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Bessborough rediscover winning form

Urooj Ahmed
Urooj Ahmed
©Bessborough CC
James Wheeler hits out
James Wheeler hits out
©Bessborough CC
Neal Patel bowling
Neal Patel bowling
©Bessborough CC

Bessborough’s 1st XI claimed their first Middlesex County Cricket League win since the end of May with a vital 95-run victory over M.T.S.S.C. on Saturday.

Thankfully, the rain eased up enough for all five Saturday matches to go ahead although the moist conditions meant winning the toss became even more crucial than usual. First-team skipper Rohan Karkhanis failed in his first task when he called the wrong side of the coin and was put in to bat by the opposition, but thereafter everything else pretty much went to plan.

The decision to promote all-rounder Gihan Pallage to open in only his fourth game for the first team in the absence of regular Kushal Patel proved to be a masterstroke. Gihan and Ishan Shah brushed off the difficult sticky conditions with a confident opening stand of 82 before Shah was trapped lbw by Ashok Andrew (5-53) for 41. Gihan followed shortly after for a well-crafted 42.

Sherrick Chavda (34) provided some stability at number three but none of the other batsmen were able to build on starts as Bessborough’s stumbled in the middle overs to 154 for six. Some useful late order runs from Neal Patel (16) and Kibreeth Rameez (24) pushed the total up to a respectable 210 all out after 55 overs.

The same duo seemed to take confidence from their batting performances into their bowling as fast bowler Patel grabbed five for 35 in 12 overs while Kibby claimed four for 11 from nine overs of spin as M.T.S.S.C. were blown away for 115 all out in 39 overs.

The win, coupled with last-place side North London only picking up one point from a losing draw at South Hampstead, means that Bessborough stretch their points advantage over the bottom-placed side to 13. A win in next week’s home game against third-placed Barnes, a side they beat by four wickets in May, would go a long way to easing their relegation fears.

The second XI welcomed back overseas player Urooj Ahmed (pictured), whose performances at the end of last season very nearly got the side promoted. This time around Urooj’s mission is to help save the side from relegation and while he did his best with four wickets and 48 runs the side could only muster a losing draw at home to M.T.S.S.C.

The away side posted a total of 222 all out from 50 overs, largely built around a fine 80 from Nishanth Selvakumar. Spinners Ahmed (4-60), Nitin Modha (3-89) and Mitesh Vyas (2-23) made the most of the seamer-hostile conditions.

Bessborough’s reply faltered at the start before a handy 73-run stand between Ahmed (48) and Alex Irani (23) put the side in a strong position of 138 for four before the former was run out and the latter perished almost immediately after. Two more cheap wickets had Bessborough fearing the worst but number seven Rajan Modha (21 not out) and number 10 Jay Chavda (2 not out) saw out the remaining seven overs without too much fuss.

Bessborough remain second bottom of the league but did at least extend the gap to Harrow in last place to two points as they lost to Wycombe House.

Next up for the Borough is a trip to third-placed Southgate who won by five wickets when the two sides met in the first encounter at Headstone Manor.

The 3rd XI picked up what could be a crucial four points in their battle for promotion from Division 2 of the Middlesex 1987 Cricket League at second-placed North London 4s.

Bessborough were asked to bat after captain Ian Ridley once again lost the toss. On a challenging wicket that offered the bowlers plenty, the away side quickly lost both openers Vidoosha Jayawardena (1) and Ridley (5) with the score at only 16.

The club’s leading run-scorer James Wheeler (pictured) was in at number three and even in a challenging situation on a difficult wicket he wanted to launch a counter attack.

On a ground the size of a postage stamp, Wheeler’s first two scoring strokes were flicked sixes off his pads. Wheeler found an able partner in Richard Clarke who was playing his first weekend cricket in a few years as the pair rebuilt the innings.

The pair put on 44 before Clarke was dismissed for five and he was followed shortly back in the pavilion by Vinay Bhudia (2).

With wickets continuing to fall, Wheeler continued to play his shots, mixing solid defence with some brutal stroke play as he raced to his sixth half-century of the summer. Sujan Sivakumar (15) and Sahil Hathi (10) offered some support but they were both dismissed after playing some positive shots.

With the Bessborough innings faltering at 145 for seven, Wheeler found an ally in wicket-keeper and senior-pro Peter Doole who joined him at the crease. The pair put on 63 with Doole leading the way in the partnership with his highest score of the season of 32. Wheeler continued to attack and brought up his second ton of the summer with another six into the leg-side.

With overs running out Wheeler launched a further assault, including two massive sixes into the neighbouring Crouch End Cricket Club. He was finally dismissed in the penultimate over for 133 in an innings which included 19 fours and six sixes. Last man Thanuka Jayawardena (8) hit two boundaries before the team was dismissed for 240 in 47.1 overs.

