Club Cricket Conference

Tuesday, 30th November 2021

Arshad produces amazing league finale for Finchley

By Charles Randall

23 September 2014

There can be little doubt about the best premier league bowling performance this season, taking analysis and match situation into account. Muhammad “Ammar” Arshad took all 10 for Finchley in Middlesex at Arden Field on the last Saturday when they had to beat the champions Teddington to avoid an unprecedented relegation to Division Two.

Incredibly Arshad was only a fringe seam bowler, mainly a second-teamer after joining at the start of the season from third-tier Harrow Town. Only one player had achieved all 10 wickets in the league for any club previously – the late, great left-arm spinner Peter Ray for Richmond back in 1976.

Finchley scored 213-6 steadily off 64 overs, with opener George Charlton anchoring the innings with 89. This meant that a drawn match, a 'losing' one, would not be enough for Jake Milton's side. That was the background when Arshad began his 21-over marathon, which left him exhausted and almost immobile by the time he caught and bowled last man David Keightley for figures of 10-72. Teddington were bowled out for 194.

The final wicket triggered scenes of sheer joy, with Arshad mobbed by his team-mates. The Teddington players gave him a well deserved ovation, and social media overheated with good wishes.  

Arshad relived the day for the league website He said: "The morning of the game we did some light training and then we had a little speech by our captain Jake Milton. For me it was very inspiring and spurred me on to give it my best. He said we had a chance to make a name for ourselves, do something out of the blue and it will be talked about in years to come. It struck in my mind, and I felt I had to do something. I knew I had three opportunities to affect the result, with bat, ball or something special in the field. Batting did not go well, so it was down to the ball.”

Arshad continued: “Funnily my first ball was a wide, but then I picked up a wicket and continued to pick up a couple more in my early overs. The ball then stopped swinging, which was not good for me as I bowl outswingers, but then we really worked hard on the ball as a team to get it swinging again. They were still in with a chance to win the game and were going for it, but then I took my seventh and eighth wickets really quickly and felt this is the chance to do something for the team. I also got the ball to reverse and found that a useful tactic when bowling to the lower order. Eight of my 10 wickets were either caught behind the wicket/slips or bowled, so that was also a pleasing moment for me.

“After the ninth wicket went to me, I started to cramp up, but was determined that we would win the game. To be honest my mind was not on taking all 10 wickets but winning, so was supporting the other bowlers from my fielding position. I actually couldn't run properly, so I limped up to bowl the final wicket-taking delivery and took a caught and bowled. Once I did that I knew something unbelievable had happened, the players all jumped on me and we started celebrating.”

Teddington's all-round cricket, typified by their durable off-spinner Duncan Wood, had secured the title with a week to spare, and their defeat narrowed their final points margin to four ahead of runners-up Twickenham, with Ealing a point further behind. The outstanding batsman of the season proved to be Steve Eskinazi, of Stanmore, with 770 runs at an average of 51.33. His club form and his prolific scoring in county second XI cricket earned him a Middlesex contract.

Brondesbury finished bottom, despite Will Vanderspar's 525 runs at 40.38, and Hornsey were relegated with them, despite 663 runs and 38 wickets from their Australian captain Michael Philipson. Indian Gymkhana and Southgate will replace them in Division One for 2015. Winchmore Hill copped a second consecutive relegation after their maiden title year of 2012, along with Harrow to join Arshad's old club Harrow Town in Division Three.