Arthington’s old guard ease their way to victory at the ACG

After the disappointment of the third rain-affected match of the season the previous week, Arthington’s 1st XI returned to action in clinical fashion as they comfortably saw off the latest challenge of Bishop Thornton at the ACG. The match was significant as it marked the halfway point of the league season with the weekend’s opposition being the first team that the 1st XI have played twice.

With defeat from the first encounter possibly still fresh in their minds, Bishop Thornton’s captain elected to bat first, having won the toss, in a change from the previous fixture, which saw Arthington win by 161 runs.

Arthington’s bowlers got off to a fast start when Umar Farooq dismissed the opposition opening batsman in his very first over, caught behind by wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson. Three overs later and another wicket fell, this time to Naveed Piran, whose cunning repositioning of the only leg-side fielder, Zain Muhammad, from mid-on to short mid-wicket brought immediate dividends for a simple catch.

In his next over, Piran struck again, this time assisted by Kamrosh Khan at point and by the end of the tenth over, Bishop Thornton found themselves five wickets down and in trouble with the score on just 44, as first Piran removed the remaining opener with a short ball that caught the outside edge and flew through to Dowson before Farooq took his second wicket thanks to a catch at cover by Rafiullah Khan.

However, hope was somewhat rekindled for the visitors in the form of a thrilling middle order partnership of 72 for the sixth wicket. The pair each bludgeoned several impressive boundaries and forced Arthington’s captain, Naveed Andrabi, into a change. On came Rahul Khode and Luke Seaborne, who both had an impact on proceedings. Having been hit for a six from the first ball of his second over, Khode used all his guile to tempt the batsman to play a similarly aggressive stroke. Eventually, he succumbed and succeeded only in picking out Zain Muhammad at long-off. Two balls later, Seaborne took his first wicket of the match: a strange dismissal, caught behind off an inside edge to give Dowson his third catch of the innings.

Khode went on to take two further scalps, both by virtue of hitting the stumps, eating into the tail and the Bishop Thornton number six batsman, finding himself running out of partners, sought quick runs. Naveed Piran returned for his second spell and it took him just one ball to finish off the innings as the batsman skied the ball to the left of long-off. Luke Seaborne made good ground running in from the boundary and took the catch once the ball had completed its orbit. Bishop Thornton bowled out for 141.

The Arthington reply got off to a shaky start when Umar Farooq edged to the wicketkeeper, but that was to be the end of the worries and indeed the wickets, as two of Arthington’s most experienced batsmen calmly saw the team home. Both Sajid Hussain and Naveed Andrabi started slowly in their partnership, treating the tight bowling with the respect it deserved and favouring boundaries for their scoring options when infrequent chances to put balls away did come along. In fact the tone of the captain’s innings was summed up nicely by the first full over that he faced: blocking or leaving five dot balls and clobbering the sixth for a six for his first scoring shot of the day.

Hussain also looked immovable at the crease and several of his on-drives to the long-on boundary were a joy to watch. The pair were neck and neck throughout the partnership but Andrabi reached his half-century first when he nudged his first two of the innings. Hussain matched the feat in the following over with a four, one of the 13 he struck in the contest and sealed the victory with another boundary shortly after to end the unbeaten 133-run partnership and the match. Arthington won by nine wickets in the 24th over.

With the convincing win, the 1st XI extend their lead at the top of division two following a defeat and a bye for their two nearest rivals. However, the gap is bound to close next week due to their second and final bye week this season. Regardless of other events though, with their current lead of 24 points, Arthington will be top of the table at the start of their next game in a fortnight’s time against Whixley at the ACG.

Arthington get rained on at Rainton but still sail away with a win

In contrast to the sunshine that arrived at the ACG, there was a more unpleasant forecast in store for the 2nd XI for their trip to the aptly named Rainton. Despite that, Arthington once more achieved an emphatic victory: dismissing the home side with relative ease before knocking off the runs in quickfire fashion.

Arthington captain Martin Dickinson lost the toss but may well have been secretly pleased to have the opportunity to bowl first given the looming, grey clouds. Arthington’s now formidable opening bowlers set to work and Joe Seaborne wasted no time taking his first wicket, bowling the Rainton opener before he had troubled the score.

Knocking the stumps over seemed to be a trend in the match as seven more wickets would fall to this mode of dismissal throughout the course of the first innings. Seaborne helped himself to two more including a perfect inswinger that hit the top of the off-stump as the batsman shouldered arms. Martin Hings also impressed, going for only ten runs from his five overs and removing the remaining opening batsman.

The change bowling of Dougie Jones and Trevor Lobley did not make things any easier for the hosts, the latter dismissing two of Rainton’s middle order batsmen and the former assisted for his brace first by wicketkeeper Dave Howard and then Martin Hings for the only two catches of the match. Vince Greaves-Newall swept in at the end to clean up the tail and leave Rainton all out for 85. An excellent bowling effort.

However, there were still a few jitters around, not necessarily regarding the chase but more the impending downpour. The heavens opened at the interval and again shortly after the resumption of play to put the result in some doubt. With this in mind, the usual opening batting pairing was disbanded with Vince Greaves-Newall joining Umer Khan for the reply.

Unusually, Khan fell cheaply with the score at 34, but some lusty blows from Greaves-Newall and number three Wasim Malik steered the Arthington ship comfortably into the harbour and sealed a convincing win. Greaves-Newall’s 28 included four boundaries and Malik accumulated a quickfire 46 including 7 fours and 2 sixes, one of which ended the contest in emphatic fashion; the ball sailing high and long over the boundary.

The 20-point win strengthens the 2nd XI’s already strong position at the top of division seven. Sadly, they find themselves without a game next weekend, due to the odd number of teams in the division, so will join the 1st XI in putting their feet up.

Special thanks, once again, to Shoaib Khan and Ken Clayton for scoring the 1st and 2nd team matches respectively. Everyone at the club is grateful for your time and effort.

Arthington Cricket Club also wishes to thank this week’s match ball sponsors for their support and generosity.

1st XI match ball sponsor: Colin Seaborne

2nd XI match ball sponsor: Les Fussey