North London’s Asif Raza looked to lead the charge by striking the opening ball of their reply for six into the tennis courts off Stephen Kimsey (0-16). After a couple of overs, Ridley introduced spinner Clarke (2-40) and he quickly got into his stride by picking up the wicket of Raza (27) who smashed the ball back to the bowler for a sharp caught and bowled.

Vice-captain Hathi, who had opened the bowling at the other end, was giving the North London batsmen some early problems with his pace and a full delivery felled number three batsman Joe Beckett (5), forcing him to retire hurt with a suspected broken foot.

With the pitch drying it began to offer turn as well as some help to the seamers and Ridley turned to talented young spinners Thanuka Jayawardena (1-26) and Ajan Sivakumar (3-48).

The pair dried up the runs as well as offering genuine wicket-taking options with Sivakumar picking up three quick wickets, including a delivery to Brock Taylor (4) that beat him in the flight, pitched on leg stump and then hit the top of the off stump.

With North London content to save the game rather than trying to win it, Ridley mixed up the bowling as they searched for victory but the pair of Spencer Fowler (27) and Charlie Pearson (20) held firm to finish on 181 for six.

The 3s are now only nine points behind leaders Osterley 4s and could move into the two promotion spots if they beat second-bottom side Ealing 5s next week at home.

Remarkably, after only being able to field 10 players in the 4s in the previous week this time around Bessborough had more than enough for five sides – the first time they've been able to do so in a very long time indeed.

Rather than disappoint 11 players club secretary Richard Ward worked tirelessly to arrange a friendly fixture against Harrow St. Mary’s at Bushey Sports Ground for the fledgling 5th XI, while also taking charge of proceedings for the 4s in the 1987 league match versus promotion-chasing Old Actonians.

While both sides lost, it did go to show the depth of the club's playing resources and provided a great opportunity for more colts to get a taste of senior cricket.

One youngster that took his chance was Beavan Fernando who scored a fine 43 for the fourth team, while two more teenagers Ravi Vyas (2-29) and Jamie Young (2-32) continued their education with the ball in the same game.

For the 5s, every player except keeper Richard Willson had a chance to bowl and apart from too many wides being conceded a number of players showed they are capable of playing at a higher level.

Swing bowler Aadil Raja was the most effective with three for 18, while John Trowbridge rolled back the years with two for 20, including the prized wicket of Aman Maan (23) who we had loaned to HSM – in hindsight an error of judgement on the part of skipper Simon Heaney as Aman also bagged two wickets.

Batting wise, Heaney top-scored with 31 while of the newbies Saif Raja (17), Rebant Ruparel (12) and John Willson (20 not out) did well enough to suggest it might be worth putting out a fifth side more regularly.

Sunday’s Lords Chess Valley Sunday League game against Chipperfield Clarendon was a victim to the atrocious weather.

The Barbarians also returned to winning ways with a decisive 10-wicket win over Watford Town at Headstone Manor last Thursday. About the only thing that went right for the opposition captain Grant van Quickleberg was winning the toss and electing to bat.

However, he was soon regretting that decision thanks to an excellent opening spell from Stephen Kimsey (3-23) and Harshil Sumaria (3-24). Kimsey struck with only his third ball clean bowling opening batsman Syed Atta for nought.

It got better for Kimsey in the following over when he dismissed the dangerous Gulfraz Riaz for only 11 as he was brilliantly caught behind by captain James Wheeler. Wheeler was having a good day behind the stumps as a few overs later he stumped Chris Hutchinson for only three off the bowling of Sumaria.

Watford Town continued to limp along and their plight was not helped by tight spells by the experienced pair of Ian Ridley (1-27) and Richard Clarke (1-17). Clarke, cheered on by two-year old son Henry bowled a tight spell of four overs for only 17 runs and picked up the wicket of Jidran Mohmmad (7) who was well caught by first-team batsman Ian Barrie who was playing his first Barbarians game for a few years.

Ridley chipped away at the other end and his spell was rewarded with the wicket of van Quickleberg (5) who he caught and bowled.

Overseas player Urooj Ahmed (1-19) who was making his first appearance of the summer only a few days from flying in from India was introduced at the Pavilion End and it was like he had never been away as he picked up a wicket with his first ball when he had Bilal (3) caught behind.

Kimsey returned to bowled the final overs at the death alongside Sumaria and the pair picked up another couple of wickets between them as Watford Town finished on 122 for nine off their 20 overs, thanks mainly to the innings of Ahsap Sajjad who hit 35.

The Barbarians reply started in the most positive way as Tharshan Kanagaraj struck three boundaries in the first over off Assad Sajjad (0-13). Kanagaraj alongside opening partner Hemmen Jutla continued to striker boundaries at will as the pair took full advantage of the power-play.

Even when the field restrictions were lifted, the boundaries continued to flow as the Barbarians raced to their target in just over 12 overs with Kanagaraj finishing with 60 not out and Jutla on 55 not out.

The final Barbarians home game of the summer is against Bushey at Headstone Manor on Thursday night.

© Cricket World 2015

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