Latest News:

Billy Don't Be a Hero

almost a hero

By Primrose Hillbilly
September 22 2018

How’re you doing?” he said. “I hate you. Where are you?” 

“I’m in the Upper Warner observing from there.” 

“Good ,” he said, “I’m watching on Ceefax. How do you feel about doing the report?” 

I’d been woken twice in the night by the rain drumming on the windows, so was reconciled to a delayed start. 

However, things just fall into shape, the sky cleared, and it came to me : If the call was going to come in, if the email was going to arrive by now, it would have done. Carpe Diem. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Do it. So, out the door, over to NW8 asap, and make the most of the Middle’s last day at Lord’s. 

“Ok, but no moderation ...................” 

“You fiend, you know there is no one else .........” 

So, .........these are the breaks, ............. 

Once through the charming security guys on the North Gate – try this - see how their faces light up when you say, “Thank you for keeping us safe”,.............a speedy march to watching an over through the gap in the Lower Compo, with Derby 5- 0, so conclude that Mala had made the first positive move, and declared overnight. Sparse crowd, even in the Big Red. 

Make my way to the Upper Warner, where some familiar faces were sheltering from the wind still gusting over the ground, but with warming morning sun. Tim and La Bamba – to Harry, but Bambino to others in the team - open for us. Derby get going, with Billy the Snail and Reece equally as active, and from here I refresh my memory from the printable texts I sent to my Moderator. 

Derby must have known it unlikely they would succeed, but couldn’t sit on the splice all day, so had to play their normal game, and take what they could. With that in mind, Reece fastened on a deliberately high Tim Murtagh bouncer, and hooked it to the Tavern, where El Bambino grabbed over his right shoulder, tumbling over as he did. 

Harry replaces Exeter University’s finest Theology student, and runs in with real intent, working up some good pace, backed by his usual great accuracy. My goodness he’s responded to the challenges of this season, always on the money, always giving it his all. A ball in his first over thumped into Madsen’s pads, catching him on the crease, and it was about as plumb as the feller that the stand we were sitting in was named after. Madsen knew, and off he went. 

While this was happening, our old boy, Billy Godleman was showing he had developed some shots during his time with Essex and Derby, a cover and off drive in particular, and even when two short extra cover’s, backed up by mid – off, were set for him, he showed he was equal to this, and threaded one four between them all. He bats with a very open stance, and as he is quite a big lump now, crouches far over, but with a very obvious gap between hands on the bat handle, with the bottom hand right down on the splice. - Maybe not a snail, more a very active crustacean – a crab, a crayfish even? He was seldom completely becalmed, taking whatever was on offer, a single here, then another the next over, a dab for two, and always looking to get the maximum for his stroke. There is something of the ruthless accumulator in him now. 

Andersson replaces Tim, and his whippy action and high bounce produces a thin edge through to Robbie White to account for Hughes. 

My moderator texts back to say, “The ping in my pocket from you is a great feeling”, and I respond with the hope that we might later reach a joyful conclusion. 

“Oh, good,” he says, “so glad you’ve reconsidered. - Try not to abuse too many people.” 

We lunch with Derby not out of it on paper, but in reality, much more unlikely to survive than when they started. Angus Fraser makes a presentation to Mick Hunt and a colleague in front of the Pavillion, to thank him for his 49 years of preparing the pitches at Lord’s on which we had played. I move to the Grand Stand to try to get the last of the season’s sun, while still sheltering from the blustering wind. 

Tim returns at the Nursery End, and removes my moderator’s preferred accompaniment to crispy duck with Robbie White’s assistance. ( moderator note- was hoping he would be plum LBW) How is he? Hossein ! He’s Out ! Robbie is already a vocal presence in the field, and is a much more apparent and energetic presence in the field, running up to and past the stumps to take throws and be involved with his fielders. A good assertive focal point. His keeping to our quicks is smooth and undemonstrative, and he moves with ease. I cannot opine on how he keeps to spin, as Mala only bowled two overs of his leggies, and took himself off just as he seemed to be hitting a good length, which was a shame.  

