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over 6 years ago | Uncategorised

A brilliant hundred by Middlesex's Nick Gubbins at the Kensington Oval set the South up for a winning total of 347 against the North in the opening match of this year's three match North vs South series.

Gubbins' knock of 116, came off 99 balls, and included nine fours and three sixes.

Coach Mark Ramprakash led the praise for Nick Gubbins after the Middlesex openers' century helped to maintain the South’s dominance over the North in the first match of this year’s Caribbean series.

“It was nice to go out there and land the first punch,” said Gubbins, who cramped up late in his innings at a roasting Kensington Oval, but not before he had underlined his white-ball ability by playing with aggression and intent throughout.

His opening partnership of 134 inside 19 overs with Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond laid the foundations for a record-breaking South total of 347, and an ultimately comfortable 63-run win which inflicted a fourth consecutive defeat on the North since the series was introduced in the UAE last year.

“I wouldn’t put Gubbins or DBD in the mould of say a Jason Roy,” said Ramprakash, the England batting coach who has taken the baton from Paul Farbrace to take charge of the South in this year’s series, with Andy Flower as his assistant.

“These guys are slightly more orthodox – batting first they assessed the wicket, and I thought they played really good cricket shots. They were perhaps helped by some inconsistent bowling by the opposition but they pounced on it – any opportunity to score, and they just built the partnership beautifully.

“There were a few nerves flying around, with it being the first day and it’s built up quite a bit between the two teams. There’s some good cricketers here, a lot of them are very young, and they’re competing for recognition, and to fight their corner – there’s a few Alpha males in there. So Gubbo and DBD gave us a great start.”

Ramprakash is also relishing his role in the series, as a contrast with his regular England role.

“Yeah, I am really enjoying it,” added the former Middlesex and Surrey run machine. “It’s very interesting to look at things through a much wider lens. As a specialist coach you tend to zero in on your batsmen and everything you can do to support them. Being the head coach you’ve got to make certain decisions about the team – who’s playing, how we structure our practice, team meetings, things like that.”

Gubbins was unable to field as a result of his cramp, but is confident that he will be fit for the second game of the series on Wednesday, again at the Kensington Oval – when the North need to end their four-match losing run to avoid being condemned to a second consecutive series defeat.

“It’s not so much an injury – my body just went into spasm,” added the 24-year-old left-hander, who scored a couple of half centuries on the recent Lions tour of West Indies, after making 68 against a Perth Scorchers attack including Mitchell Johnson in December.

“It’s pretty hot out here and you sweat a lot. Thankfully when I departed the boys carried it on – and to post 350 in our first innings, we were absolutely delighted with. And that was backed up by the bowlers.

“The batsmen coming in made a massive difference – Sam Northeast, Laurie Evans coming in and taking the pressure off me by playing their aggressive games, and then Delray Rawlins as well finishing off the job with John Simpson. Although I’m the man up here today, it was a real team effort with the bat – don’t forget Daniel Bell-Drummond who got us off to an absolute flier.

“Ramps is all about the team, and it’s been nice to come together as a team – we play against each other so much, but to share a changing room and get to know the personalities has been really enjoyable.”

For the North, there was only dejection – although at least Lancashire youngster Saqib Mahmood had the consolation of claiming career best List A figures of five for 60.

They slightly disguised a spectacular second spell of five for 16, as the South lost their last six wickets for 32 – and all five of Saqib’s victims were clean bowled.

“We started getting a bit of lateral movement, and I thought it was best to bowl straight and full, and take the pitch out of the equation,” he said.

“But you have to give credit to the way they batted early on. There was one ball I bowled to Gubbo which I thought was pretty much spot on, and he hit it for six.”

Leicestershire’s Zak Chappell also showed promise with the ball for the North, as well as taking an athletic catch at short fine leg to dismiss Simpson for an intelligent 32.

And five of the top seven in the batting line-up hinted at a major innings, with openers Joe Clarke and Alex Davies taking a lead from Gubbins and Bell-Drummond in putting on 77 in11 overs, Sam Hain continuing his good Lions form with 48 from 55 balls, and Brett D’Oliveira and captain Steven Mullaney sharing five sixes in a sixth-wicket stand of 89.

But the South’s spin trio of Ravi Patel, Dom Bess and Rawlins combined effectively in the middle overs, then Sam Curran applied the coup de grace when immediately after being smeared for six by D’Oliveira, he yorked the Worcestershire all-rounder then plucked out Chappell’s off stump with consecutive balls.

It was a mixed day for Rawlins, the Bermuda-born Sussex all-rounder who was watched by his family, and produced the most audacious batting to make 53 from 41 balls, only to drop Clarke and Davies at slip off consecutive Curran overs.

But he still made quite an impression on the watching cognoscenti, whether Ramprakash, Flower, North coach Paul Collingwood, director of England cricket Andrew Strauss, or selectors Mick Newell and Angus Fraser.

There were no mixed reviews from Gubbins, who said simply: “Delray was sensational.”

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