MIDDLESEX SLIDE TO OPENING GAME DEFEAT
Middlesex failed to get off to the positive start they were hoping for in this seasons Middleton Cup as they slipped to a 10 shot defeat at home to Buckinghamshire BA on Saturday.
Despite some positives it was a frustrating day for Middlesex. Things seemed to be going awry from the off when both Ladygate’s mower and Eric Prior’s car would not start! Ladygate’s Green’s maintenance team work extremely hard to produce a surface worthy of the fixture and the frustration on their faces was evident for all to see. Fortunately the mower problem was sorted, the grass was cut and alternate score cards were sourced while Eric sorted his issues.
Bright sunshine greeted the players as they arrived as well as the smell of Bacon Rolls wafting from the Ladygate kitchen. Despite the storms of Friday and the last minute cut the green played at a good pace even if there were a few strange lines being found. Buckinghamshire certainly could not complain that the green issues created a “home” advantage as the rink including Ladygate players Chris Harris and Tony Waller were taken apart by a superb display from Dave Simpson’s quartet.
When play started Middlesex got off to a steady start and led 26-24 at 5 ends with only 1 rink behind. Buckinghamshire, though, were clearly just finding their feet and by 10 ends they had moved ahead 52-59 although Middlesex still had 2 rinks in front and 1 tying. At 15 ends the gap was up to 17 (70-87) and despite Perry Cook’s rink pulling away everyone else was losing. Buckinghamshire continued to pull away and lead by 23 (82-105) at 18.
Middlesex though staged a stirring fight back over the last 3 ends across the board and although it never looked like being enough they narrowed the final deficit to lose 105-115.
Top rink for Middlesex was Glen Adams (Hendon), Tommy Brooks, Chris Dunkley and Perry Cook (all Poplar) who won 25-11. Top performance however should probably go to Ashley Tanner (Ashford), Norman Worley (Hendon), Craig Hill (Winnington) and Nick Edwards (Bounds Green), a newly formed rink for 2017, who drew and beat, 22-17, the Buckinghamshire rink containing their Team Manager and ex Middlesex star Gerry Smyth and Kirk Smith. A great performance from those 4.
Sadly only 2 rink wins meant Middlesex just picked up 4 points to Buckinghamshire’s 18. In the days other game, though, there was a shock. Isle of Wight BA, widely considered whipping boys, in their group beat Hampshire BA 16-6 at Shanklin.
After the game Craig Hill received his Middleton Cup flash. Team Manager Ray Fortune also announced that with the exception of 1 enforced change, Rod Smith (Holtwhites) coming in for the unavailable Ernie Rudston, the same side would travel south on June 17th.
So all is to play for in this group, next up Middlesex travel to Shanklin, to face a presumably buoyant Island and Buckinghamshire travel to Atherley to face Hampshire. Hampshire will need to win to give themselves a shout of qualifying, of course if they do win and Middlesex can beat the Islanders all things are possible on day 3 in July.
Preview in due course.