Critchley began confidently, and is a clean, smooth stroke maker. However, well done Robbie White. He comes up to the stumps to El Bambino, stopping Critchley from batting out of his crease. Ethan hits him half way up the front pad, ............ Badaladadala ............and as he bowls gun barrel straight, no surprises when the finger goes up. 

One of Billy’s drives creates a slight moment of comedy, as two of our guys go after it down the slope; the first intends hunting the ball down, diving and pulling it back in for the second to stay on his feet and throw back. First man dives, and flips the ball back, so it runs parallel to the rope, a few inches in play. Second man in stoops and misses it, just brushing it with his fingers, ........needs to stop, retrace his steps, but in so doing, falls over pushes it back whence it came, only to hit the rope, so.........signals four. The two high five each other as they regain their places. 

Emphatic dismissal of the day : Jimmy “Wonderman” Harris. You are the Man !!!! Harry steams in, he winds up, he delivers a thunderbolt. It goes through Wilson, it beats him all ends up and BAAAAAAANG shoots off stump out of the ground as if rocket propelled.! Ain’t no doubt. It goes back a yard or two, bolt upright in the air, as if suspended. I make the two handed square signal for a tv review, which some seem to enjoy. Harry, in case you are in any doubt, we love you. 

At tea, I observe that ritual we have seen so often and taken for granted, but a bit poignant : the groundstaff brush the dust off the wicket, re-mark the creases and generally ensure the surface is ready for play to continue, presided over by Mick Hunt, and for a time the ground staff gather at the Pavillion end of the wicket and listen as he talks, making a couple of points towards the lowest part of the ground. He walks off, having handed over the pitch back to the umpires and players for the last time in a first class match, and I am the only person to clap him off, as no one else seems to appreciate the significance. 

First ball back, that ruthless assassin, Tim Murtagh is back in the groove, Dal does not dally, and Tim’s standard method of appealed despatch is confirmed by umpire. “How did he get you?” “Oh, LBW, nipped one back off a length” “Same here”. ...................I bet that’s a pretty good club of members by now. 

Ethan takes the other end again, and Viljoen’s firm, hard hands see him push at another dead straight one, returning a few inches off the ground. Our man hurls himself forward in his follow through, and snatches it just off the turf – two or three inches; no more, and Viljoen stands momentarily, as if not believing his eyes. Me neither. What it is with this amazing, young, positive guy? 

Billy’s steady and remorseless accumulation has seen him to 95 by now, and a sort of really uneasy shuffled rush down the wicket, - and a stroke akin to a firm long stroke with a broom to a pile of late autumnal leaves - launches the ball over long off, and gets him through the rest of the nervous nineties in one. It seemed to mean a massive amount to him, as he looked heavenwards and made signs there too. Well done that man. Captaining a side, opening and holding the batting together cannot be easy in any county, let alone one with limited resources. I remember that when he first came on the scene, his profile mentioned that his Dad was a London cabbie, and used to drive him to practice sessions. Perhaps it was he whom Billy was hailing? 

Tony Palladino came out for his last innings and soon went back again, walking without the umpire needing to opine. By now, the shouts of “Come on The Middle” are starting. 

In he comes, like a fox in a hen coop. Tim Murtagh, .......bowling at the #11.......... Yes he is and did. Bowled. Job done. 

A vaguely muted atmosphere, given that we had nothing to play for, but a win is a win, and if we just concentrate on how we win the next one, we’ll be heading in the right direction. We have Max Holden, Martin Andersson, Ethan Bamber and Robbie White all in our first team. They all contributed. 

All we are saying,........... is give youth a chance. 


View a Printer Friendly version of this Story.

Bookmark or share this story with:

Billy Don't Be a Hero
Middlesex till we die (IP Logged)
22/09/2018 07:21
What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:09:23:17:49:49 by BarmierKev.

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
chunkyinargyll (IP Logged)
22/09/2018 08:10
Excellent report,PH.

Besides Mick Hunt, the other person you mentioned was Adrian Morgan, who was also retiring, after a mere 40 years on the ground staff, and he was MH's deputy.

Knowing me, if I was in mischievous mood, I suppose I could start a 'Morgan retires' thread, but I've decided against!

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
BarmierKev (IP Logged)
22/09/2018 10:20
It’s Eoin!!!!

