Wind the clock back two years to the summer of 2017, Arthington 1st XI players will remember, not overly fondly, their cup final defeat to Upper Wharfedale. Two seasons later, following back-to-back promotions for both teams, the two clubs met again in the semi-final of this season’s 20-over cup competition. On a sunny Tuesday evening, the team made their way over hill and dale to Grassington, the home of Upper Wharfedale, to give them only their second defeat in three seasons.

Having missed the last two league matches, regular Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi won the toss and elected to bat, opting to use the now familiar cup opening pair of Sajid Hussain and Alex O’Neil. However, things did not start well, as the first over produced no runs and the run out of Hussain from the final ball. O’Neil, who had yet to face a ball, wasted no time playing himself in, striking 2 sixes and a four from the second over, his first, and at the other end, Matthew Moss began what would become a vital innings. 18 runs, including six wides, came from the second over faced by O’Neil. Though he took a liking to the Upper Wharfedale paceman, it was the swing bowling from the other end that eventually doused the fireworks and ended a fine 52-run partnership, just as Moss had begun to get in on the act with some boundaries of his own. O’Neil inadvertently deflected the ball with his pads, onto the stumps, and had to go for 29 runs from only 15 balls including 1 four and 4 sixes, getting the first innings off to an excellent start.

Andrabi joined Moss at the crease and both looked in excellent touch, the highlights of their 54-run stand being Moss’ second six of his innings and Andrabi playing an over of spin expertly, hitting fours through wide mid-off, a vacant fine leg via a sweep and finally cutting through backward point. The partnership was gaining momentum, before a risky second run, following a push into the off-side, led to the run out of Andrabi at the striker’s end for 35 runs from 23 balls. From there, Upper Wharfedale were able to significantly reduce the run rate and continue to take wickets. Moss finally fell for a well-made 41, the top score of the innings, and the final pairing never really got going. Ahmer Sadiq ultimately being bowled out from the last ball of the innings for 12, including an excellent six. After their whirlwind start, Arthington felt they were slightly short of a good score at the end of their innings, finishing on 139-6.

A tight couple of overs, with the exception of a solitary six, from opening bowlers Luke Seaborne and Andrabi, brought about the fall of the first wicket, via a catch by Khamrosh Khan, in his favourite position at point. However, in the next few overs, Arthington’s fielding left a lot to be desired, with several balls finding the boundary that perhaps should have been stopped, as well as a couple of catches being dropped. It was a blessing, therefore, when Andrabi held a caught and bowled chance for the second wicket, which allowed Arthington to get together for a good old-fashioned dressing down from the skipper, which drastically improved the fielding for the remaining overs. Andrabi (5-0-24-3) went on to take a further two wickets, the second of which being a cool catch at long-on by Alex O’Neil, in front of the pavilion, failing to be distracted by the opposition at the side. Ahmer Sadiq replaced Seaborne from the rugby field end and took an over to find his line and length. However, once he had, he proved very difficult to get away, which allowed the final change bowler, Sajid Hussain, to cash in and steal the show. Hussain took four wickets from his four overs at the cost of only 16 runs and removed several key batsmen in the process. He was ably assisted by some great catching from Arthington fielders; Sadiq at cover, Khan at backward point and O’Neil, once more, in the deep, as well as rearranging the woodwork once by himself. Sadiq also chipped in with a wicket before Seaborne (4.1-0-31-2) brought an end to the innings with a yorker on leg-stump, from the first ball of the 19th over. The final score: 106 all out.

Upper Wharfedale never really managed to get a partnership of real substance going throughout their innings, the highest being a 30-run combination for the second wicket, as their wickets fell at key times and at regular intervals. All that means that Arthington will be involved in their 2nd cup final in three seasons, where they hope to go one better than the cup campaign of two seasons ago, when they take on Whixley. Due to the delay of earlier rounds by bad weather, finals day is almost upon us and takes place on Sunday July 21st, only five days after the semi-final success. With the prospect of having a near full-strength team available to them, Arthington are high on confidence going into the final and will aim to avenge the league defeat to Whixley, earlier in the season.

Cup finalists, Arthington 1st XI, including 12th man and scorer

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