After a week of some truly miserable weather, the prospect of playing a match to its completion seemed unlikely at the start of Saturday. The 1st XI hosted Markington at the ACG, looking to replicate their impressive performance last time out. Markington won an important toss and, in one of the least surprising moments of the season so far, opted to bowl first.

The opening pair of Sajid Hussain and Naveed Andrabi started tentatively and it took several overs for the first boundary. The score increased gradually for the first few overs, without major incident, until Hussain was trapped LBW in front of middle stump in the 14th over. Markington seized on Ahmer Sadiq’s cautious approach and crowded the bat with close fielders and just as it seemed as though Sadiq had broken the shackles, after a big shot over mid-on, he looped a defensive push up to a grateful short mid-wicket, for a simple catch. One of the biggest moments of the first innings came when Andrabi was on 27, getting a thin edge on an attempted cut shot. Inexplicably, the wicketkeeper let it spill out of his gloves giving the opener a reprieve. This was gladly accepted by Andrabi, who batted stylishly and sensibly, going on to reach 93 and eventually being caught on the long-on boundary. Despite the best efforts of two fielders to mess it up by running in to each other, the bigger man held on and left the other in a heap. Andrabi’s innings was his highest score of the season so far and included 7 fours and 4 sixes.

Alex O’Neil also wasted no time continuing his good form and played an exciting innings of 35, including 4 sixes, 2 fours and, significantly, 3 singles, after which he looked positively worn out. The rest of the lower order added a few runs in the final overs and the final score of 194-8 looked to be a good one, given the conditions. There had been several short showers during the batting effort, but they were not enough to force the players off the field.

In reply, Markington were 21-2 after only 4 overs, when heavy rain stopped play. Naveed Andrabi was the pick of the two opening bowlers, striking twice in his second over and finishing with figures of 2-0-10-2. Sadly, there was to be no more play, as the rain persisted. The captains eventually shook hands and abandoned the game as a draw. It was an unfortunate end to what looked like a good contest. The result, or lack of one, had little impact on the 1st XI’s league position though, as every game in the division was abandoned as well. Next week sees 2nd play 3rd when Whixley travel to the ACG in one of the most eagerly anticipated matches of the season so far. Everybody has everything crossed in the hope of a nice, sunny day.

Due to the weather and the subsequent lack of inches devoted to the 1st XI this week, it seems fitting to give the 2nd XI a fuller round-up of their match against Ouseburn 3rd XI. In an extraordinary match, the 2nd team beat both their opponents and the weather in decisive style and there were some remarkable performances from several players. Crucially, stand-in captain Dave Howard won the toss and elected to field first. Zameer Ahmed and the ever-reliable Dennis Nash opened the bowling and the pair blasted away the top order in devastating fashion. Ahmed took five wickets, four of which separated bail from stump in a fine display of swing bowling. Incredibly, he was twice presented with an opportunity of a hat-trick, but failed to bowl the magic third consecutive delivery, finishing with figures of 6-1-24-5. Change bowler Martin Hings, who has already had some impressive bowling figures this season, produced another set in a short but deadly spell, taking three wickets in two overs for the concession of only one run. He, too, was on a hat-trick and nearly had it as well, but for a fumble in the gully. After the match, there were varied reports on the level of difficulty of the catch, depending on who was asked. Mohammed Faiyazuddin wrapped up the innings with only his 3rd ball, taking the final wicket without conceding a run. Ouseburn all out for 48.

The reply was not without a few jitters, as three wickets did fall in the 12.2 overs it took to chase down the total, but the (almost) birthday boy Vince Greaves-Newall, in his full return to match cricket, made sure of the victory with a quickfire 23 runs, batting at number four, including 2 fours and 2 sixes. Everyone at Arthington is glad to see Vince back playing and in the runs; the winning total 49-3, and all before the rains came!

It is still unclear what the victory really means for Arthington’s promotion hopes, as division seven is using an alternative formula to determine who advances, due to the number of conceded games so far, but this was an emphatic victory that can only inspire the team to more victories in the weeks to come.

As ever, Arthington Cricket Club extends its gratitude to the match ball sponsors for both teams this week: Gipton & Harehills Councillors

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