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MIDDLESEX SENIOR SIDES ENJOY A RESURGENCE IN 2021

MIDDLESEX SENIOR SIDES ENJOY A RESURGENCE IN 2021

A SEASON ROUND-UP OF MIDDLESEX SENIORS CRICKET

Whilst the pandemic caused huge disruption to the game throughout the entirety of 2020, the game well and truly bounced back this year as restrictions were lifted, with many clubs across the UK fielding more sides than ever before.

A large part of that growth in participation came at the younger end of the playing spectrum, as announced earlier this summer by the ECB, with thousands of youngsters embracing the game through All Stars and Dynamos programmes being run so successfully at Club’s and Cricket Centres across the country.

Lesser known however, is that right at the other end of the scale, in Seniors’ cricket, there has also been much to celebrate, with equally impressive growth across the game – especially right here at Middlesex, with our own county representative sides enjoying a successful and busy year.

Over the last few seasons, Middlesex have gone from a county that struggled to field a Seniors’ side at all, to this season, when the Club had five sides representing the County in Seniors’ Cricket – three at Over 50’s and two at Over 60’s levels. We’ve also seen two further sides in action, one combined with Berkshire and Buckinghamshire at Over 60’s level, and one combined with Buckinghamshire at Over 70’s level - and there has been plenty to celebrate.

With the curtain drawn on a busy season for the Senior Middlesex representative sides, here’s a summary of how the summer went for each of the sides representing their county.

Middlesex Over 50’s - First Team

The Over 50's First Team competed well in Group Five of the Over 50+ County Championship competition, although struggled with inconsistency all year, eventually finishing the season with three wins and four losses and a mid-table fourth place finish.

The side brushed off an opening game 45 run defeat to rivals Surrey to bounce back with a convincing six wicket victory against Buckinghamshire in their next outing to open their account in the Championship.

Hertfordshire were up next in a home clash played at Harrow St Mary’s Cricket Club, with the visitors running out winners by 39 runs. Before Middlesex against rallied back with a second win, this time by three wickets against Essex, with a fine 76 from Naseer Ahmed at almost a run a ball helping Middlesex chase down Essex’s total of 230.

The Over 50’s yo-yo season continued with another defeat next, by six wickets to Sussex, before they followed up with another win against Kent - this time by nine wickets.

This saw Middlesex with a record of L-W-L-W-L-W and face Berkshire in a shootout for the play-offs. Sadly, it wasn’t our day, as Berkshire prevailed, in the tightest of games, to secure a two-run victory and bag the runners up spot themselves.

It was a season with plenty of highs, and lows, but the squad continues to develop and improve and would welcome any new players interested in joining the ranks from across the Middlesex county leagues. Three of the 2021 Middlesex squad are in the England Over 50's squad, four are in the mix to represent India, and one of the players is part of the Sri Lankan team. All are hoping to turn out in the Over 50's+ World Cup, scheduled to take place in November 2022.

Middlesex Over 50’s - Second Team

The Over 50’s Second Eleven had an outstanding season this year, losing just one of the Group matches they played in the Home Counties Seniors Championship.

This loss, to eventual winners Essex by nine wickets, saw Middlesex’s Second Eleven finish the season in the runners up spot, behind Essex, equal on fourteen points but narrowly behind on net run rate.

With the top two sides in the Group then playing a final to determine the winners, it was Essex again who prevailed, inflicting another defeat on Middlesex, this time by the margin of 99 runs, as Middlesex were dismissed for 148 when chasing Essex’s 247.

A season ending defeat didn’t take the sheen off what was an encouraging season for the Over 50’s Second Eleven, which saw them competing well in all games, and with plenty of positives to build on ahead of next season.

Middlesex Over 50’s – Third Team

The Over 50s Third Eleven competed in the Southern Counties East Division this summer, and after an uncertain start to their campaign, they turned things around, as the side finished the season in good form.

Three consecutive losses saw Middlesex languishing at the bottom of the table, before the arrival of several new players to the squad midway through the season brought a change of fortune and three back-to-back victories against Surrey, Bedfordshire, and Wiltshire, which ensured a respectable mid-table finish.

The reward for a strong finish was entry into the Plate tournament at the semi-final stage and a home tie against Cornwall.

