Arthington 1st XI’s excellent cup campaign reached its climax at Ripon Cricket ground on finals day. Despite the confidence of their previous round and a good all-round performance on the day, their opponents, Whixley, as yet unbeaten in the league and cup this season, proved to be too strong and came away with a well-deserved victory. Several key moments in the match also failed to go Arthington’s way, which proved to be the difference.

Arthington skipper, Naveed Andrabi, won the toss and after the success of setting an unreachable total against tough opposition in the semi-final, opted to bat first once more. The pitch was not the easiest to bat on and, due to the large boundaries, the normal six-hitting approach of opener Alex O’Neil was somewhat stifled. He and Sajid Hussain opened the Arthington innings again and began well, with excellent running between the wickets and some clean boundary hitting. The score had reached 32 before the first wicket fell, as Hussain missed a straight ball, which dislodged the bails. Andrabi joined O’Neil at the crease and had helped move their partnership on to 30 runs, before arguably the game’s moment of greatest controversy occurred. The slow right-arm bowler, on as first change, served up a tempting delivery outside Andrabi’s off-stump. To the batting pair and seemingly most people watching on from the side, there was clear daylight between bat and ball, but a faint sound, later attributed to the bat hitting the ground, caused the bowler and wicketkeeper to appeal as one and the umpire, inexplicably, raised his finger.

Arthington had lost another wicket before another key moment in the match. Alex O’Neil, who had reached 36 runs and was going along nicely, mishit a push into the on-side and was easily caught at mid-on, leaving the score on 72-4. Matt Moss and Khamrosh Khan both tried to add late impetus in the innings, but were dismissed in single figures and only Wasim Malik was able to make any further contribution of significance. His 18-run cameo included an enormous six from a no-ball and an even further blow into cow corner, which somehow only scored four runs, due to the dimensions of the ground, but undoubtedly would have been a six on almost any other pitch in the county. Wickets continued to tumble though, including two in the final over, as Arthington looked to steal a few late runs and at the end of the 20 overs, the score had reached 119-9; a little on the low side and a tough target to defend.

The bowling innings started brightly, with the first wicket falling in only the third over from the bowling of Luke Seaborne. The batsman holed out to Martin Dickinson at deep mid-wicket who held the catch. Seaborne and Andrabi bowled tightly and were putting the batsmen under real pressure, but the 5-over maximum hurt Arthington, as the Whixley batsmen took a liking to the change bowling and began to score more heavily. Wasim Malik, following his exploits with the bat, also impressed with the ball and bowled extremely economically, conceding only 12 runs from his 4 overs. His persistence was rewarded with a wicket as well, when the Whixley number three edged a catch behind to wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson. Shortly afterwards, the Whixley batsmen collided with each other in the middle of the wicket, whilst attempting a second run and allowed for an easy run out by Kevin Braithwaite, following his throw from the deep cover boundary. Thankfully, only the pride of the dismissed Whixley batsman seemed hurt, as he trudged off the pitch.

The fourth wicket partnership was then enough to see Whixley across the line and win the match. The remaining opening batsman carried his bat and made it to his 50 in the later stages of the innings and he was ably supported by the Whixley captain. Despite Seaborne (4-0-18-1) and Andrabi returning towards the end, the task was too much and, with many wickets in hand, the Whixley batsmen could play freely and reached the target set by Arthington with two overs to spare: 122-3.

This was the 1st XI’s second cup final in three seasons and all of the players involved should be extremely proud of their efforts in the previous rounds, as well as in the final itself. Ultimately, the opposition proved too strong in the final and it is no disgrace to lose against them, as they also look set to clinch the third division league title, possibly unbeaten. Having now had a taste of these occasions, it is surely only a matter of time, in the seasons to come, until Arthington can add some silverware to their trophy cabinet. As it is, they will have to wait another year and must now concentrate on their league performances until the end of the season.

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