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
Primrose Hillbilly (IP Logged)
22/09/2018 11:06
Thank you, Chunky.

In case not seen elsewhere, the third of Tim Murtagh's haul of wickets took him to 50 in the season. As he was away on interntational duty and indisposed at the dentist's, that figure might well have already been higher, and he has the visit to Durham as well.

I first saw him in a T20, playing for the other lot, when in reply to a score of over 200, we were reduced to 0-2 by him in the first two balls of the innings.

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
BeefyRoberts (IP Logged)
22/09/2018 11:23
Entertaining report PH.
As you say,a win is a win.
Was this the first maximum points haul this season? I really can't remember.
'Charming security guards'....I presume you mean the glum faced officers at passport control at the Northern border entry point.

I must admit,amazed that you were the only one to applaud Mick off as he left the lawn for last,first class time..I wonder if he will be bringing a book out? Will be a fascinating read if he did.But,what would he call it?
Green,Green Grass Of Home maybe.
Sowing the Seeds of Time? The list could go on!
Winter well my friend,I'm sure a winter gathering,or two will be arranged,unless you are at the end of season firum (bun fight at dawn)

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
Haringey Racer (IP Logged)
22/09/2018 18:20
Primrose Hillbilly
Thank you, Chunky.
In case not seen elsewhere, the third of Tim Murtagh's haul of wickets took him to 50 in the season. As he was away on interntational duty and indisposed at the dentist's, that figure might well have already been higher, and he has the visit to Durham as well.

I first saw him in a T20, playing for the other lot, when in reply to a score of over 200, we were reduced to 0-2 by him in the first two balls of the innings.

He finished with six-fer in that T20 if memory serves. I think it may have been a T20 record at the time.

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
hdo (IP Logged)
22/09/2018 20:48
Don't think this was the same match PH mentioned, as Murts took 6-24, but only after we'd got off to a flier.


Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
Primrose Hillbilly (IP Logged)
23/09/2018 08:56
My memory of the match, hdo, was that Tim's first, which was the first ball of our innings, saw Ed Smith nick to second slip off a firm drive, and we employed a "pinch hitter" tail ender as our #3, who skied his first ball to deep square leg, rendering us 0- 2.

I am tempted to say the "pinch hitter" was Udal, but am almost certainly wrong.

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
hdo (IP Logged)
23/09/2018 12:52
You're spot on, PH. The batsmen were Ed Smith and, as I'd suspected when you described it, Chad Keegan. []

Murts was actually responsible for 3 golden ducks in our top order, but the third didn't happen until we'd reached the comparatively respectable score of 13-4.

We scraped a half-decent score in the end, thanks to the efforts of someone who's currently persona non grata in these parts.

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
Primrose Hillbilly (IP Logged)
23/09/2018 17:34
I usually know when I am wrong and out of my depth on these things!

My goodness, I have absolutely no recollection of Mohammed Ali bowling, or even appearing for us, hdo. Thank you.

(Did he come in off a shuffling run up, by any chance .....)

Louw ... juuuuuuusssst about, Chad Keegan, he of the alice band, yes, Styris of his dibbly dobbers, who even took the new ball for us in the CC when we were very bereft of pace...

That was a stellar score by Slurrey. It would win even today, especially against us, despite all our technological advances in T20.

However, we can lay claim to developing Tim's batting. He's down at a s/r of 66.66 % then.

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
Westrock (IP Logged)
23/09/2018 19:51
Remember a 2020 at Essex Mohammed Ali played Essex fans in front of us kept shouting at him whilst he was on the boundary “floats like a butterfly stings like a bee” very amusing or “put him in the river Ronnie”

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
Seaxe_Man (IP Logged)
24/09/2018 16:14
Mohammad Ali PH. He had one day when he floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.

Date June 18 Bath 2006 versus Somerset.50 over game. We went down on a rare occasion by Seaxe Coach and Steve Baldwin arranged a nice pub dinner for 6 quid at the lunch break.

Anyway at 158 for 9 he joined your favourite batsman at the wicket, a certain EJG Morgan.

Together they added 57 for the 10th wicket, still a record for MX in this comp, both undefeated. Morgan 50no Ali 15no.

This carried us to a defendable score of 215(just).

