As Billy Shakespeare once had Henry V saying “once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”. Week 18 is with us. 34 weeks of shopping loom large on the horizon. Enjoy the cricket whilst it lasts, fellas.
Whilst all of the Twickenham sides have had their promotion/(non-) relegation futures decided, two of the five teams do certainly have plenty to play for. The seconds will be playing Premier League cricket next year come what may, but will they be going up as champions? That will be decided this afternoon. The fourths, meanwhile, have cantered their way to the Division 5B title, but will they go the whole season unbeaten? Again, we’ll find out over the next few hours.
Twos live in hope
The seconds not only have to beat fourth placed Brondesbury on the Green, they have to hope that Stanmore come off second best against Hornsey (see here for the league table). On paper, fifth placed Hornsey certainly have a chance of beating the long-time pace-setters, but Eugene Berger will know that they need to put in a much better performance than they did against the Ts last week. Hornsey lost by 195 runs.
Be that as it may, the Ts will look to control the controllables. That means beating Brondesbury. The core of the usual 2nd XI is in place, although Kit Wilson comes in to add a bit of zest with the new ball. Sanjit Sandhu again continues behind the stumps, whilst Dan Taylor – the evergreen Kiwi who clobbers a very long ball – is back to bolster the middle order.
The full side is Eugene Berger, Pushtak Arsikere, Tom Field, Harry Grinstead, Lewis Mitchard, Nikhil Nomula, Sanjit Sandhu, Dan Taylor, Nakul Vishvanath, Kit Wilson and Ethan Wright.
Fours focus on finishing the job
The fours go in to week 18 knowing that history beckons. It is a very long time indeed since any TCC side went a whole season unbeaten. But, that is exactly what the 4s will do if they can beat Chiswick.
Chiswick may be 5th in the table, 52 points behind the Ts (see here for the details), but the first game between the sides this season was a tight affair. The Ts secured a winning draw, but it was the closest they have come all season to not gaining the majority of the points. The Ts certainly won’t be taking anything for granted.
Dassani’s team has a well-worn look about it. Dave Jones, fresh from impressing everyone at nets, joins Dassani in spearheading the bowling attack, whilst Jones's son, Anthony, makes a welcome return to the side. In one of the most disappointing stories of the week, it looks like Nihal Tomar has not been promoted to the threes; surely the cricketing Gods would have liked to see him make a speedy return to MTSSC (where the threes play this week and where Tomar was mankaded for the 4s seven days ago).
Karandeep Singh returns and may well open the batting with the irrepressible Uzzi Khan, whilst Waris Khan also steps up. Martin Fairn and Stuart Amos provide the experience and all-round cricketing gravitas.
The 4th XI is Hinay Dassani, Stuart Amos, Hiran Dissanayake, Martin Fairn, Anthony Jones, Dave Jones, Uzzi Khan, Waris Khan, Karandeep Singh, Nihal Tomar and Chetan Ubale.
Ones travel to Shay Boo
The first XI finish 2019 at Bromyard Avenue where they play Shepherd’s Bush. The Bush are two places and three points ahead of the Ts (see here). Should the Ts win, then they could finish as high as fourth. Should they lose then as low as 8th. It's been a tight old league this season.
Carlos Nunes will be without the services of Abhi Singh and Parminder Singh, but he can still call on Ishi Singh Sohi and Gurjit Sandhu on the bowling front. The skipper himself has enjoyed a quietly successful season with the new ball and he’ll no doubt be sharing seam obligations with Val Giraud and Phil Nash. Don Manuwelge and Ben Leale-Green may well be sharing the spinning duties.
The 1st XI is Carlos Nunes, Rhys Davies, Valentin Giraud, Mesome Hussain, Ben Leale-Green, Don Manuwelge, Phil Nash, Scott Newman, Dave Russell, Gurjit Sandhu and Ishi Singh Sohi.
More Mankads, anyone?
The threes finish their campaign with a tough looking trip to MTSSC. The hosts currently lie second and need a win to secure promotion (see here).
The 3s are without their enigmatic skipper, Steve Watts, so Connor Finney again leads the side in to battle. Finney has plenty of talent to call on. Robbie Bosier’s half century last week immediately poses a question as to whether he’ll be asked to continue opening the batting, whilst you get the feeling that Ajmal Allahdad really is ‘due’. Jonty Hunt also steps back in following an impressive year lower down.
Mark Smith returns to provide Finney with another seam option, whilst Ozzie Qavi and Anu Agarwal will also offer some bowling firepower. Rumours that Sam Cliffe will not be bowling, batting 11 and fielding fine leg to fine leg remain unsubstantiated.
The 3rd XI is Connor Finney, Anu Agarwal, Ajmal Allahdad, Robbie Bosier, Sam Cliffe, Steve Cowley, Johnty Hunt, Ravi Kapoor, Ozzie Qavi, Mark Smith and Hayden Tyler.
Fifths travel to Wembley
The fifths finish their campaign with a trip to bottom of the table Wembley (see here for the table). Their hosts have really struggled in 2019 and Chris Wylde will certainly be hopeful that that will enable the 5s to finish with a win.
Anil Bhatt and Harmeet Singh have formed the most reliable opening bowling partnership in the club and they will be looking to once more do their thing on Saturday. Batting-wise, experience oozes everywhere. Gil Sanchez and Phil Walker have been around the houses more times than they’d care to remember, although Harry Tebb does offer the 5s an injection of youth.
The 5th XI is Chris Wylde, Zafar Ali, Anil Bhatt, Paul McLoughlin, Gil Sanchez, Sameed, Harmeet Singh, Harry Tebb, Liam Tebb, Brian Thorne and Phil Walker.
Go well, fellas, and don’t forget to go hard on the karaoke in the club after the game.