Bessborough wrapped up the Middlesex Championship title with one week to spare on Saturday with a comfortable six-wicket win over Perivale Phoenicians at Headstone Manor.
Bowling first, Bessborough made early inroads into the Perivale line-up and never let them off the hook, dismissing the visitors for 117 inside 38 overs.
Summing up the collective effort of the season every bowler claimed at least one wicket, with three for Menesh Gunalan (3-34), two each for spinners Rohan Karkhanis (2-18) and Mitesh Vyas (2-32) and one apiece for Vivek Patel (1-9), Rishi Patel (1-12) and Ramesh Gunalan (1-0).
In reply, Bessborough made an uncharacteristically nervous start to stand 49 for three at tea, but a calm 60 run partnership between Rishi Patel (42 not out) and Sherrick Chavda (35) erased any fears to help complete the job in 25 overs.
News of defeats for nearest rivals Wycombe House and Old Actonians confirmed Bessborough’s return to the Middlesex County Cricket League after a three-year absence and sparked raucous celebrations in the clubhouse.
It was a fitting send-off for departing overseas player Jigar Shah who has cemented his legendary status at the club with outstanding contributions with both the bat and gloves. 'Jigs' scored 553 league runs this season at an average of 46 and claimed 17 dismissals, including one stumping. Bessborough hope he will be back in 2015.
The party atmosphere in the club cranked up with the return of the 2s who beat South Hampstead in a thriller to rekindle their hopes of going up.
Adil Parker, fresh off the plane from an educational tour of Las Vegas, smashed 62 in an opening stand of 75 with Urooj Ahmed (13). Useful contributions from Sanil Shah (23), skipper Phil Bush (22) and Rohan Desai (29) enabled Bessborough to set a reasonable, but still very gettable, target of 187.
South Hampstead’s reply was built almost entirely around number three Tanveer Abbas (108) who was defiantly bludgeoning the Bessborough attack as his partners quickly came and went.
His was the last wicket to fall and the manner of his exit will be long remembered by those playing. Attempting another big hit off spinner Ahmed, Abbas looked to have done enough to clear the ropes, but the fast retreating Sanil Shah managed to get his hands on the ball and hurl it back IPL-style to Parker before he toppled over the boundary. That wicket gave Urooj his second five-fer (5-39) in just five games for the 2s this season.
A loss for second-placed Enfield against leaders Osterley opens the door to promotion from the Middlesex County Cricket League Division 3.
To go up Bessborough will have to beat Wembley at Headstone Manor next week in the final game of the season and hope that Enfield can only manage a winning draw at most away to relegation-threatened Brentham.
The third XI were beaten by five wickets away to Southgate to confirm their relegation from the Middlesex 1987 League Division 1, but despite that disappointment the growing team spirit within the side bodes well for next season.
Sammy Hawes made a case for his permanent elevation to the team with a gutsy 24 in an opening stand of 58 with young all-rounder Hamish Jeyacumar (23), while Ian Ridley (30) and Tom Newland (21) both showed they are just as capable with willow in hand as with the ball.
The fourth XI also rekindled their own promotion hopes with a resounding 144-run win against Old Actonians.
The bedrock of Bessborough’s innings was a fine debut century for Adil Patel (100) who shared stands of 63 with skipper Sahil Hathi (31), 77 with William Gill (39) and 91 with Wasi Ali (54) on the way to a commanding total of 265 for four declared.
Bessborough had plenty of options in attack and soon made inroads as Ravi Vyas (2-21) grabbed two early wickets. Wickets continued to fall but there was always the nagging doubt that Old Actonians would hold out for the losing draw that would extinguish the season as the overs ticked away.
Fortunately, off-spinner Akash Patel stepped up with his best figures of the season to claim four for 26 in a mesmerising eight-over spell that helped secure the win.
Bessborough now need to beat league leaders S.K.L.P. away next week and hope that Stanmore lose to Turnham Green & Polytechnic to finally escape from the Middlesex 1987 League Division 5.
The Sunday side, no doubt with a few players nursing hangovers from the previous evening’s revelry, were well beaten by Ruislip in the Dukes Chess Valley League Division 3, losing by 110 runs.
With one week of the season to go there is still plenty to play for and hopefully, along with the 1s going unbeaten for the entire season - something not even Peter Doole can remember happening before - there will be further reason to celebrate come next Saturday.
Last and by no means least, everyone at Bessborough wishes our much-loved scorer Sue Barrie a speedy recovery from her operation. The quality of the first eleven’s book has gone down immeasurably in your absence Sue so please hurry back ASAP!
© Cricket World 2014