'Poor availability' contributed to North Maidenhead's opening day defeat

A ‘lack of experience and poor availability’ were to blame for North Maidenhead’s disappointing eight-wicket defeat at Falkland on Saturday, something skipper Majid Ashraf doesn’t expect will significantly improve in the coming weeks.

Maids made a bright start to their Division 1 match, with Faheem Quereshi (53) dominating an opening stand of 61 with Jahngir Zaman (14). However, their hopes of posting a par score for the pitch dissipated as wickets tumbled. Ashraf (25no) was left to anchor the innings with precious little support and the visitors crumbled to 148-9 off 40 overs.

On a pitch that had evened up in the warm, summer sunshine, Falkland had little difficulty reeling Maids in for the loss of only two wickets (151-2 in 17.1 overs).

“They’re a good side, but they had full availability and we were missing quite a few,” said Ashraf.

“We had a slightly weaker side than we’d hoped but, on the whole, I thought we started reasonably well.

“We had a decent partnership up top but then we lost a couple of wickets early on and just couldn’t push on. We made about 150 in the end which was a little under par in terms of what we were looking at which had been 200, 220. The lack of experience cost us in the end.

“Faheem (Quereshi) started off well, but then we lost wickets and I had to just try and anchor it a little bit to make sure we got a decent total. But we just kept on losing wickets and, in 40 overs, you try to up the run rate a little bit, but we just kept losing wickets. We always knew we were short.

“It was a nice, hot, day, so the pitch evened out as well after a long day in the sun. So when they came out the ball was coming on a little better. I think they definitely had the better of the playing conditions. The ball quickened up and we were missing three or four players from a bowling point of view so we were always going to struggle.”

Despite tasting defeat Ashraf said it felt good to be playing competitive cricket again, and added that the measures brought in to mitigate against COVID-19 were more noticeable off the field rather than on it.

“It was just nice to be out on the pitch seeing the guys again”, he said.

“It felt normal when we were out there, it didn’t really feel any different from a cricket point of view.

“The umpires were strict in making sure we were following the guidelines so we were two metres apart from the batsmen. But it felt similar to any other game. Off the pitch we had to follow the guidelines, there’s no changing rooms for example and we’re not having teas. So there are definitely differences off the pitch, but once you’re on the field it just feels like another game of cricket.”

North Maids will look to bounce back at home to Slough 2nds, another side who tasted defeat on their opening day, losing by seven wickets at Boyne Hill.

“They’ll be a decent side,” he said.

“We certainly need to improve, but my worry again is that availability will hurt us. You need to have everyone available to be competitive and for the next couple of weeks it’s going to be difficult with availability. But we’ll certainly try to give it a good go and we’ll see how we get on.”

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