We subsequently won by 3 runs and lo and behold Ali took 3 for 36 off his 6 overs.

So, that was his day in the sun for MX. He had previously played for Derby and Warwick if I recall correctly.

My other memory is Barmy Kev bumming his way back on the coach as there was trackwork on the railway on that weekend.

Happy days.

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
Seaxe_Man (IP Logged)
24/09/2018 16:27
Good report PH. I would add that Billy G was one of the first to head out of MX back in 2009 along with a number of the 2008 T20 winners.

The coach Toby Radford went mid season.

He went via Essex to Derby where I'm pleased to say he has found his feet (still under 30). And good luck to him.

It is not often that you see an opener carry his bat and I am sure everyone at Lords on Friday were willing him onto his ton and a red ink entry.,

His shot for 6 off Murts to get him there, was the shot of the day. It came just in time as the Derby wickets had fallen steadily leaving BG with the last man.

Anyway he goes in the Derby records for that. The last MX man I saw do that, was Graham Barlow back in 1983 at Chelmsford on one of Fletcher's spiced up tracks.

Graham made 49no out of the MX 83 all out total.

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
PaulR_enfield (IP Logged)
25/09/2018 20:02
Remember that game at Chelmsford, we ended up batting the last day and a half for the draw, think we ended up with about 600 in the second innings!

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
PaulR_enfield (IP Logged)
25/09/2018 20:02
Remember that game at Chelmsford, we ended up batting the last day and a half for the draw, think we ended up with about 600 in the second innings!

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
adelaide (IP Logged)
25/09/2018 22:31
Pringle and Lever were unplayable, then the pitch flattened out big time. I was there on day one. I remember a superb one handed boundary catch by Richard Ellis, who was then ignored by his team mates, who were perhaps still astounded by some Oxbridge idiot suggesting in the Times that Ellis would become Middlesex captain.


Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
Primrose Hillbilly (IP Logged)
30/09/2018 10:56
Is it not a point of issue for us as a metropolitan county that we don't tap into the Asian talent we have around us?

Gurjit Sandhu went a few years ago, and now Ravi is leaving.

Apparently there are only 4 players in the CC of Caribbean origin, and Daniel Bell - Drummond is actually from quite a posh background, so not exactly straight outta Brixton.

If you go up to the Crouch End area, where North Middx, CE and Highgate play, with Finchley not that far a way too, there are Asian players in every team, so how come they don't get a break through in our youth groups?

Re: Billy Don't Be a Hero
adelaide (IP Logged)
30/09/2018 12:39

Interesting questions. We are two generations on from Windrush and the love of cricket does not seem to have been passed down, plus the West Indies team has been weak for a long time.

Add to that the lack of cricket in most state schools, the ease with which an ad hoc game of football or basketball can be set up, and the riches visible to the most athletic in football and perhaps the shortage of Afro-Caribbean players in the CC is less surprising. I think there is a higher proportion in rugby union but my impression is that most of those had some time in private education, though some may have picked up on rugby-related scholarships.

My impression, looking at Middlesex youth squads and the like, is that Asian youngsters are reasonably well represented there. There is a danger of making generalisations here but if they don't kick on into the professional game might it be because of some family pressure in some Asian families to make a living in something other than sport, so they end up a good class club players at the weekend. The London job market may exacerbate that.

There are hardly any Asians in football or rugby either, despite the financial rewards of the former.

I hope it is no longer the case but if you go back forty years there were lots of preconceptions. Afro-Caribbeans had to be fast bowlers or swashbuckling batsmen. Asians had to be spinners or wristy accumulators. You saw the same in football - the initial black players were supposed to be tricky wingers, then lumps of centre halves, then - oh, hang on, there's no difference! Even fairly recently any tall African box-to-box midfield player was the new Patrick Vieira!


Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
We record all IP addresses on the Sportnetwork message boards which may be required by the authorities in case of defamatory or abusive comment. We seek to monitor the Message Boards at regular intervals. We do not associate Sportnetwork with any of the comments and do not take responsibility for any statements or opinions expressed on the Message Boards. If you have any cause for concern over any material posted here please let us know as soon as possible by e-mailing

Middlesex CCC Poll

Should we have a new Poll

See results > Submit >>