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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Northern Powerhouse finally stirs into life

Joe Clarke swings the ball away to leg during his half-century Getty Images

North 335 for 8 (D'Oliveira 79, Clarke 71, Critchley 64) beat South (Gubbins 109, Evans 64) by 46 runs

The North finally tasted victory against the South at the fifth attempt, winning another hugely entertaining contest by 46 runs, tying the three match series at one apiece, bagged a cheque for 10000 and in so doing achieved something that has been beyond successive UK governments for the better part of 40 years in redistributing money from South to North.

On a blustery day at the Kensington Oval, the North set up what would have been the highest run chase at this venue and in posting 335, ensured that the top two list A totals achieved here have been set by the two different halves of England (and Wales of course, though Glamorgan have no players in the South squad) following the South's record breaking 347 on Sunday.

Runs have come aplenty for both sides in both games in the opening power plays, and despite two tight maidens from Sam Curran, Joe Clarke and Alex Davies plundered a spectacular 92 from the first ten overs. It took Clarke 15 balls to get off the mark but he more than made up for it with 71 from his next 44.

Nonetheless, assistant coach of the South side Andy Flower, guesting on BBC's commentary, was hugely frustrated when he slapped a Dominic Bess long-hop into the gleeful hands of Curran, diving smartly to his right at midwicket. Clarke is a man the England management are monitoring closely. He is very near the front of the cab rank, and Flower's reaction told you how much they want him to succeed.

There was a big hundred there for the taking and after doing pretty much everything right it was an infuriating way to go. She's a cruel mistress is cricket. As Peter Cook's Alan Latchley so sagely said (though about football), "she can bring tears to your eyes and blood to your shoulders".

Clarke's wicket left the North perilously perched on 132 for 4 in the 20th over and in danger of squandering their splendid start, but a mature partnership of 108 between the skipper Steven Mullaney and Brett D'Oliveira, who top scored with 79, got the innings back on track and provided the perfect platform for a hell-raising 64 from Derbyshire's Matt Critchley.

Many of us have been under the misguided impression that Critchley was a leg-spinner who could bat. Well, it turns out he's a batsman who can bowl leg-spin. It may be a bit early to file him under "the next Steve Smith", apart from anything else Smith has rarely struck four fours and four sixes in 37 balls, but he demonstrated again the value to the selectors of this fixture as a means of identifying the next generation of one-day talent. And the value of bringing a massive box of replacement balls as the roof of the Greenidge and Haynes stand came in for a regular buffeting.

It took a startling catch in the deep by Delray Rawlins to dismiss him. Amidst the carnage, the South's two left-arm seam bowlers, Paul Walter (a man who can't help but evoke memories of Alan Mullaly, albeit that he's around four inches taller) and Sam Curran shared five wickets between them but it was Dom Bess who again proved the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 47 from his ten overs.

What the visiting Joel Garner made of another slow, tacky pitch is anyone's guess (he didn't hang around long), but it is the way of things in Barbados these days.

The South's reply was barely any less frenetic with Nick Gubbins picking up where he left off on Sunday. He stroked his second hundred of the series off a mere 85 balls. Opening partner to Alastair Cook since Andrew Strauss retired has been a role more cursed than 16th Century Pope, first century AD Roman Emperor or Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. Mark Stoneman is the man currently in possession of the poisoned chalice, but it's Nick Gubbins who is peering over his shoulder.

He found fine support in a century partnership from Laurie Evans who channelled his inner Jason Roy in an increasingly fluent innings of 64, but the reintroduction of Richard Gleeson turned the match. First a fabulous, perfectly pitched yorker that the by now departed "Big Bird" would have appreciated castled Gubbins for 109, and a repeat dose two balls later did for Rawlins.

Evans and Curran threw away their wickets trying to get after Matthew Parkinson who finished with 3 for 47 from 9 overs, the former smashing a short ball out to deep cover, the latter charging past a deliciously dipping leg break. Davies completed the stumping with Curran roughly three quarters of the way through an inelegant pirouette with his head pointing skywards. Surrey's Ollie Pope tried to shepherd the rapidly vanishing tail but eventually was last out for a busy 42 from 35 balls, Saqib Mahmood hitting the stumps for the sixth time in two matches.

A pop concert is scheduled for the weekend at the Kensington Oval so the third and final match will be played at the Three W's Stadium down the road with 30000 going to the winners.

South 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st61DJ Bell-DrummondNRT Gubbins
2nd41SA NortheastNRT Gubbins
3rd101LJ EvansNRT Gubbins
4th1LJ EvansDMW Rawlins
5th17LJ EvansOJ Pope
6th14SM CurranOJ Pope
7th34OJ PopePI Walter
8th17DM BessOJ Pope
9th1JA PorterOJ Pope
10th2RH PatelOJ Pope