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Earlier this year, Middlesex Cricket announced plans to launch the pioneering Ace Programme across the seventeen boroughs the country represents, dovetailing perfectly with Surrey, who have been successfully running the programme across their boroughs throughout the capital – giving young black cricketers across London the opportunities they need to play and develop their cricket.

The programme, which has been running successfully not only in London, but also in both Bristol and Birmingham, has been a huge success, with over 6,000 young cricketers already being engaged with, leading to over 200 trials being handed out, and well over 100 scholarships being awarded to youngsters who have joined the ACE National Academy.

Last week, at Eastcote Cricket Club, Middlesex got to see the benefit of the Ace Programme first hand, when the Club’s Under 18’s played against a representative side from the Ace Programme in a one-day encounter at Haydon Hall.

Whilst playing under the banner of the Under 18’s, Middlesex’s side comprised several younger players, led by Captain Matthew McGowan.

Winning the toss, McGowan elected to bat first on home soil, and his side got off to a flying start, with opener Aaryan Sawant (66) and Vaansh Jani (71) both hitting half centuries.

The breakthrough brought Danyaal Khalid to the crease at number three, and he followed suit, hitting a top score in the Middlesex innings of 72.

From there the Ace Programme bowlers wrestled some control back, taking regular wickets to stifle the Middlesex onslaught and apply the brakes to their charge.

Six of the Middlesex youngsters fell for single figure scores, with only Ben Salter able to add any meaningful contribution to build on what was a terrific start, as he added an important 46 at number eight.

The Middlesex innings closed with the side all out for 280, with Mudasir Mian the pick of the Ace Programme bowlers, finishing with figures of 4 for 44 from 9.5 very tidy overs, which included a hat-trick in his spell.

In reply the Middlesex bowlers wasted little time in getting into the Ace Programme’s batting line up, with both openers dismissed for scores of 11 and 16, with Chinmay Mullapudi and Noah Cornwell picking up the wickets.

Only the Ace number three, Tor Burrows, and number four, Abhay Gonella, offered any serious resistance, with knocks of 53 and 31 respectively, although when their cameos came to an end the regular fall of wickets saw the Middlesex youngsters take control.

The visitors’ innings was brought to a close in the 39th over with the total on 161, to seal a victory for the Middlesex Under 18’s by the margin of 119 runs.

Subhan Ramzan and Ben Salter stood out as the Middlesex bowlers on the day, both picking up three wickets, the former finishing with figures of 3 for 34 from 8 overs and the latter 3 for 8 from 3 impactful overs.

The game was blessed with some incredible work in the field from both sides, who fielded with great energy, resulting in some sensational catches and outstanding ground work, and most importantly, the game was played in great spirit, competitive in nature, but with lots of smiles on faces and handshakes at the end.

Middlesex would like to thank all at the Ace Programme for the fixture, a thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all, and it was amazing to see the dedication and passion of so many young cricketers putting their skills to the test.

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