It had the potential to be another soggy affair at the ACG this week, due to a downpour a few hours before the start of play, but thankfully things cleared up, which allowed the 1st XI’s home match against Bishop Monkton to go ahead uninterrupted and saw Arthington overcome a difficult start to achieve a comfortable 20-point win.

On a green pitch that was a bit of a bowler’s paradise, Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi turned a few heads by winning the toss and electing to bat first. His goal was simple: intimidate the other teams in the league, by putting on a batting display so formidable, that every game from here on in would be a concession by the opposition. However, the plan did not start perfectly, as first Andrabi, then Ahmer Sadiq and finally Sajid Hussain all saw their respective shots caught by Bishop Monkton fielders, taking the early score to 27-3. Not being accustomed to being on the back foot and with plenty of batting ability still tanning nicely outside the hut, it had not yet reached ‘panic required’ stage, and a fourth wicket stand of 61 between Khamrosh Khan (24) and Andrew Metzelaar (16), ably assisted by Wide Ball steadied the ship, seeing the score reach 88-3. In seemingly no time at all though, it was 88-6. Khan missed a straight one that clipped the extra coat of varnish on the bails to send them tumbling, Metzelaar was trapped LBW in the very next over and Martin Hings’ stay was akin to that of a particularly disobedient dog, as he managed a golden duck.

Despite the number six batsman, Alex O’Neil, heading to the crease earlier, it was actually the number eight, Andrew Dowson, who faced a ball first from the pair. The two combined for a 22-run partnership, with Dowson (15) scoring the bulk of the runs, before stepping away to the leg-side to allow the ball room to crash into the stumps. The situation looked all too familiar for Arthington, following last week’s defeat, but where there were once two ducks next to the names of O’Neil and Mohsin Ali, the new man in, there now soared two magnificent birds of prey, both of whom seized on the meaty offerings served up by the Bishop Monkton bowlers, clearly tiring in the heat, and their 83-run partnership would prove to be decisive in the outcome of the match. Ali was eventually caught for an explosive 28, which included 2 fours and 2 sixes but the star of the show was O’Neil, who struck an unbeaten 78, with 6 fours and 5 sixes, even contributing the majority of the runs in a quick 29-run partnership with Luke Seaborne, from only 13 balls to round off the innings: 222-8.

Seaborne and Hussain opened the bowling for Arthington in the second innings and each took a wicket in their first spell; Seaborne cleaning out middle stump and Hussain forcing a loose shot and a catch at point by Khamrosh Khan. But a stubborn 45-run partnership for the 3rd wicket, including the opening batsman who would go on to reach his 50, saw the pair profit from the bowling of Andrabi and Martin Hings to take the score to 88-2 at the halfway point. At the interval, Arthington welcomed back club legend Vince Greaves-Newall, who had only featured as a dedicated scorer in the season so far, as a substitute fielder for Hings. Clearly his entrance inspired Umer Khan, on as a second-change bowler after drinks, as he mopped up the upper and middle order in quick time. A devastating 5-over spell of 5-1-26-3 including catches by Andrabi and Metzelaar and a Bowled. Seaborne and Andrabi then returned for their second spells and both took a wicket in their first over, Andrabi sending the bails flying from one end before Seaborne (7-3-25-3) sent his very first ball back into the base of leg stump from the other.

With the Bishop Monkton resistance depleted and the runs required seemingly beyond them, captain Andrabi turned to spin in the unlikely form of 6’7” Alex O’Neil, whose back had luckily suffered no ill effects from carrying the earlier batting performance. The unpredictable nature of his bowling certainly posed a few problems for the tail-enders and, despite seeing the number eleven club a fabulous six over the hedge from a leg-side full toss, O’Neil (2-0-15-2) took the final two wickets; a catch at long-off by Arthington’s star fielder of the day, Khamrosh Khan and a tidy stumping from wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson. Bishop Monkton all out for 166.

It was important for Arthington to bounce back from the disappointment of their previous week’s performance against Bolton Abbey and they did so in fine style after a tricky start to their batting innings. The middle and lower order played their part and the bowling and fielding was much improved. The 1st XI’s next game is away against their fellow promoted team, Sessay.

Away from home, the 2nd XI had a disappointing performance in a close game. Batting first they made 81 and were all out in only the 29th over. However, Dacre Banks needed all eleven batsmen, nine of their wickets and 34.3 overs to chase down the total, reaching 82-9 to clinch victory. Wasim Malik top scored with bat and ball: 26 and 10-3-17-4.

Thanks to the match ball sponsors for both teams this week: Headingley Councillors

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