C.E.C.C.| Shepherds Cot | Crouch End | North London | N8 8JJ
Self-belief seems to be returning to the 4th XI. They were able to put out a fairly strong side which despite some moments of anxiety proved too strong for their hitherto successful opponents.
Crouch End were grateful for not having to field in the heat of the day. David and KK survived both a useful opening attack and the inconsistencies of the Church Road pitch to give a respectable start. KK started accumulating runs off the bad balls and, after David’s LBW and Nabil’s top-edged catch, enjoyed that most fruitful partnership of the day with Mo. After KK was caught on 65 and Mo bowled on 32 the biggest contribution to the score came from extras, Hikmatulah, with 13, being the only other batsman to reach double figures. Crouch End 166 all out after 39 overs.
North Middlesex had plenty of overs in which to get the runs but it didn’t look as if they’d need them as one of their openers flicked several balls from Ruskin towards or over the leg-side boundary. The furious pace continued until the opener sent a steepling catch into the safe hands of KK at deep mid on; and then the complexion of the game changed completely. Dhamendra started to bring some control to proceedings and Hikmatulah got a well deserved LBW to remove the other opener. North Middlesex’s batting started to look a bit soft. Des bowled one of them before suffering a shoulder strain. Mo replaced him and got another three, while Nabil (who had a good afternoon as replacement wicket-keeper) took a very smart stumping off Dhamendra. Suddenly North Middlesex were 7 down for 80.
It took a long time to get number 8. Eventually the batsman obligingly cut Dhamendra into David’s midriff at gully. The young boy at No 10 looked useful but Dhamendra disposed of him. However the final pairing, profiting no doubt from the fielding side’s assumption that the game was won, started to look comfortable and started picking up runs. Suddenly there was the real prospect of a North Middlesex win: the deficit was now below thirty and there were plenty of overs. Mo turned to KK for some spin, but 8 were scored off the over. Resorting to pace might win the game or lose it but Mo took the chance and gave Kevin the ball. He responded perfectly: he was fast and accurate and eventually with, only a handful of runs to spare, induced a rash shot that Doug, covering the ground with great determination, plucked from the air. There was an increase in the number and volume of ‘girly’ shrieks from Nabil and the game was over. North Middlesex 155 all out in 50.3 overs. Dhamendra 4 for 24 off 15 overs, Mo 3 for 23 off 11 overs.
So KK’s batting and some excellent bowling were the key factors. The low point was the ease with which concentration in the field can be eroded by what I think is called banter: recriminations are not very helpful at the best of times and certainly not while there is still a job still to do. There were several good catches and one piece of brilliant fielding. Kevin slid into the path of the ball as it sped towards the cover boundary: he clutched it as it bounced, spun onto his feet and arrowed in the return, all in the twinkling of an eye. It was like watching a Cruyff turn for the very first time.
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