and high scoring finish had it run to a conclusion. Still, for Midi to knock up 375 runs without several of the regular players was great to watch and it shows now that there is depth in the team. All very exciting for the future.”

For latest results and league standings go to: http://www.cricket-sw-france.org/accso-tournaments/tournament-results-2017-1/

Midi bounce back after Bordeaux loss with home win over Damazan

Midi CC put their heavy away defeat to Bordeaux behind them with an exciting four wicket victory at home over Damazan CC on Sunday to keep in the hunt for league honours this season and stretch their unbeaten record at the new ground in Pouzolles.

Midi made it three straight wins at Pouzolles and are in third place in the Blevins Franks Regional League thanks to a 134-run stand between the club’s man of the match Harshesh Bhatt and veteran Dom George who came together with the home team struggling on 21 for three wickets as they chased a 220-run target in the 40-over match.

There was a stutter when both George (54) and Harshesh (73) were dismissed with 57 runs still to make but Naeem Abbas and Louis Parry steadied the ship – Naeem hitting six fours in an impressive 27 not out, while Parry resolutely defended his wicket, ending with six not out.

Midi were in all sorts of trouble at the start of the innings with both opener Ripu and Captain Ankush Lal out for ducks to Damazan’s rampant strike bowler Gagan. With Paul Rogers also back in the pavilion for eight when he looked set for a big score, Midi’s faithful followers were expecting the worst.

But within 18 overs, Harshesh, who hit eight fours and three sixes, and George, with eight fours and one six, had moved the run rate from three an over to a comfortable six, leaving the remaining batsmen a comfortable target of four an over to seal victory. Naeem reeled off three fours in the 36th over to wrap up the match with four overs to spare.

Midi’s victory, which now gives them two wins out of three in their 2017 campaign in the Blevins Franks Regional League, was all the more meritorious after Damazan’s incredible start when, after winning the toss, they raced to 100 without loss after only 10 overs.

Damazan looked on target for a 300-plus score with their opener Shiraz Moby hitting the Midi attack to all corners of the ground. But after he was bowled by Ankush for a quickfire 81, the run rate slowed and up stepped Paul Rogers who grabbed three key wickets with his swing, for a niggardly 19 runs.

From 187 for two when opener Richard Lytton was run out for 53, Damazan collapsed to 219 for eight, their last 10 overs yielding only 14 runs. Both Naeem (2-68) and George (0-40) who opened the bowling for Midi and suffered at the hands of Moby, returned to help stem the run flow while Ankush with 2 for 48 from eight overs, and Ken Miller with a miserly 0-20 from his five overs, gave solid support.

For the latest results and current league table go to: http://www.cricket-sw-france.org/accso-tournaments/tournament-results-2017-1/

Midi have 56 points from their three league matches, four points behind Toulouse whom they play in a crucial match on Saturday, 3 June. 






Midi hit the wall after flying start to 2017 league campaign

Midi CC’s marathon journey to Bordeaux and back in one day was sadly punctuated by a six-wicket defeat at the hands of Bordeaux-Giscours CC who seduced the visitors into defeat with a sumptuous spread at the tea interval complemented by local wines from the chateau whose beautiful grounds provided the venue for Midi’s demise

After the thumping 137-run defeat of Mansle CC in the opening league encounter at Pouzolles the previous Sunday, Midi Captain Ankush Lal was optimistic after winning the toss that he would be able to set the home side a challenging target. He was also able to field a full side for the 14 May match, something of a rarity in Midi’s travels in previous seasons.

But his heady hopes of a first away triumph in the enlarged South West Regional League were soon dashed. After 10 overs Midi were 13 for four wickets, the top order gone at a giddy run rate of 1.3 an over.

The experimental opening pair of veteran Paul Rogers and Dutchman Joris Verdaasdonk fell to the potent Bordeaux strike force of Ramiz and Muhammad, both gone for no score with two extras on the board. Joris, who had promised so much with his 19 in an opening partnership of 78 against Mansle, followed Rogers, both surviving the first three overs before being cleaned bowled in the next two overs.

Ankush, Midi’s saviour on so many occasions, fell to an unfortunate run out with the score on six and when Midi’s other consistent run maker Harshesh Bhatt was caught on three, Midi were staring at a sub-50 score.

But young Bangladeshi Hasan Uddin dug in stoically, defending his wicket as if his life depended on it and allowing his partner Naeem Abbas to get the score moving along. At the 20-over drinks break, Hasan, who took almost an hour to get off the mark, had watched Naeem move the score along to 43 for four.

The drinks didn’t help Midi and Naeem (18), Louis Parry (0) and Hasan (5) all went quickly and only American import Ken Miller with a swashbuckling 18, including one almighty six, provided any late resistance.

Miller was the last man out, offering up an easy catch after realising that his last-wicket partner was club Secretary Reg Gratton. A frustrated Gratton was left stranded, needing only 100 runs for a maiden club century.  Bordeaux’s late-order destroyer was Luqman Safi who returned his team’s best figures of 4 for five.

