LONDON CUP – Middlesex v Surrey: So Long, London

In a match that existed in a strange No Man’s Land between the professional and amateur eras, Surrey beat Middlesex by 6 wickets at The Oval to retain the London Cup.

It was a day high-profile enough for there to be a multi-camera live-stream, and for us to be told off for briefly walking on (the very edge of) the outfield on our way over to the press box; but low-profile enough that said press box was not actually open!

On the field there was just one full time professional on show for Surrey – Southern Vipers keeper Rhianna Southby – and unless Southby moves to Surrey next season, it is likely that none of today’s Surrey side will feature for the county next season as pros in Tier 1. (Ironically, the most probable destination for any of them wishing to continue to play cricket next season in Tier 2 will be Middlesex.) Meanwhile, the most senior player of the field for Middlesex was Sunriser Kate Coppack.

After a disastrous start which saw them lose a wicket in each of the first 3 overs of the powerplay, Middlesex stuttered to 28-6 in the 9th over, before a 58 run partnership between Artemis Downer (35*) and Sonali Patel (26) gave the visitor’s innings some credibility – more so, at least, than their professional male counterparts who were in the process of being dismantled for 78 in their T20 Blast match against Somerset on the north side of the river! Middlesex finished on 96-8 – Downer and Patel the only batters to make double-figures.

Rhianna Southby – a decent tail-ender in regionals, who hit 25* here, coming in at 8 for Vipers a couple of weeks ago – opened the batting for Surrey. She played the shot of the day – cracking a full toss off Gaia Gole through mid on for 4 in the opening over – but was cleaned-up by Kate Coppack off the first ball of the second over to end her involvement in proceedings. Coppack then added the scalp of Surrey veteran Kirstie White three balls later – well caught behind the stumps by Georgia Irving.

Surrey’s rebuild, led by Amy Gordon (25) was steady rather than spectacular, taking Surrey to 46-3 at the half-way mark, putting them slightly behind on WinHer, which to be fair is based on professional cricket, but is still a reasonable indicator that they weren’t exactly in a commanding position at that stage.

All it was going to take though was two-or-three big overs, and Surrey found them with Thea Brookes leading the charge, taking 11, 7 and 10 off the 11th, 12th and 13th overs. Thereafter was pretty plain-sailing for Surrey, with Brookes finishing 26*, as Charlotte Stubbs hit the winning run in the 18th over.

The game has travelled a long way since the first London Cup won by Middlesex at this ground in 2015. The Kia Super League has come and gone, and by the end of this season regionals will have followed it to the great trophy cabinet in the sky. Whether we’ll see this fixture played again is an open question, with Surrey not expected to field an amateur team next year, whilst their professional side will be in Tier 1. With Middlesex competing as amateurs in Tier 2, any future games would likely be embarrassing mismatches. But while it lasted, it was fun; and if it doesn’t continue, we can only say: So long, London; it was indeed a good run.

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