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Bessborough blown away by Harrow

Mitesh Vyas, who hit 53 and then took four wickets for the second XI
Mitesh Vyas, who hit 53 and then took four wickets for the second XI
©Bessborough CC

It was a case of going from feast to famine for Bessborough’s first XI on Saturday as they were skittled for only 81 runs by Harrow - a week after scoring their highest total in nearly two years.

Having been put in to bat the Bessborough line-up, so used to batting on perfect batting tracks at Headstone Manor, never got to grips with a sticky wicket caused by a torrential overnight thunderstorm.

Only four players made it to double figures while the same number bagged ducks. Of the Borough batsmen only Hemmen Jutla, with an unbeaten 15 at number seven, could say he performed to anything like his potential.

Harrow only needed three bowlers and 22 overs to dismiss their hosts. Pazman Agha was the star of the show with five for 29.

At the very least the Bessborough bowlers made their opponents work for the victory, with five wickets shared between Neal Patel (3-24), Rohan Karkhanis (1-24) and Jay Chavda (1-26) before the inevitable winning runs were scored in the 16th over.

Bessborough are now without a win in five Middlesex County Cricket League games and need to treat this latest defeat as a serious wake-up call if they are not to get dragged into a relegation battle. The side is now second from bottom - 13 points ahead of North London who they travel to next week in the reverse fixture from the opening week match that Bessborough won by three wickets.

As bad as the 1s were the second XI were in equal measure very good, finally finding their mojo to pick up their first win of the season at the ninth attempt with an emphatic 107-run win away to Kenton. Just the tonic for absent skipper Phil Bush who was undergoing minor surgery in hospital.

Batting first the Bessborough batsmen racked up their highest total since at least 2011, putting on 296 in 51 overs at Kenton’s admittedly postage-stamp ground. The foundation for the victory was laid by solid partnerships between the top four with William Grogan (53), Mitesh Vyas (53) and Vivek Patel (73) all reaching half-centuries.

Spinner Vyas (pictured), with his confidence no doubt boosted after being promoted up the order and delivering with a first ever senior half-century, then played a key role in securing the 10 points in the field with four for 62.

Paceman Rohan Desai bagged three for 42 with some aggressive short-pitched stuff while all-rounders Eranda Jayasinghe (2-1) and Kibreeth Rameez (1-31) did the rest as Kenton were all out for 186 in 41 overs. Gihan Pallage (0-19) went unrewarded for a quite brilliant spell of nine overs that had the Kenton batsmen at a loss and undoubtedly helped bring about wickets for his team-mates.

The win and manner of the performance shows just how good this side could be and it will hopefully spur them on to maintain that standard through the rest of the season. There is no time to relax as the 2s are still bottom of the MCCL after closest rivals Harrow also won - against leaders Southgate no less - but a decent run over the next few games will put Bessborough in among the mid-table pack.

Ian Ridley’s third XI picked up four points after getting a winning draw at Headstone Manor against South Hampstead. Ridley once again lost the toss and for the fourth week in a row was asked to bat first.

Richard Edmands joined Ridley at the top of the order as the pair put on 73 at a decent rate before the captain was dismissed just three runs short of a second consecutive half-century.

The club’s leading run scorer James Wheeler joined Ridley back in the pavilion after making just four after he was caught behind off the bowling of Siem (3-63).

Dinal Kadawathage joined Edmands and the pair responded to the loss of two quick wickets with a counter-attacking partnership of 80. After struggling a little early on, Edmands went through the gears as he reached his second half-century of the summer.

It was a surprise when both were dismissed by Dion Nortje (2-55) in the same other with Edmands falling for 56 and Kadawathage for a well-made 40.

Vinay Bhudia and Nandesh Patel raised the run-rate even more with some brutal hitting as they looked for a declaration. A partnership of 83 was only ended when Bhudia was caught at long-on for 37 shortly before Patel scored his first half-century (50 not out) of the summer in the final over as Ridley declared on 268 for six in 44 overs.

Despite a whirlwind 31 by South Hampstead opener Phillip Crosdale, the visitors were never in the hunt for the target and settled for a losing draw very early on. In 48 overs South Hampstead finished on 134 for four as they looked to defend their wickets rather than score runs for the majority of the innings.

Captain Ridley tried absolutely everything to conjure a wicket on a flat pitch, using seven bowlers with different tactics but with little success. However Ridley’s troops should be very happy of a tally of 24 points from the last 30 available. 

This weekend they take on the leaders of Middlesex 1987 Cricket League second division as they travel to Osterley.

The fourth XI’s promotion’s hopes took a slight dent on Saturday as they could only return home from bottom side North London 5s with four points from a winning draw.

Earlier in the day it had looked like they would return empty-handed. The start had to be delayed (and the toss conceded) as farcically most of the Bessborough team went to North London’s home ground rather than the rented pitch the fifth team uses 45 minutes away in Walthamstow.

Having quickly changed and rushed out both Bessborough openers Praekash Balendra (0) and Simon Heaney (8) were soon trudging off again and that shortly became 28 for three when Jamie Young (2) gloved behind.

