Midi loses unbeaten home record in 83-run loss to Toulouse

Fortress Pouzolles is no more.

After going through its first season unbeaten at the club’s new home in Pouzolles, Midi CC suffered a first defeat in the Blevins Franks South-West Regional League, going down to old rivals Toulouse by 83 runs on Sunday, 20 May.

Midi scored a record 375 runs in the home win over Toulouse last season but was never in the hunt in this match after the visitors posted 280 for nine wickets from its 40 overs.

Midi, who finished a respectable fourth in last year’s league campaign, had gone into the first game of the 2018 season on the back of some regular practice under the expert tutelage of its American marquee player Ken Miller but some early wayward bowling and a few dropped catches allowed Toulouse openers Darshan and Rayan to lay the foundations for an emphatic victory.

It took a brilliant catch from resident Dutchman Joris Verdaasdonk off his own bowling to break the opening partnership sending back Rayan on 52 with the score on 110.

Darshan was next to go bowled by Miller with the score on 130 but with a run rate of nearly eight an over, Toulouse looked set for a formidable score. Miller, who took 2 for 22 off his five overs, Verdaasdonk (1 for 20) and captain Dom George (1 for 19) slowed the run rate down with the veteran all-rounder taking the vital wicket of Tanjil after a quickfire 48.

However, with grey skies moving in and thunder rumbling in the distance, a middle order burst produced eight sixes and took the Toulouse score to 280. It could have been more but for pace bowler Sher Ahmad who took three wickets in two overs in his second spell and ended with three for 50.

The rain threatened but never materialised and Midi, with four new players in the side, decided to play themselves in, the openers Biff Batstone and Shakeel Akram grafting a studious 35 in the first 10 overs before Batstone fell for three.

Shakeel stepped up the tempo in his first match for the club but Midi was always behind the run chase. When Shakeel departed after a solid innings of 63, which included four sixes, it was left to Ben Morgan (18) and Louis Parry (17) to shore up the innings and step up the run chase. But once they were gone and with the score on 152 for six wickets, Midi faced the nigh impossible task of scoring 129 runs off the last nine overs.

Miller (13) and George (19) edged the score towards respectability but Midi finally fell for 197 with George clean bowled and Mark Hayden stranded on five not out.

The match was technically a home match for Toulouse as their own ground was unavailable and it could be argued that as Midi was therefore playing an away match its unbeaten home record was still intact. But that’s ridiculous. Fortress Pouzolles is no more.

Midi will now have to lift its game for the second league match of the season, a home fixture against Eymet CC on Sunday, 27 May, but to be played at the Catus CC ground to lessen the travelling distance.

Dom George leads Midi CC once again

Dom George has returned to the captaincy of Midi Cricket Club for the third time in the club’s history following the departure of Ankush Lal and he will be leading his team out for the first match of the 2018 league campaign against old rivals Toulouse at the home ground in Pouzolles on Sunday, 20 May.

George, who has been a major force in the club both on and off the field since its inception in 2005, is hoping that the new recruits and pre-season practise sessions, impossible last season because of bad weather, will help the club improve on its fourth place finish last season in the Blevins Franks South-West Regional League.

“We were very close to winning it last year and despite losing Ankush, I think with the new blood we have a very good chance of finishing higher than last season,” he said.

Midi  were unbeaten last season at the new ground in Pouzolles, and have been buoyed by the response to the recruitment campaign among the local expatriates in the close season.

The 40-over match against Toulouse starts at 1 pm and given that last season’s home victory saw Midi score a record 375 runs in its innings, the club is hoping for good support. The bar will be open serving beer, wine and soft drinks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.