“The 5s struggled at Kenton. But at least there wasn't a repeat of the toilet-paper-gate episode from 2017. Be thankful for small mercies and all that”
Sometimes the final day of the cricketing season is full of tension and intrigue as sides battle to secure promotion slots or avoiding relegation trapdoors. The last day of the 2018 campaign won't go down as a classic of the genre, with four of the five Ts' sides slipping to defeat in meaningless rubbers.
Third team survives
The threes were the one side that did have something to play for and Steve Watts's men did the necessary in terms of defeating Harrow St Mary's (HSM). The victory ensured survival in the MCCL's Division Two (see here for the table).
The day got off to an excellent start when HSM's skipper, John Gale, turned up to announce that he'd (somehow) managed to arrange for the game to be played on the first team square at Harrow School. Let's just say that the thirds have played at worse venues this season and were subsequently not averse to the idea.
HSM had first hit and after a slow start managed to work their way up to 144 off their allotted 45 overs. Given that they had 50 on the board after 25 overs that represented a pretty decent recovery. Old warhorse Gary Pettit contributed a solid 30 at the top of the order, whilst Tony Wright helped himself to fluent 35 in the middle of the innings.
All of the Ts' bowlers came to the party and bowled nicely. Geoff Stothert kept things very tight at the top of the order, but it was Sam Cliffe and Dom Thamby (four wickets apiece) who took the glory.
The Ts adopted a tortoise and hare approach to chasing the total down. Hayden Tyler decided that there was absolutely no virtue in hanging about and he played his shots from ball one. He raced in to the 30s before the lacquer was off the new ball. Dan Hough, meanwhile, decided to wheel out the full array of leave alones and forward defensives in seeing off the final member fo HSM's version of the Four Tops, Steve Murphy.
The score was north of 50 before Tyler was dismissed, but a quick flurry of activity from number three Geoff Stothert still saw runs come quickly. The total was beyond 80 when before Stothert and Hough departed in quick succession, prompting skipper Steve Watts to take the strain in the middle order and dig in. That he did admirably, departing just before the total was reached leaving Stu Amos and Conner Finney to see the ship home.
Ones lose at Highgate
There was a less joyous story to be told at Highgate as the ones slipped to a heavy defeat. Losing by over 200 runs to a side that finishes bottom is not something that's easily sugar-coated (see here for the card).
Craig Gourlay helped himself to a tonne for the Gators, continuing his run of impressive form against the Ts. Gurjit Sandhu (3-55) and Clint McCabe (2-44) were the pick of the Twickenham bowlers. The less that is said about the Ts' reply the better. Only one man (Sandhu) got in to double figures as the Ts were blown away in little more than 20 overs.
The Ts subsequently finish 2018 in seventh position (see here). Worse than what was hoped for back in May, but considerably better than what was feared in early July. The side moves on to 2019 with plenty to think about, but also with the tools at its disposal to do much better.
Twos come off second best against Hampstead
The Ts' second string welcomed Hampstead to the Green in their final game in the top flight. The visitors were second in the table and always likely to be a tough opponent, but 0-3 off 8 balls and it must have felt like Truman and Statham were bowling on the Green.
Ethan Wright (27) and Nakul Vishvanath (24) nonetheless steadied the ship, and at 50-3 off 10 overs things were beginning to look up. That, however, was as good as it got, as both batters departed and another wobble set in. The two notable exceptions to this were Tom Field (24) skipper Eugene Berger (36), and their knocks helped the host to crawl over the 100 mark (see here for the card).
Sky TV presenter Matt Floyd set Hampstead on their way with 29, but it was Liam O'Doherty's 43no that ultimately saw the visitors home. Eugene Berger (1-15 off 5) and JP Bowman (1-31 off 6) were the pick of the hosts' bowlers.
The defeat was, however, immaterial to the 2nds' final league position (see here). The second division beckons in 2019. 2018 was a tough year for Eugene Berger and his side, but, well, time now to re-group and move on.
Fours lose a thriller
The fours found themselves in an end of season thriller at Broom Road. A tough batting surface meant that runs were always going to be hard to come by and not even the ebullient presence of club legend Aly Vokes was enough to see the Ts post a decent score. 76 all out doesn't tend to win you many games.
But, the Ts then gave it everything they had in the field, putting top of the table Perivale under real pressure. The Pheonicians very near buckled, too. Fine bowling all round saw the visitors struggle desperately to 60-9 as the Ts surged to the brink of victory.
The final Perivale pair nonetheless managed to ride their luck and scramble the 17 runs they needed to win the game. The fact that the Ts dropped two chances during that final wicket partnership certainly helped Perivale's cause, but there were still lots of positives for Hinay Dassani and his team to take away. Young Luke Muraszko certainly bowled well under pressure, whilst the team also showed it had plenty of resilience. Bodes well for 2019. See here for the final table.
Fifths end with a whimper
The fifth dimension unfortunately ended their campaign more with a whimper than a roar. The task of actually fielding 11 men proved beyond them and that clearly didn't help their cause. Gilly Sanchez (18) did his best to stick around but his efforts weren't enough to see the Ts post a decent total. Indeed, 75 all out at a small ground like Kenton was never likely to be quite enough to put the hosts under pressure.
So it ultimately proved. The Ts certainly gave it all they had, but Kenton got home with plenty to spare. The 5s therefore find themselves in Division Four in 2019. In the great scheme of things, no one can really argue that that's undeserved. Let's hope 2019 sees better availability and ultimately better results on the field.
So, with that 2018 takes a bow. Well done to everyone who moved heaven and earth to get sides out on to the field. Seriously, at times the likes of Carlos Nunes, Eugene Berger, Paul Johnson, Steve Watts, Hinay Dassani and Param Saini put more work in to TCC than I think many realise. Well done also to those who played week in, week out, through thick and thin. Hats off to all of you!
Updated 09:11 - 3 Sep 2018 by Dan Hough