Midi’s first darts night hits the target

Midi Cricket Club’s first major event aimed at diversifying its activities to become a genuine sports and social club for the expatriate community was deemed a resounding success after a darts night in Pouzolles on 22 February attracted nearly 30 people to play a game, feast on a variety of pies and down an English beer or a glass of wine.

Darts nightThe event, held in the Salle des Fetes kindly provided by the Pouzolles Mairie, was won by Ron Bennett of Autignac, who conquered all in a knockout competition to take home a gift voucher for Le Wine Shop in Pezenas. Beaten in the final was Anton Banulski, a new social member who has moved to the area from Melbourne in Australia.

Terry Gratton, the tournament referee, presided over a 301 competition with three dart boards in play.  Club captain and Treasurer Dom George called on his catering skills and, with the aid of a pie-making machine, delivered three types of pie – the meat and potato being voted the favourite.

Club President James Luckes, who has been the driving force behind the club’s initiative to broaden its activities and expand its membership, was particularly pleased by the turnout for the evening and proposed that another similar event be held before the league season starts in late April.  

The new ground in Pouzolles, to which Midi moved in late 2016, is now firmly established as the home of the only cricket club in the Languedoc and it was therefore appropriate that the club’s non-cricket activities be held in the village, whose Mayor Guy Roucayrol has shown great hospitality to the club.

“It is an excellent venue which I am sure we can use for other types of events,” the President said.

Among the number of thank-you emails received by Secretary Reg Gratton there was a suggestion that a regular darts evening could also include bar games like dominoes, bar skittles and Scrabble. The club social committee will consider this at its next meeting in March.

James Luckes is re-elected President to oversee club expansion

Midi CC has re-elected James Luckes as its President and, after a successful inaugural year in which he oversaw the move to a new ground and better facilities at Pouzolles, he pledged to help the club broaden its activities and expand its membership in what could be a watershed year.

He told the club’s Annual General Meeting in Pezenas late last month that the new ground was now firmly established as the home of the only cricket club in the Languedoc and would hopefully continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

“The committee is also now pursuing a new plan for Midi CC to become more of a sports and social club that will encourage other sporting and non-sporting activities to take place at Pouzolles,” he said.

With this in mind, the club had a presence at the annual Cracker Fair in early December at the Abbaye de Valmagne and those club members who staffed the stand reported great interest in the establishment of darts, croquet and petanque clubs under the club’s umbrella. The first such event would be a darts and pie evening in Pouzolles in February.

Anyone wanting to sign up as a social member of the club in order to participate in any of the club’s new activities should go to the club’s website (midicricket.com) and complete the application form.

The move to Pouzolles from St Pons de Mauchiens late last year had reaped its benefits on the pitch with the club unbeaten in its first season with five matches won at home – three league and two friendlies. ‘Fortress’ Pouzolles also produced a few records – a huge 375 runs in 37 overs in a league victory over Toulouse which included a record 232-run partnership between Harshesh Bhatt who scored 130 and Naeem Abbas who hit 119.

Midi’s fine form at home produced a creditable fourth place finish in the expanded eight-team Blevins Franks South West Regional League.

Midi played seven league matches and won four and could have finished second if they had beaten Eymet in the last game of the season. Eymet’s win gave them the league title. The eight-team format will continue in the 2018 season.

Sadly, the club has had to say goodbye to its captain Ankush Lal who has gone north to study for an MBA and to leading batsman and wicketkeeper Harshesh Bhatt who has also left to further his studies in Nice.

Both became popular members of the club and contributed in large part to Midi’s success on the field. Ankush in particular contributed to Midi’s successful move to Pouzolles and in ensuring that the club conducted itself according to the spirit of the game on the field.

At its AGM, Reg Gratton was re-elected as Secretary, Dom George remains Treasurer, Ken Miller retains his role as Vice-President  and former President Colin Trickett, Joris Verdaasdonk and Terry Gratton remain as ex-officio committee members. Mark Hayden and Louis Parry were also welcomed as new committee members, the former taking over the role of Fixtures Co-ordinator from Dom George.

