This season has not been lacking in high drama and tight finishes for Arthington Cricket Club and so it proved once again, as the 2nd XI lost their Peter Bentley Cup quarter final match to Whixley by the narrowest of margins, having overcome several hurdles to take the match to the final ball.

Stand-in captain Dave Howard won the toss and had no hesitation in putting Whixley in to bat. Bowling options were somewhat limited for Arthington, but the openers, Vince Greaves-Newall and Martin Hings did an excellent job in containing the runs and there were very few bad balls to put away. The pressure eventually told for one opener, who looped a catch up to Hings from the bowling of Greaves-Newall. A further two quickfire wickets in Trevor Lobley’s first spell put Whixley on the ropes. The first was a catch near the boundary by Luke Seaborne and the second, a simpler chance for Greaves-Newall. With one opening batsman still in the middle, he and the Whixley number five had a small, but important stand of 34 in the middle overs, but both fell in quick succession: a fine catch in the deep from Greaves-Newall’s bowling, before Martin Hings dismissed the opener, clean bowled, one run short of an impressive 50. With the score at 80-5, that was to be the end of the wickets and the final pair put on a further 41 runs in the remaining overs to reach a total of 121-5 and leave Arthington with a tricky chase of 122.

With the required run rate at just over 6 an over, the match was delicately poised at the halfway stage and so it would remain until the death. The opening pair of Jo Nash and Ayoub Khan batted sensibly and kept the runs ticking over at a healthy rate. Despite some questionable running between the wickets at times, the chase seemed under control, but the introduction of slower bowling proved to be the downfall of both opening batsmen, as they fell in the same over; Nash stumped for 20, trying to hit the ball down the ground and Khan, bowled, playing across the line to a full toss, for 24. However, their job had been done as two new batsmen prepared to continue the chase in the forms of Martin Dickinson and Vince Greaves-Newall.

The match was taken deep into the remaining overs by the pair, all the while keeping the required rate at or around one run a ball and they struck some nice boundaries in doing so; the highlight being a sumptuous cover drive for four by Greaves-Newall. But then disaster struck. Having seen off another over and looking in good touch, Greaves-Newall was forced to hobble from the field and retire his innings; 24 not out. This brought Martin Hings to the crease with the match in the balance. 19 runs were required from the final 3 overs. 6 an over would force a tie. But two overs and 10 runs later, lightning would strike twice, specifically to the hamstring of Hings, as he too retired hurt and left the field. The drama intensified as Luke Seaborne came to the non-striker’s end to observe the rest of the innings from a safe distance. The equation was simple: 6 balls and 9 runs to win with an abundance of wickets in hand. 8 for a tie. Agonisingly, with the field spread, Dickinson struck the first delivery straight back at the bowler for no run. The second was put away for 2, but the third stuck in the keeper’s gloves. 7 now required from 3. The next two deliveries both went for two runs, but Dickinson was struggling with the running and it seemed an unlikely option for him to be able to run 3 and win the game. The only hope was to strike a boundary, which had been noticeably lacking in the previous few overs. The field was changed for the last ball, as Whixley were going for the win and wanted to prevent two runs and the prospect of a tied game and boundary opportunities presented themselves. However, Dickinson, who finished the innings on a well-made 30 not out, failed to connect properly and only managed a single to mid-on, to leave the score at 120-2, one solitary run short of the opposition’s total.

Despite the disappointment of coming so close to victory and the injuries sustained by Greaves-Newall, Hings and Dickinson, it was later discovered, the two teams still played out a thoroughly entertaining and closely fought contest. Sadly, the injuries at key times to set batsmen were probably the main, unfortunate reasons for the loss, but the whole team bowled, fielded and batted well to make the contest as close as it ultimately was. Congratulations to Whixley, who move into the semi-finals and commiserations to Arthington 2nd XI who bow out of the cup for another year.

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