Arthington move to the summit as bowlers take charge
Arthington 1st XI were in a jovial mood after their latest league fixture, which, with another convincing victory, saw them move to the top of the division two table as the season nears the halfway stage. It’s hardly a secret that Arthington enjoy batting first and so, on this rare occasion when the opposition won the toss and asked Arthington to bowl, it was comforting to know that they can still perform well in reverse.
Naveed Piran and Umar Farooq have proven a stern test for opposing teams in recent weeks and so it proved again and while Piran struggled with his line in his early 3-over spell, Farooq was straight on the money in his, beginning with two consecutive wicket-maidens. The first wicket came via a simple catch behind by wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson off a thin outside edge and the second by means of an assault on the stumps, Dacre Banks quickly finding themselves 3/2 in the early stages. Farooq finished his only spell of the game after four overs with very respectable figures of 4-3-1-2.
Short spells from the bowlers was the order of the day as Arthington ended up using eight different bowling options in the hot conditions. Both Rafiullah Khan and Luke Seaborne kept things tight in their respective five over spells, despite not troubling the wickets column. It was not until the 21st over with the score on 48 that another wicket fell to a terrific catch at second slip by Rahul Khode off the bowling of Akash Hazra, the stubborn Dacre Banks opener finally removed from his position at the crease after over an hour.
Khode then made a further breakthrough with his bowling with the help of a catch by Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi who, bringing himself on to bowl shortly after, made the key breakthrough in bowling out the Dacre Banks left-hander, batting at number four, who had accumulated an excellent 56. It still seemed an uphill task for Arthington to bowl out their opponents from this position, but Naveed Piran, returning for his second spell, and Rahul Khode had other ideas.
Piran took his first and second wickets of the match in consecutive balls, the first following a superb piece of wicketkeeping by Andrew Dowson, who moved sharply and low to his right after initially heading to the leg-side, to take a great catch. No such assistance was required for the second wicket, however, as the stumps were splayed in different directions. Their contact with the bails: a mere memory.
Having started the game with only ten players, Arthington had since loaned Dacre Banks one of their second team all-rounders, Wasim Malik, fresh from being dismissed two runs shy of a double century the previous week. It was beginning to look like their generosity had backfired, until Malik, who was expertly negotiating a hostile second spell from Piran at one end and had reached 42, including a couple of lusty blows for six, finally succumbed to a trap set by Rahul Khode. His high and powerful shot to the leg-side did not quite have the required distance to clear the boundary and was instead well caught by Umar Farooq at deep mid-wicket.
Piran disturbed the timbers once more to leave the opposition nine wickets down but the best of the drama was saved until the very last over: Arthington desperate for the final wicket, which would see them claim maximum bowling points. With his third ball of the over, Khode induced an aggressive shot from the Dacre Banks tailender, who succeeded only in sending the ball skywards via the top edge of his bat. Any number of the encircling Arthington fielders could have reached the ball, but Rafiullah Khan was directly under it and reached up to take the inevitable, easy catch. Only he didn’t. Instead, no sooner had the ball entered his hands it popped out again and landed harmlessly on the square.
Thankfully, Arthington’s frustration was short-lived, as Khode ended the innings with a quicker and flatter delivery two balls later, which clattered into middle stump. Dacre Banks all out for 152; maximum bowling points had been achieved with only a ball to spare.
In the absence of regular Arthington opener Zain Muhammad, Sajid Hussain was joined by Naveed Andrabi, despite his two centuries and two half centuries in his past four games batting at number three. The pair started the innings well, scoring at more than five runs per over with four boundaries apiece, but both lost their wickets in identical fashion and in quick succession: edging to the wicketkeeper after playing at wide deliveries they should perhaps have left alone.
The sudden loss of two wickets brought two new batsmen to the crease, both eager for runs. Umar Farooq and Rafiullah Khan then expertly batted their way to the 153-run target in an unbeaten stand of 116 and both preferred to deal in boundaries. Farooq struck 4 fours and 4 sixes in his 52*, including a huge, flat maximum high over deep cover into the nearby garden. Khan mainly targeted the straight boundaries and became particularly fond of loanee Wasim Malik’s bowling as he raced his way to 61 not out, ending the innings with a mighty blow over the bowler’s head for his fifth six, having already hit 5 fours; Arthington reached 153/2 and the win after only 20 overs in their reply.
