We got closer this time, but a familiar pattern to the London Fields match emerged on another beautiful day at Wray. North Middlesex batted first and, in a manner embodied by skipper Pete Croaker, took every opportunity to go on the offensive from the outset, just like Friend and co the previous week. Pacific hoped their special cream teas would somewhat curb the brio of the nth midd attack in the second innnings but young Harris, Croaker and pals created pressure from the beginning, restricting even the usually adventurous Rajkumar. At 30/0 off 10. Pacific were behind the game and despite an influential, intimidating knock from Tom Ireland, whose fluency was a visual feast, and a wonderful cameo from Number 8 Andrew Birley, whose rapid 32 not out off 26 balls gave our scoreline a patina of respectability and promises a bright run scoring future.
Wrays of hope on the horizon
Paul has settled into Pacific life with all the smoothness of a seal's cravatte - Saturday marked a third consecutive +25 in three innings( including one for the Galliance), all scored at a lively pace. Paul was quite the 'event' manager on his bowling debut at the weekend, his first over for the club comprising bouncers, pace, smacked fours, and a little chest music which tied up fellow Antipodean captain Croaker and trickled back onto the stumps for a wicket in his first over for the club. How many others have achieved this statistician Lay?
Pacific CC were already well accustomed to the flaxen haired son of Cambridge's huge appetite for fielding, perhaps the most team oriented facet of the game, which others often eschew in terms of effort. Not AB, who treats each ball as a micro moment to savour and participate in. Attentive as ever on Saturday in the field, Birl slid, dived and threw hard - his efforts culminating in another masterfully pouched catch at mid off to send their star batsman back to the pavilion. Tea was followed by a bout of Wray Pavilion cleaning. Then, in a short but nevertheless memorable cameo, the left hander dispatched young offspinner Gole to all parts of the leg side, employing his aptitude for shot playing off his legs to take 16 from one over. Birl showed the worth in taking the attack to the opposition, especially apparent on a day when several teammates got tied down in knots. A break through day for the break out batter Birl.
Luck of the Irish?
Tom had absolutely no luck with the ball on Saturday but didn't let this affect his batting. After declining Kieran's cream tea due to the cultural insensitivity of cream being spread on the scones first, the Dorset born bat creamed the pink ball from the off as others were perplexed by the tight lines and lengths of the Middlsex seamers. For a few brief overs, in tandem with Mullens, Tom offered hope of a gloriously improbable victory, but K Dog ran himself out Tom perished soon after, cricket's equivalent of a broken heart for the fifth wicket batting partnership which might have been? Ireland has run scoring class in spades - and so hoping he scores buckets of runs during the rest of the season.
Ahmed Hussain and Paul Davis
Ahmed took the Pacificisation of Wray to new levels on Saturday by delivering a home made Eton Mess, while Paul Davis applied his customary ingenuity to rice dishes with a mackerel and chick pea number whose fishiness was cut with the zest of lime juice. Ahmed's wicket gathering continues, five already for this season taking him to a rather fine 68 career scalps. Paul Davis' talent for innovation has seen him trial a longer run up this season, though a return to his 2014 model, where he became a force to be reckoned with on the slow track of Alexandra Park, may offer him the best chances of success.
James has admirably stepped up to the plate of opening Pacific innings with Paul Rajkumar in 2015 - his high back lift and straight hitting offer a nice counterpoint to the more aggressive instincts of Rajkumar. No doubt his technical purism will lead to a swathe of run scoring later in the season. He'll also run up the hill for you in the field, an apt phrase perhaps for the man whose name means 'hill' in Latin.
Ravi is an undeniable talent - at the Bethnal Green nets in early 2015 he bowled menacingly and hit big. Ravi looks a touch shackled at present and perhaps needs to employ a break-out shot in order to free up what are his naturally attacking instincts. Watch this space....runs...will....flow.
Quote of the day:
Giaco (ineffectually) sledging their No 11, A Harris: "Black trainers, eh? I hope you can bat better than you look. Do you always play in them?"
A Harris: "No, because we have a proper pitch at North Midd."
He went on to score 17 not out, which is almost as many as the Italian stallion managed all of last season.