A comprehensive 96 run victory over the west country side saw Middlesex progress into the Plate final, to face Dorset as our opposition, and again Middlesex triumphed, this time by the huge margin of 122 runs to lift the title. Hero of the final was Tilan Wijesinghe, who returned figures of 6 for 22 to bowl Dorset out for just 90.

It was an encouraging season for the Thirds, who are hoping to make further recruits for the 2022 season and build on their success this year.

Middlesex Over 60’s – First Team

The Over 60’s First Team had a successful season this year, finishing as runners up in the National southeast League, behind eventual winners Surrey.

Middlesex’s only league defeat came at the hands of Surrey, despite inflicting defeat on their London rivals earlier in the campaign, to add to victories also secured against Kent, Hampshire, Sussex, and Berkshire.

Again, there were plenty of positives the Over 60’s front side will take into a winter of training, which they’ll hope to build on ahead of next season.

Middlesex Over 60’s – Second Team

This year, after completion of their league campaign, the Over 60’s 2nd Eleven competed for the National Vase knockout competition and enjoyed a successful run to the final.

Their Vase campaign started by beating a Buckinghamshire side in a DLS affected quarter-final tie, before then demolishing Berkshire at Teddington in the semi-final, by the huge margin of 164 runs, to earn a place in the final against a strongly fancied Somerset side.

Southgate hosted the National Final, where Somerset lived up to their billing, eventually running out winners by 54 runs to lift the title.

It was a disappointing final result for the Second Eleven, but certainly didn’t take the gloss of what was an enjoyable campaign that was much enjoyed by all the players.

Again, the Over 60’s would welcome new players to join the squad, so if you’re male and aged over 59, or female aged over 55, then please get in touch with the Club and you’ll be put in contact with the appropriate person.

Middlesex Over 60’s – Combined Team

A mixed season for the combined Middlesex/Buckinghamshire Over 60’s side saw them win eight and lost seven of the fifteen matches they played in a busy summer of cricket.

Four wins from their opening five Championship matches got the season underway on a positive note, however losses in the next four encounters saw any early season title promise lose momentum.

The season ended with a respectable mid-table finish, in fourth place, which was a decent outcome for the Over 60’s combined side, who will be looking to find greater consistency in 2022.

Middlesex Over 70’s – Combined Team

This season was Middlesex's first foray into Over 70's cricket but with an unknown number of players it was decided to kick things off with a joint venture with Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, both of whom already had one Over 70's team.

It was also decided that Middlesex should provide the captain and Keith Walker duly stepped up to the plate.

In spite of considerable doubts before the season started, that eleven players from the three counties would result in a team with the required number of bowlers, batsmen and wicket keeper, it worked remarkably well.

All matches played were friendlies and we won four out of seven matches played, with four further fixtures falling foul of the weather. Despite those earlier concerns about not being able to field eleven players, ultimately not every eligible Middlesex player got a game each week, although there were thirteen who played at least two matches during the season.

At the end of the season the squad decided that a fitting way to end the season would be to play some intra-squad games, so an inaugural Middlesex Over 70's team took the field to play an over 70's team made up primarily of Buckinghamshire players, both home and away. Unfortunately Middlesex ran out on the losing side in in both matches but a good time was had by all.

The season definitely proved that there is strong enough desire, and certainly plenty enough talent, to push on with the Over 70’s representative sides next season, and it was great to see some lasting friendships forged this summer with players from all the counties involved.

Interested in joining Middlesex Seniors?

2021 was a bumper summer for Senior’s cricket in Middlesex, and the tone has been set for a bright future, which promises plenty of participation and enjoyment, both on and off the field.

Whilst playing the game competitively, and with a huge amount of pride in representing their county, the Senior sides offer a very welcoming and social environment, who enjoy time together off the field as much as on it.

This was no better showcased than when more than twenty over the Over 60’s got together at the end of the season, at Lord’s, to enjoy a day’s play during Middlesex’s final County Championship game of the season against Worcestershire. Sadly, whilst heavy rain called a halt to any play on the hallowed turf of HQ, it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those who attended, as abandoning all hope of seeing any play at Lord’s, as the rain fell continuously, the group embarked on an impromptu lengthy lunch at a nearby Indian restaurant to reflect on another season put to bed.

Anyone interested in joining the Middlesex Senior ranks should contact Bob Baxter, by email at [email protected].

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