Last season, Arthington 1st XI took part in a truly memorable game against Hampsthwaite, where they were able to win against all odds and keep their unbeaten run for the season intact. Many believed that a game like that could never be repeated, however, several months yet only 6 league games later, lightning struck twice, as a depleted 1st team managed to win against Spofforth, when defeat seemed inevitable.

Lightning was probably the only thing missing from the game that had almost everything, but it all looked to be heading towards a cancellation, as the team travelled to the ground in torrential rain. Thankfully, the skies cleared temporarily and the match got underway on time. For the first time in the season, captain Naveed Andrabi won the toss and elected to bat first; his reasoning being that Arthington would have the better fielding conditions in the second innings. Sadly, this turned out not to be the case.

Another new opening pair of Andrabi and Ahmer Sadiq faltered early on, as Andrabi was given out LBW for only 6, and Khamrosh Khan swiftly followed, shortly after a huge shot that cleared the ropes: 6 and out. Kevin Braithwaite was the next man in and formed the beginnings of a good, rain-interrupted partnership with Sadiq that reached 35. Sadly, this was brought to a premature end by a mix-up and a slip, leaving Sadiq halfway down the wicket and run out. Wasim Malik, who has impressed with the bat in recent weeks, also managed to work well with Braithwaite, combining for a partnership of 38. He then tried to hit a full, straight delivery back to Arthington, missed, and heard leather on wood, signifying the end of his 21-run innings.

That wicket signalled the start of another lower order collapse, as the score went from 101-3 to 131 all out. The ducks were once again out in force in the wet weather, as Arthington made another 4 in total. In the latter part of the innings, the majority of the damage was done by the Spofforth opening bowler, in his second spell, who sent bails flying as he bowled out Malik, Ravinder Bhanot and Luke Seaborne in similar fashion.

Due to the earlier rain delay, the match had been reduced to 38 overs per side and Arthington were able to last until the end of the penultimate over, until Braithwaite attempted to sneak a single to retain the strike and Mohammed Adil was caught napping at the other end, failing to make his ground. This left Braithwaite stranded not out for a crucial and well-made 47.

The Spofforth response started out in a fairly controlled manner. The opening bowling pair of Andrabi and Seaborne failed to make significant impact, although Andrabi did strike with an LBW in the 6th over to remove the Spofforth opener for 1. It wasn’t until the change bowlers began their spells that things really began to happen. An incredible spell of economic bowling by Ahmer Sadiq (10-4-13-1) tightened the screw and it was his impact that made the breakthrough to dismiss the other opening batsman, who had been going nicely on 40. At the other end, teenage superstar Umer Khan was having none of the luck, as he induced a drive to Trevor Lobley at gulley, only to see it put down; the driving rain summing up the mood fairly accurately at this point. However, Lobley made up for this in remarkable fashion in the next over, as he ran out another batsman who had been going along well, his throw from cover sending the off stump crashing to the ground, following a poorly judged single. Khan did eventually get the wicket that he deserved though; caught behind by Khamrosh Khan, who had donned the gloves in the absence of regular wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson and who performed admirably and energetically throughout.

A 20-run partnership for the 5th wicket had taken the score to 123-4 at the end of the 31st over. With Spofforth only requiring a further 9 runs for victory with 7 overs still to play, they were on the brink of victory. But as has been proven in the past, Arthington cannot be written off so easily. Seaborne (7-0-20-2) and Andrabi (10-3-28-4) returned for their second spells and Seaborne struck immediately. A length ball kept low on the now difficult batting surface and crashed into the base of off stump, which keeled over in resigned fashion onto the soggy surface. 3 balls later and history repeated itself, only in far more spectacular fashion. Seaborne, who later informed anyone who would listen that this was the greatest ball he has ever bowled, sent down a jaffa that pitched on middle stump and moved off the pitch, striking the top of the off stump and sending it cartwheeling back towards wicketkeeper Khan. Jubilation ensued and the new batsman even did Arthington the kindness of taking a single from the last ball of the over; spoiling the opportunity of a double-wicket maiden, but keeping the set batsman at the wrong end for Andrabi’s next over.

And costly, it proved to be. Andrabi sent down a wicket maiden, uprooting the stumps once more with his 3rd ball and firing down another three thunderbolts to keep the new man at the crease honest. The field spread for the start of Seaborne’s next over and the number 6 batsman, who ended not out on 12, only managed a single from the first ball, but Seaborne was not able to make further inroads into the Spofforth tail. 5 dot balls.

And so began the final over of that match, with the fielders standing on all parts of the boundary to entice an easy single. The batsman duly obliged from the first ball of the over, which left Andrabi, in his tenth and final over, with the chance of sealing a most unlikely victory. The first two balls did not trouble the batsman unduly, but the third crashed into the timbers. A member of the Spofforth side had, unfortunately, had to leave the match early, so this brought the last man across the spongy outfield and to the crease. The tension intensified as Andrabi bowled a dot ball, but in almost poetic fashion, with the last ball of his spell, he produced a straight and low full-toss, the batsman missed it and the whole team appealed…LBW!

5 wickets from 4 overs for only 3 runs. 126 all out. Arthington win by 5 runs.

Great credit must be given to all 11 players for their performances in horrible conditions, as well as to the opposition. There were 2 lengthy rain delays during the match, which the report glosses over somewhat, one in each innings. Had not both teams thought they could win towards the end, the match may well have been abandoned, as it began raining heavily again. This was a remarkable ending to a great match. Those who failed to perform with the bat more than made up for it with the ball or in the field. Congratulations to everyone. Well played.

ACC Logo The victorious Arthington 1st XI post-match (sans Lobley but avec Greaves-Newall) The victorious Arthington 1st XI post-match (sans Lobley but avec Greaves-Newall)

At the ACG, the 2nd XI made 118-8 (Matt Moss, 40) from a reduced 32-over 1st innings. The opposition were 61-4 in their reply, when the bad weather meant that the match was abandoned.

Arthington CC would like to thank the match ball sponsors for this week’s matches:

1st XI match ball sponsor: Kevin Braithwaite
2nd XI match ball sponsor: Ken Clayton