Following the disappointing news that Arthington 1st XI’s opponents had conceded, an opportunity arose for the 2nd XI to receive full coverage of their demolition of Spofforth 2nd XI in a match that showcased some fabulous individual performances.

Arthington captain Martin Dickinson won the toss and, in glorious conditions and the prospect of an excellent batting pitch, opted to bat first.

Yet things did not start well for the visitors, as they lost opener Jo Nash in the very first over to a catch at slip. Dickinson and Umer Khan bided their time and absorbed the best of the Spofforth bowling without moving the score along all that quickly. It wasn’t until after the first drinks break at 18 overs that the innings began to gain real momentum; the batsmen opting to play more aggressively and move the score in the right direction.

Unfortunately, this change of approach proved the undoing of Dickinson, who feathered the thinnest of edges behind to the Spofforth wicketkeeper to make the score 50-2. The fall of the captain’s wicket brought Wasim Malik to the crease alongside Khan and together they formed a terrific 116-run partnership for the third wicket.

Despite seeing the majority of the overs to this point, Khan was actually beaten to his half-century, as Malik punished any bad bowling with ruthless efficiency. In fact, when Khan was finally dismissed for exactly 50, following a catch at long-on, Malik had already reached 76 and showed no signs of slowing down. Khan’s excellent and disciplined fifty was his first for Arthington and included 3 fours.

Gareth Meredith had a brief innings but wasted litte time before being caught behind. This left Malik and Vince Greaves-Newall, sporting some very garish mustard-yellow pads, to take on the remaining overs. In typical fashion, Malik brought up his century with a six and followed that up with two more in consecutive deliveries. The field was spread far and wide at this point but could do nothing to prevent the onslaught from Malik, who peppered the nearby fields with maximums. As the dust settled at the end of the innings, Malik departed for an unbeaten 132, including 9 fours, 10 sixes and some fine running between the wickets. Greaves-Newall, whose one-handed straight drive for six towards the end of proceedings will live long in the memory, was also unbeaten on 15 at the end. There was some sympathy for Tom Mitchell and Joe Seaborne who had both spent the entire innings padded up ready to bat, but with quick scoring required the captain chose more aggressive options. Arthington: 244-4 from their 40 overs.

The Spofforth reply seemed a difficult enough task to begin with, but once Joe Seaborne and Martin Hings had finished their opening spells, it had become virtually impossible. Hings was first to strike when the opening batsman inexplicably swung to the leg-side as the ball clattered into the stumps. Seaborne then set up the chance of a hat-trick with the final two balls of his next over. His first wicket came about as the result of a fine inswinger and left the umpire in no doubt once the ball had been stopped by the batsman’s pads. The second was a catch at mid-off by Martin Dickinson.

Although the hat-trick did not materialise, that was not the end of the wicket taking from the opening pair. Gareth Meredith took a catch at mid-off for Hings’ second wicket before both openers rounded off their spells with a caught and bowled apiece; Seaborne’s a particularly fine one-handed grab. Seaborne finished with fantastic figures of 6-2-9-3 and Hings with an even more remarkable spell: 7-2-5-3.

With the score at an incredible 19-6, there was a brief lull in the fall of wickets as change bowlers Mohammed Faiyazuddin and Vince Greaves-Newall found their stride and a 26-run partnership followed. But soon after, 45-6 became 48 all out, as the Spofforth lower order capitulated. Greaves-Newall (4-0-12-1) broke the partnership with the help of Meredith at long-off, who held a difficult, high catch near the boundary. Faiyazuddin (5.3-3-13-3) then made short work of the remaining batsmen after catches by Greaves-Newall and Hings and a long-range stumping by Dave Howard, capping off an outstanding 196-run victory.

The result sees Arthington keep their spot at the top of the division, despite playing a game less than their three closest rivals. Next week, the 2nd XI have their first home fixture of the season when they take on Ripley at the ACG.

Unfortunately, Arthington 1st XI’s match against South Kilvington did not take place, owing to the opposition conceding. The 20 points gained means that the 1st XI still have maximum points from their first four fixtures at the top of division three. Next week, they travel to Rainton.

Arthington CC thanks Dennis Nash for sponsoring the 2nd XI match ball this week and Ken Clayton for his excellent work with the pen as scorer in this week’s match as well as several others this season.

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