North London skipper praises Shabbir as basement boys earn first win of the season
Hussain Shabbir might have been on a food fast, but he feasted on runs instead as basement boys North London finally recorded their first win of the season in Division Three of the Middlesex County Cricket League.
As a devout Muslim, Shabbir has been observing the holy month of Ramadhan since mid-June, but he defied the heat to hit 60 in a century stand with Tom Wakeford (61) and rescue the visitors from what looked like another batting train wreck at Kenton.
Roshan Tennakoon’s four-wicket haul then ensured their total was too many for the hosts.
Unsurprisingly, skipper Jack Atchinson reserved special praise for Shabbir, whose ‘reward’ was to take on the role of envious onlooker during the delights of the tea interval.
“Hussain batted beautifully for more than two hours,” said Atchinson. “He and Tom Wakeford changed the game. Unfortunately, because he was fasting, poor Hussain then had to watch us scoffing our faces at tea, but what he and Tom achieved made a massive difference to us in the field. We could have been mentally broken if we had just gone and collapsed again.”
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For a while on Saturday it looked like a severe case of deja vu for Atchinson’s side.
The skipper himself fell early to Shaffiq Mohammad (3-33) and, although North London recovered to reach 48-1, that soon became 53-5.
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Atchinson admits he was concerned about a repeat of recent defeats, but Shabbir and Wakeford set about repairing the innings and avoiding another calamity.
There was little further resistance once they were separated, but the score of 203 gave Atchinson options in the field that he has not enjoyed for most of the campaign.
“By now the pitch was crumbling and the ball was keeping low, so the score we had on the board allowed me to place attacking fields and set traps,” he said.
“Roshan and Yasir Hashmi (2-31) both bowled well but if we had been all out for 100 earlier, as we might have been, that would not have mattered.”
Only home skipper Ashish Karia (66) held up North London’s victory charge for long, leaving Atchinson and co to enjoy a feeling he admits they could barely remember.
“Back at the beginning of the season I don’t think we ever imagined we would have to wait until July for our first win – it’s been a long time coming,” he added.
“We had forgotten how to win, so a few beers were enjoyed on Saturday night and we are now looking forward to Bessborough on Saturday. Hopefully it’s onwards and upwards from here.”