Paulin Ground, Winchmore Hill, Sunday 10 May 2015
The Tigers slumped to their second defeat of the season (and their 11th in the last 15 games), bowled out for a measly 95 on the lower pitch at Winchmore Hill, where totals in excess of 200 are a general rule rather than an exception.
The exit polls suggested another high-scoring contest on a hard, dry wicket in perfect conditions. Invited to bat first, the Tigers’ innings underwent three distinct phases. It appeared business as usual to begin with; despite the loss of Mike Herlihy at 28, the total had progressed nicely to 46-1 by the 10th over, thanks to a typically audacious 31 from Mike Delanian. But when he miscued to mid-on the sky fell in, as the Tiger middle order collapsed like a pack of cards, six wickets disappearing for 8 runs in 7 overs, partly due to some good bowling and catching, together with poor application and shot selection from the batsmen.
A subsidence of this nature tends to be self-perpetuating and feed on itself, as both Middlesex and Durham found earlier in the week at Lord’s, where both were skittled in under 25 overs on a good wicket. The pitch here was low and slow, as it often is, but that was little excuse. Rowan Allerton (25) and Matt Webster showed what could be done by adding a sensible 25 for the 9th wicket, but when Rowan lost patience, followed almost immediately by a needless run out, the game was up. The aardvarks had eaten all the ants, and the chickens had come home to roost whilst dogs barked in vain at the passing caravans.
The one positive aspect of the day was the welcome return of Matt Webster, just weeks after a serious operation. He looked back to his usual self as the Tigers attempted a fightback, bowling Taylor with a yorker and pinning Hull leg before. John McGirr bowled out James and Smith to leave the result in the balance at 47-4, but Nelson (44*) adopted an aggressive approach which paid dividends. Some difficult half-chances were spilled, although Stewart Taylor clung on to an Ian Daffern full toss on the boundary to out Welch, but it was never going to be enough, the match finishing at 5pm. after less than 50 overs.
The Tigers now head off on their visit to Oporto, where the home side will doubtless be looking for revenge following last year’s whitewash.