It was decided that long-time Midi stalwart Dom George would assume the role of captain to replace Ankush Lal for the 2018 season, the AGM believing that a watershed year for the club needed someone who had experience and long involvement with Midi both as player and committee member.

The AGM consensus was that the club had to focus on recruiting both new playing and social members for the 2018 season in order to survive – it needed more local expats to join as players to forge a better balance with its South Asian players, who made up the majority of the team in the 2017 season.

It was therefore agreed that the membership fee for full members would be set at 30 Euros, reduced from 60. This would make it more attractive to become a player. It was also agreed to retain social membership fee at 10 Euros. 




Go Crackers – Midi CC needs you

Midi CC will have a stand at this year’s Cracker Fair on 2 and 3 December at the Abbaye de Valmagne, about 10mins’ drive from Montagnac.

The fair attracts thousands of visitors every year, will have more than 200 exhibitors and offers a fantastic range of food on site.

It will provide a great showcase for the club and will hopefully bring in more playing and social members. With the much improved facilities in Pouzolles, the club’s main focus ahead of the 2018 season is to broaden membership by promoting ourselves as a sports and social club.

The fair’s opening hours are 10am-8pm on Saturday 2, December, and 10am-6pm on Sunday, 3 December.

If you can help out at the stand, let the club know which of the two days you would be available and whether this would be in the morning or afternoon, or both. Contact reggratton@gmail.com




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.

Midi celebrate their first season at Pouzolles with a grand fete

Midi CC put on the biggest show in their 12-year history to celebrate the annual President’s Day on Sunday 27 August at their new ground in Pouzolles. The occasion was also another opportunity to thank the local Mayor, Guy Roucayrol, for providing them with a new home.

The club’s main fund-raiser attracted more than 100 people who feasted on fish and chips and hamburgers, bought raffle tickets, drank from the bar and played games as diverse as throwing the ‘welly’ and target golf.

   Joris Verdaasdonk at the raffle and bar stand

“It was great to see so much support, particularly from those at our old home in St Pons de Mauchiens, and the money raised ensures our survival, which means we can plan ahead for next season,” said President James Luckes, who took over the reins of the club late last year when its future existence was far from certain. 

The sun appropriately shone on the day – in fact it was too hot for some – and Midi committee members, players and a last-minute volunteer in Pam Hall contributed to the event’s success. Cancer Support France and Languedoc Living both had stands, the former selling second-hand books, the latter promoting the region’s premier news and events English-language website.

The new President and former President Colin Trickett were the prime movers behind the staging of a fete and they can look back on a momentous season for the club – not only a new ground with a new playing strip and great facilities, but also a best-ever season in the Blevins Franks Regional League and a 100 per cent record at ‘fortress’ Pouzolles.

                Lunchtime at the Midi fete 

Playing membership is at a record high which bodes well for next season after a fourth-place finish with four wins from seven matches, three of them at home. “But we are still looking for new members, particularly from the Pouzolles area, both playing and social, and that will be our focus in the close season,” said Mr Luckes. 

Midi was forced to move from its home of nearly 10 years in St Pons de Mauchiens late last year when the Mairie gave the go-ahead to the local tambourin club to lay an 80mx20m rolled earth strip on the cricket oval. It made any cricket impossible and left the club homeless.

Midi was ready to fold when Vice-President Ken Miller, a cricket-mad American who lives in Pouzolles and has built up a thriving catering business, made an approach to the Mairie on the prospect of taking over a disused, overgrown football pitch on the outskirts of the village for its new home.

   Time for welly throwing – right-hand corner 

The Mayor was receptive and the result was the club’s long-term survival and an official opening in late April marked by a crowd of more than 100 who were on hand at the new ground to join in the celebrations and thank a rather bemused Mayor for his village’s generosity.


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.