The beginning of the 2020 season could not have come soon enough for Arthington, with players eager to take to the cricket field once again following the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions on recreational sport. Both teams produced fine displays to come away from their matches victorious to add to the existing euphoria of simply being able to play cricket after a long and restless wait.

The 1st XI faced a visit from relegated Raskelf at the ACG and fielded a strong side. Despite early attempts by the weather to put a dampener on proceedings, the match began on time with Raskelf winning the toss and putting Arthington in to bat; one of the easier decisions they will have this season.

A new-look opening partnership of Kamrosh Khan and Lawrence Barraclough began positively, but difficult batting conditions soon claimed the first of several victims as Barraclough, on his return to Arthington, mistimed a straight drive into the air and was easily caught for 12. An excellent 69-run partnership for the second wicket between Khan and Matthew Moss (22) laid a solid platform, on which Naveed Andrabi (20) and Khan built further to leave Arthington on a very healthy 143-2 after 25 overs.

However, a wicket in each of the next three overs soon made things tense, as the home side slumped to 153-5; opener Khan among the victims, finally losing his wicket for a stylish and at times explosive 88, which contained 6 sixes and 7 fours. Kevin Braithwaite and debutant Hamza Mahmood each made double figures to steady the ship before an almighty collapse of the middle to lower order saw four wickets fall for only nine runs, leaving only numbers 10 and 11 at the crease, both on 0, with six overs remaining.

A cameo by Luke Seaborne of 30 not out, as exhilarating as it was unlikely, was ably supported by Will ‘The Wall’ Sparling and the final pair took the score over 200. While the latter did not score any runs in their 34-run stand, he determinedly blocked out several overs from Raskelf bowlers to enable Seaborne to punish some bad deliveries with 3 sixes and 2 fours at the other end. Final score for Arthington: 221-9.

Raskelf’s reply seemed to be on track in the early stages, shortly before the first 6-over sanitiser break, with both openers picking up early boundaries from the bowling of Luke Seaborne and Umer Khan. This prompted action from Andrabi, who brought on himself and Ahmer Sadiq for the first early bowling changes. The decision immediately bore fruit, as Andrabi took two important wickets, first bowling a great delivery that moved off the pitch to take off-stump to dismiss the Raskelf opener, before inducing an edge and a low, diving catch at second slip by Seaborne to see off the number three.

With their highest partnership of the match behind them, wickets fell steadily and both Sadiq and Hamza Mahmood helped themselves to the remaining eight. Sadiq finishing with figures of 7.4-1-13-3 and Mahmood, who impressed with both bat and ball, 8-2-19-5. An excellent five-for on debut. Raskelf all out for 131.

Getting a good win capped off an already great day for Arthington, as cricket returned to this part of the world and motivated many plump men and women to don their whites. The 1st XI will look to take their solid performance into their next fixture against Knaresborough Forest.

The Arthington 2nd XI also had a good win away at Walton Park. Jo Nash, on loan for a season from the umpires association, top-scored with a well-made 45 at the top of the order. There were also sizeable contributions from Vince Greaves-Newall (32), Josh Rhodes (17) and new Captain Martin Dickinson (16). The final total: 168-7

With the ball, Martin Hings kept it very tight, conceding just 17 runs from his 11 overs and on debut, Joe Seaborne took a key scalp on his way to figures of 11-2-27-2. Vince Greaves-Newall also took two wickets and there were two run outs. Walton Park finished 26 runs short on 142-6. The next league game for the 2nd XI is in a fortnight’s time against Rainton.

Arthington CC wishes to thank the match ball sponsors for this weekend’s games, each of whom take their ball home with them in addition to getting a mention on the match report.

1st XI match ball sponsor: Kevin Braithwaite

2nd XI match ball sponsor: Mohammed Faiyaz

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