Last weekend was a special weekend for Middlesex Under 16s Boys, who won the ECB National Under 16s competition for the second year running, having beaten Yorkshire, coincidentally, the side they also beat in 2022.
Middlesex won the toss and elected to bat at Loughborough on a good but used wicket. Pansilu Wijesinghe, who has so often got the innings off to a flying start in the competition (262 runs @ 32.63, at a strike rate of 159), was caught behind in the 5th over.
When captain Sebastian Morgan was dismissed for 3, Jack Nelson took the attack to Yorkshire, striking 4 boundaries in his 22 off 17 balls. Nelson was caught at deep square-leg and the game was in the balance at 83/3.
Caleb Falconer joined opener James Isbell at the crease, who had played in a measured fashion to that point. The two batted fantastically together in a 120-run partnership. Falconer struck 11 boundaries in his 81 runs (86 balls), dominating both seam and spin. After Falconer was dismissed, Isbell took on the mantle of scoring himself, and brought up his 6th century of a brilliant season for the county. At 253/4, Middlesex were looking at a first innings score upwards of 300. However, a lower order collapse resulted in a final score of 273 all out.
Yorkshire started brightly before Sebastian Morgan bowled Fraine for 16 and Rohan Paul-Muktieh (5-0-15-0) applied some pressure.
Yorkshire’s batters assumed the ascendancy and Middlesex’s spinners - Nilesh Bhandari, Samarjeet Singh and Pansilu Wijesinghe - had to work hard to limit the scoring on a good wicket.
The crucial breakthrough came when Wijesinghe took an outstanding diving catch at long-on off the bowling of Samarjeet Singh, to bring the score to 120/2. Singh struck again before wickets in successive overs left Yorkshire 175/5.
Whilst clouds gathered overhead, Yorkshire fell behind the required rate, and when play was eventually stopped for the rain, they were one run behind on DLS. A 40-minute break in play meant there were no overs lost and Yorkshire returned to the crease requiring 81 runs to win from 12.1 overs, and 5 wickets in hand.
The return of the fast bowlers proved pivotal, as Caleb took the wicket of Birch and the required rate climbed higher. Morgan bowled quickly, full and straight and was rewarded with two wickets for himself. Bhandari took another but fittingly, it was Morgan who sealed the match, bowling Singh and finishing with figures of 8.2-0-34-4.
The win was much deserved, with all players contributing throughout the competition. Middlesex beat Sussex twice, Kent twice, Essex, Norfolk, Devon and Wales to reach the final. The team were coached throughout by James Hewitt. We are extremely grateful to the parents for their support throughout the summer.
Key performances were:
James Isbell - 619 runs, 56.27 average, 2 x 50s, 3 x 100s. Leading run scorer in the competition.
Samarjeet Singh - 26 Wickets, average 13.65, economy 3.41. Leading wicket taker in the competition.
Nilesh Bhandari - 24 Wickets, average 12.88, economy 3.66. Third leading wicket taker in the competition.
Middlesex Cricket congratulates all the young men who played their part in another successful trophy winning season. Keep up the good work.