“Rumours that Phil Walker and Virender Sehwag were separated at birth are unsubstantiated. After all, Sehwag is known to have drunk coffee as part of his cricket tea. Walker wouldn't be seen dead doing such a thing”
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more" claimed Henry V in a famous Billy Shakespeare piece of prose. He ended his call to war by proclaiming that his troops should "follow your spirit, and upon this charge cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'"
Well, good for him. One can nonetheless be pretty sure that very little of that sort of talk will be heard around the pavilion on Twickenham Green on Saturday. Four of the five Twickenham sides already know their 2019 fates, and whilst the threes are not (quite) safe from relegation yet, it would take a quite perverse turn of events for them to end up in one of the two relegation slots.
Ones travel to Highgate
The ones finish their campaign with a trip to Highgate. The Gators have had a tough season in the top flight and regardless of the result on Saturday they will be returning to Division Two in 2019 (see here for the table). But, the Ts have been there, too, and our story should give Highgate plenty of hope that they can bounce straight back.
Carlos Nunes's troops have had something of an odd campaign. They have shown that they can beat anyone (two victories over Hampstead is good evidence of that), but, being brutal, there have been a few poor performances along the way, too. Currently the ones find themselves in 7th place but a win on Saturday and they could end up as high as 5th. A defeat and they could slip back to 8th.
Regardless of league positions some players have some personal milestones to aim for. Don Manuwelge needs 34 runs to reach 500 in the league this season (currently averaging 33.29), whilst Rhys Davies needs 70 to get to the same landmark. Clint McCabe, Gurjit Sandhu and Jacob Bhula have all got over 20 wickets, whilst Carlos Nunes, Tom Grundy and Manuwelge need just a couple more to get in to double figures.
2nds welcome Hampstead
The twos now know that they will indeed be playing second division cricket in 2019. However, an impressive late-season revival gives them plenty of hope moving forward.
Second-placed Hampstead (see here for the table) visit the Green in Week 18. Given that the Ts recently beat champions North Midd in a thriller there's certainly reason to think that the 2s might go out with a bang.
Ethan Wright leads the way for the 2s in terms of runs scored (318). Eugene Berger (242) and Phil Nash (237) are second and third, with Varad Rampal (231) just behind them. Saturday subsequently presents a good opportunity for everyone to do some (positive) damage to their seasonal stats.
Bowling-wise, Tom Field (22 wickets at 27) is the only player to have taken more than 20. Nakul Vishvanath, Berger and Field are the only other three bowlers to have taken more than ten. As with the batting, one last chance to brighten the team stats up before the seasonal curtain comes down.
Threes travel to HSM
The threes, meanwhile, are the only Twickenham side that won't be cantering towards the winter. They have business to see to.
As things stand, the third XI sit in sixth place in Division Two of the MCCL (see here). They therefore find themselves in the slightly peculiar position of being the highest ranked Twickenham side in any division and yet still in with a theoretical chance of going down. The ones and fours, in other words, are safe even though they are lower in their leagues than the thirds!
That having been said, Twickenham travel to Harrow School to face bottom of the table (and already doomed) Harrow St Mary's. Plus, if just one of North Middlesex, South Hampstead or Finchley fail to win then the Ts will automatically be safe. Even then, there is a scenario where all three of those sides win and the Ts lose but they are still safe (somehow). Let's not go there; threes' fellas, just do the business on Saturday.
Skipper Steve Watts has led the way with the bat this year and he is the only player to be over the 300 run mark. Connor Finney (237) has also done well, and with a fair wind and a good knock on Saturday he may even push Watts for the top run-scorer berth. Dom Thamby (18 wickets) leads the way with the ball and his recent resurgence makes one think there's a pretty decent chance he could end up with north of 20 wickets come 7pm on Saturday.
Fours welcome Perivale
The fours finish their campaign by welcoming Perivale to the Green. The Pheonicians are already promoted, although they still have the title to secure. They will no doubt be going all out to achieve that.
Hinay Dassani's men briefly flirted with promotion thoughts themselves, but that quickly got quashed on the head in mid-summer. The 4s seem to have a real problem with overs cricket (and tomorrow is an overs game); as things stand they haven't won a single overs game all year (see here). Thankfully they have proven to be much more proficient in picking up points in timed games; they have won five of those.
Batting-wise, birthday-boy Colin Blunden is the only player to have posted over 200 league runs (average 25.7), although fellow opener Usama Khan is just the one short of that milestone. Sarwant Singh (23 needed) and Karandeep Singh (32 needed) can also have realistic ambitions of leaping that barrier tomorrow.
Bowling-wise, the skipper has, as ever, led the way. HD has an impressive 43 league wickets to his name (at an average of 16.6). Praween Siriwardena has quietly helped himself to 15 wickets, whilst Mehran Iqbal - on the back of only two games - has 10. If HD could get Mehran out on to the field more frequently, then, well, the 4s would likely be much further north in the table!
5s travel to Kenton
The fifths finish a largely disappointing campaign with a trek around the North Circular to Kenton. On the field the 5ths have only managed the one win all season (although they have benefited from a couple of cry offs). That's left them in the relegation slots and looking at Division Four cricket next year (see here).
On the plus side, it has been great to see Phil Walker batting so well. He's not exactly reinvented himself as Virender Sehwag, but Walker's 271 runs at an average of 33 have been richly deserved. Indeed, his performances at the top of the order have almost certainly prevented the 5s from suffering an even more difficult season than the one they have had. Skipper Param Saini remains the only other player to have scored a combined total of more than 100. Bowling-wise, Param has led the way with the ball, taking 4-50 against Richmond back in May in an enthralling tied game. Ijaz Mehmood also sparkled briefly with the ball.
All in all, it's been a tough season for the Ts. But, everyone does at least have the chance to go out with a bang this coming weekend.
Go well, fellas.
Updated 08:46 - 31 Aug 2018 by Dan Hough