Hosts bounce back from shaky start with the bat to maintain 100 per cent start to season. Full report:
Another winter survived, a pre-season endured and whole summer of cricket ahead of us, we took to Corfton Road for the first game of our 2019 League campaign, a home encounter against a strong North Middlesex side.
The week’s spring showers meant the wicket was soft underneath, Kristian winning a big toss and inserting our visitors, who quickly found themselves 20-2 with a wicket apiece for Glas and Chad.
Scoring wasn’t easy, but North Mid started to rebuild, Harry Stow steaming down the hill on League debut in Ealing colours; Ashley Sivarajah twirling away from the bottom end. A shower came and went, bright sunshine interrupted by a violent hail storm that passed before the umpires had even had a chance to discuss the icy interruption. We were in total control, the overs ticking by and boundaries hard to come by on this inclement Saturday in early May.
But we were going to have to bat second on this pitch.
Stowy made the breakthrough, clean bowling the opposition number four and sending him back to the pavilion with an outburst worthy of a first League wicket. Lawsy then entered the attack, trapping the dangerous Flowers in front for a well-constructed 38, then continuing a pattern of being a veritable Jonty Rhodes off his own bowling, dismissing number five with a sharp caught and bowled.
We were on the brink now, and at 96-5 we were well and truly on top.
But North Middlesex showed their resilience, Vanderspar and Nicol playing a perfect combination of defence and attack against our spinners, accumulating 60 in the next 10 overs to dig their side out of a big hole. Another shower came in and the covers came on. The sky was as dark as our moods – 100-5 was now 160-5, and with less than ten overs to go could we hold our visitors to a par total?
Nicol holed out to long on and Vanderspar was bowled by Stow trying to Buttler his way over short-fine leg. The balance had shifted once more, and thanks to some brilliant death bowling and good fielding, we conceded just 30 runs from our final seven overs. To be chasing only 178 when a score of over 200 seemed likely at one point certainly gave us the upper hand. But would it be enough?
“This pitch is very North Middlesex-y.” Someone said it. I can’t remember who, but someone said it.
At 0-1 and 36-3, it became clear this run chase was going to be tricky. The North Middlesex seamers – famed for their ability on damp, uneven London pitches – were clearly very at home on their first away trip of the season. Keeper up, seam wobbling, Ealing batsmen in difficulty.
Chad (17) and Shawsy (18) had patiently seen off the new ball, but both fell to first change seamers, 179 still a very long way off.
This brought together our new overseas pairing of Bailey “Stumps And” Capel along with Ryan “Barrel” Farrell, who set about rebuilding. And if you thought that two Aussies would probably run well together coming from the same desolate island on the other side of the world and speaking the same language and everything…well you’d be 100 per cent wrong.
Our afternoon in the dressing room became applauding every Bailey cover drive and Farell pull shot, but then having to cover our eyes as Bails called his partner through for a tight single or tried to run a two that even Usain Bolt would struggle to make, only to be sent back by his countryman.
But the pair were doing the job. Drinks came and went and the runs required ticked down. Spinners came into the attack and couldn’t find the break through, and with a run-a-ball required for the final 10 overs the game was finely poised.
Both batsmen went to maiden ECC fifties in consecutives balls, the Ealing faithful on the benches around the ground momentarily abandoning biting their fingernails to applaud two extremely valuable innings’.
But the game wasn’t over yet.
Barrel, bowled. 20 required off 16. Bailey, caught. 14 required off 12. We’d come so close, but we still needed some magic to get us over the line.
Five needed off the final over.
Cue: Andy Laws. First ball is wide and short and disappears over cover. We were on the edge now. The field is up. “Stranger things have happened,” says the keeper. But not today – Lawsy dispatches the second ball of the over to the mid-wicket boundary with a Pietersen-esque flick of the bat, and the Ealing crowd erupts. A victory from the jaws of defeat, and a very strong North Middlesex side vanquished in an epic encounter that will give the whole side a lot of confidence for the 2019 campaign.
“We knew one overseas player wasn’t going to be enough, so we got two.” - Kristian Martin, 10.05.19