Bordeaux’s run target was a relatively easy 73 runs and after an early scare when Midi snared the two openers for ducks, the home side rattled off the runs with 18 overs to spare and four wickets down.

The good news for Midi is that the club remains in second position on the league table, behind St Aulaye who have won their first two matches. Because Midi were dismissed cheaply, Bordeaux picked up no batting points, while Midi picked up one bonus bowling point putting them on 29 points. Bordeaux who were docked 28 points pre-season after a breach of discipline in a match last season are in seventh place, ahead of bottom-placed Catus CC who have lost their first two matches.

For full details of tournament results so far this season, go to the ACCSO link on their website: http://www.cricket-sw-france.org/accso-tournaments/tournament-results-2017-1/

Midi’s match against Damazan CC at Pouzolles on Sunday is vital to keep Midi in the hunt for honours this season. The visitors have won their only match and sit in fourth place on the ladder, five points behind Midi. The start time is 12 noon and the bar will be open.



Midi CC celebrates new ground at Pouzolles with two victories

Midi CC made the perfect start to the 2017 season at its new ground in Pouzolles with two emphatic victories – a 137-run defeat of Mansle CC in the expanded South-West Regional League on Sunday, 7 May, which backed up an easy win in the annual friendly against Andorra CC the previous day.

Midi, so used to heartache and pain in its league campaigns, can now travel to Bordeaux next weekend for a first away encounter with confidence high and cheered by the form of the club’s debutants.

Young Bangladeshi batsman Omit Iqbal helped lay the foundation for Midi’s crushing win over Mansle with an opening stand of 78 with Joris Verdaasdonk, who relished the rare opportunity of striding out at the top of the order after Midi won the toss on a blustery, cloudy day.

Omit smashed 75 runs, seven of them sixes, in his 10-over partnership with Verdaasdonk, who compiled 19 runs before being bowled by Rubesh.

Omit’s top score allowed Captain Ankush Lal (20), and two other debutants, Ripu Mohamed (30) and Syed Naeem Abbas (27), the breathing space to take the home team’s score to a formidable 220 for five wickets after 25 overs.

Though Mansle pegged Midi back in the latter stages of the 40-over match with some fine bowling from Captain Remi Rocher and Rubesh Muraleederan, the final score of 288 in 39 overs proved too daunting for the visitors who were rueing their wayward bowling which yielded a frightening 64 wides in an extras total of 85. Thirty of the wides came from boundaries.

Mansle started the run chase slowly and two early wickets had them struggling at 17 for two after seven overs.  Captain Rocher’s run out dismissal for the second wicket was bizarre.  The ageless Dom George took what looked like a spectacular diving catch at square leg only for the ball to spill out of his hands behind him. Rocher thought he was out, started walking and Ankush Lal taking a throw from wicketkeeper Harshesh Bhatt, who had retrieved the dropped ball, performed the simple task of taking off the bails.

Though opener Rob Tilbury tried to push the score along, after he was dismissed for a top score of 23, no other batsmen made double figures as Mansle slumped to 151 all out in 24 overs.  In contrast to Mansle, Midi conceded 30 extras, 23 of them wides.

Ankush followed up on his three wickets against Andorra the previous day with 4 for 39, supported by a late cameo from American import Ken Miller which yielded 2 for 6 in eight balls, one a sharp stumping by Harshesh. Strike bowler Naeem posted figures of 2 for 41 from his seven overs.  

Midi’s solid 162-run victory over Andorra CC the previous day was helped in large part by man-of-the-match Ankush who led by example hitting a brilliant 103 not out and taking three wickets for a miserly 11 runs as the home team set a formidable 283 run target in the 40-over match.

The visitors from the tiny Pyrenees Principality, who have made the opening match of the season a regular event on Midi CC’s cricket calendar, had no answer to Midi’s four strike bowlers, Naeem, Louis Parry, Ahsan Uddin and Ankush who had Andorra reeling at 50 for six before a late revival. A solid 30 from tailender Mike Howard pushed the score to a more respectable 120 in 30 overs.

Ankush was the pick of Midi bowlers while debutant Parry, a recent arrival in the Herault from Brighton in the UK, took 2 for 16 and also chipped in with a useful 21 in the Midi innings.

Lucas Zivanovic, a product of Midi’s youth programme, who has now won a regular place in the senior team, was the second top scorer behind Ankush, the young Frenchman spending over an hour at the crease for a well-crafted 25 runs.

The victory over Andorra, an annual game always played in great spirit, provided a good test for the home side ahead of their league match against Mansle.

The new Playrite track which had been laid a fortnight before, played well despite the lack of rain which hampered the setting of the concrete base. A dedicated group led by the new President James Luckes and former President Colin Trickett had toiled for more than a month to lay the foundation for the new track as well as mowing and rolling the huge outfield.

Go to the Midi Cricket Club site on Facebook for a gallery of photos from the weekend matches