Fortunately, all-rounder William Gill stepped up with a typically bludgeoning innings of 48 in about 25 balls before his nemesis from last season Vicky Burt (who got Will out for ducks in both games) had him caught in the deep with the first ball after drinks.

Burt (2-21) had earlier clean bowled skipper Richard Ward (6) and after the loss of Gill Bessborough were once again in trouble at 84 for five and looking like posting a below-par score on a bouncy pitch with a super fast outfield.

Another crisis, another hero. Richard Willson came in at number six and quickly injected some life back into Bessborough’s innings with his trademark leg-side pulls and flicks. The game-changing partnership was between Willson and young seamer Ravi Vyas (13 – his best for a senior Bessborough team) as the pair put on 76 for the eighth wicket to get the score up to 196.

Number 10 Aadil Raja (9) scored quickly before skipper Ward (who was umpiring at the time) declared on 218 for nine mindful of the lost overs from the late start, leaving Wilson stranded on 91 not out.  

After tea Bessborough opening bowlers, colts Vyas (3-46) and Young (3-31), were unlucky not to pick up early wickets as two chances were put down but the latter did finally remove Ben Scott (14) and then North London captain Ian Heptonstall (11) who was expertly caught by Heaney at short-cover.

North London’s numbers three and four Andrew Lockett (29) and Harry Heptonstall (46) took the sting out of the attack without taking any risks. That approach meant the home side were always some way behind the run rate and despite some late wickets the game finished as a winning draw for Bessborough.

On Wednesday, Bessborough entertained a 1987 Cricket League representative side in a timed friendly at Headstone Manor. After winning the toss on a scorching afternoon captain Ian Ridley chose to bat.

The opening partnership of James Wheeler and Simon Heaney put on 72 in just 10 overs before Heaney was dismissed for 52, his first half-century on the main ground.

Wheeler took over the main scoring duties as he reached his fourth half-century of the summer and in the process became the first Bessborough batsman to pass 500 runs this summer. He was eventually dismissed for 80 after putting on 96 with Harris Malik (60) who reached a personal milestone by hitting his first 50 in Bessborough colours.

Some late innings hitting by Richard Ward (19 not out) allowed Ridley to declare on what at the time looked a good score of 223 for five after 41 overs.

The contrast between the 1987 team’s distinctly average display in the field and with the bat could not have been starker.

Openers Nish Patel from South Hampstead’s first team took advantage of being dropped by Wheeler at slip early in his innings to murder the Bessborough attack and score 132 before he was eventually caught on the boundary by Heaney off Sharuban Kanthasamy (2-49).

Former Wembley player Ian Salter arguably played a better innings with a chanceless 79 not out. Kanthasamy picked up another wicket but it was in vain as the 1987 side comfortably won by eight wickets in a little over 25 overs with at least five balls being lost along the way.

The following evening the Barbarians returned to winning ways with a 25-run victory against Northwood Town, described by captain James Wheeler as the best result of the summer so far.

Northwood Town’s captain Krunal Patel won the toss on a gorgeous evening and somewhat surprisingly decided to field first but his decision looked justified as their opening bowler Jack Daly (4-8) knocked over Tharshan Kanagaraj (0), Paul Jarvis (1), Shiv Patel (0) and Sammy Hawes (0) to leave the Barbarians reeling on 12 for four.

Opener Richard Clarke and Captain James Wheeler rebuilt the innings with a stand of 35 in five overs before Wheeler was dismissed for 16 by Sumeet Keita (2-28). Clarke built his innings with a mixture of solid defence, well placed drives and savage pull shots as he looked to anchor the Barbarians innings.

The lower order of Sharuban Kanthasamy (16), Nandesh Patel (11) and Ian Ridley (20 not out) helped Clarke to post a competitive score of 140 in their 20 overs. Clarke was finally dismissed in the last over of the innings for a brilliantly compiled 61.

To have any chance of victory, the Barbarians would have to bowl and field better than they have done for most of the season and after a couple of tidy overs, Kanthasamy (2-32) clean bowled the dangerous Salman Rizvi for just nine.

With the game evenly poised the Barbarians medium pacers in the shape of Ravi Vyas (2-19) and Stephen Kimsey (1-23) put a stranglehold on the Northwood Town chase by picking up three wickets in the eight overs they bowled between them for just 42 runs.

Both Kimsey and Vyas picked up a wicket each thanks to a couple of outstanding catches made by Shiv Patel and Ian Ridley. Ridley’s effort was even more remarkable by the fact he commentated on himself going for the ball as it went high into the Harrow sky before dropping into his hands as he ran back from extra cover.

With Northwood Town’s chances fading rapidly, master death bowler Ridley was brought on to bowl the final four overs from the Pavilion End. He showed what a fine bowler he is by picking up two wickets for just 11 runs as he squeezed the life out of the Northwood Town reply as the visitors finished 24 runs short of the Barbarians’ total.

It’s a Barbarians double header this week as they travel to Watford Town on Tuesday evening before hosting RAF Northolt at Headstone Manor on Wednesday.

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