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Middlesex's golden age

By Janet Davis
April 10 2003

I have been a cricket fan since my school days (I will not tell you when as that will give my age away). In 1975 whilst watching cricket on tv, Middlesex got to two one day finals and lost. One of the commentators said what a good side they were and that they would challenge for a trophy in 1976. 1976 turned out to be the year of the drought, with no rain during the major part of the cricket season. I work as a Pharmacist, so I worked as a locum, taking time off every so often to go to various matches.

That was the year that I kept a scrap book, which has been given to Vinny for Middlesex archives.

I remember hot sunny days at Lords and making a new set of friends. I went to many of the away matches, some by train, some by car and some by coach. I will try and say a bit on the matches that I remember.

The first match that I remember is the Essex match at Lords in June 1976. Mike Selvey ripped through the Essex first innings ending with figures of 6 wickets for 56 runs. Mike Selvey was one of those bowlers who could keep bowling for long periods, very useful in a medium-fast bowler. Middlesex did not get full batting points (Bonus points were at that time 4 for bowling – at the fall of the 3rd, 5th,7th and 9th wicket and 4 for batting – at 150,200,250 and 300) with Graham Barlow top scoring on 65. Essex fared better in their second innings with McEwan top scoring on 95 and Keith Fletcher scoring a useful 64. Mike Selvey again was among the wickets taking 4 wickets for 65 runs. This left Middlesex a target of 130 which they achieved comfortably, but not before losing 4 wickets. Graham Barlow again was top scorer with 62 runs.

In those days after Middlesex I used to say that Essex was my second team, as I had family in Southend. I even went to Essex matches when Middlesex were playing outside London.

The next match in 1976 that I remember is going to Chelmsford for the Essex /Middlesex match in August. Up until this stage Essex were serious contenders for the championship. An unbroken stand of 236 by Graham Barlow and Clive Radley put paid to any bowling bonus points for Essex, and effectively ruled them out of the championship race. Middlesex of course won this vital encounter. Essex were set 282 in the final innings, and almost made it until Norman Featherstone took 4 of the last 6 wickets for 47 runs giving Middlesex a win by 36 runs.

The final match of this glorious season that I remember is the match at the Oval vs. Surrey. It was when the drought broke, and there were stoppages for bad light etc. Middlesex needed 4 points to clinch the championship. Surrey batted first and made 308 runs for 8 wickets, thus depriving Middlesex of full bowling bonus points.

My friend and I had made a cake in the shape of a cricket bat, which we took to the ground on the second day. After Middlesex had clinched the championship, at approx.4.00pm on the second day, there was yet another break for bad light. Jane and I took the cake to the pavilion, but a streaker stole our thunder (picture sent separately). The break for bad light gave the team a chance to eat the cake. I remember that the Surrey committee had to force John Edrich (the then Surrey captain) to congratulate Mike Brearley on bringing the championship back to London.

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