The 20-point victory moves the 1st XI to the top of the table, as their two main rivals lost points playing each other. However, there is a chance that this changes before their next game in two weeks’ time, due to a bye week and no fixture.
As always, Arthington Cricket Club thanks Malcolm Barraclough for scoring the match and Alison Dowson for some delicious teas, which have been greatly missed during the past season and a half.
Finally, a word to the match ball sponsor for the 1st XI fixture: Harehills Councillors. The club is grateful for their support and generosity.
The 2nd XI did not have a fixture this weekend due to a concession.
Due to this and the 1st XI’s ‘bye’ on June 19th, the following is a full report of the 2nd XI’s top of the table clash against Darley on June 19th, which this reporter was able to attend in person.
Darley take 2nd XI close but opening brilliance sees
Arthington’s 2nd XI were able to continue their unbeaten run this season, but third place Darley proved a sterner test than most as they made the top of the table clash a close, well-fought contest.
Arthington skipper Dave Howard admitted he would have preferred to bat first on the day, but the away side found themselves in the field for the first half following a loss at the toss. The Darley opening batsmen quickly showed why their side has the joint most batting points this season as they repelled the usually deadly opening spells of Joe Seaborne and Martin Hings. Runs came at a steady but by no means alarming rate and once certain gaps in the field had been plugged, such as a very profitable scoring area at third man, the Arthington bowlers regained a sense of control, despite not making an early breakthrough.
Joe Seaborne failed to take a wicket for the first time this season during his ten overs
In fact, it was not until nearly halfway through the innings that a wicket fell, in the final over of another economical spell by Hings, as the Darley batsman missed a straight ball and found himself bowled. Vince Greaves-Newall and Ahmer Sadiq were the change bowlers and both did their best to restrict the Darley middle order as they attempted to increase the run-rate. An intriguing period of play followed as the game swung one way then the other with high-scoring overs being somewhat blunted by tighter ones and every promising Darley partnership broken at key times by wickets.
Sadiq was the bowler that cashed in, taking all three of the remaining wickets to fall: twice hitting the stumps and once assisted by a catch by wicketkeeper Dave Howard. The fielding display was punctuated by several errors leading to boundaries and loose fielding allowing singles to be taken but there were also moments of brilliance from the likes of Greaves-Newall, Trevor Lobley and Dougie Jones, who all looked assured when the ball came their way. Jones was even thrown into the deep end with the ball as he was required to bowl the penultimate over of the innings but kept things tight, conceding only one boundary via a fortunate slash down to third man. Once the dust had settled at the end of the first innings, the score had reached 209/4, leaving Arthington a target of 210 for victory at 5.25 runs per over.
Jo Nash and Umer Khan were again tasked with opening the innings and they got off to a steady start, both striking early boundaries on the fast outfield; the downhill slope on one side of the ground was particularly keen to turn ones and twos into boundaries. The first wicket to fall was that of Nash, having reached 16, who played what appeared to be a decent shot towards mid-wicket but the Darley fielder took a fine diving catch to make the first breakthrough at 37/1.
Umer Khan faces up to a delivery from the Darley opening bowler on his way to an unbeaten 82
Great things were expected of Wasim Malik after recent explosive performances with the bat and his innings seemed to be going in the right direction when he swatted a head-high no-ball for six to the leg-side. However, only a few balls later he was trudging back to the changing rooms after he flashed at a ball outside off-stump and sent the ball skyward. At first the ball appeared to be landing safely on the ground, but once again Darley impressed in the field and a fielder scampered from his position at point to cover to take a good, running catch.
To the crease strode Ahmer Sadiq who was keen to prove to the 1st XI why he deserves his place in their side. On this occasion, Arthington were as grateful for his experience as they were for his batting ability, as he and the still unbeaten Khan combined for a 99-run partnership to tilt the game back in the away side’s favour. Part way through his knock, Sadiq had been disappointed to only pick up a single from a full-toss that should have cleared the ropes and decided to change his bat. The very first ball faced with the new blade sailed into the adjacent field for a maximum. Sadiq also hit 5 fours before he was bowled, just one run short of what would have been an excellent fifty, the score on 153/3.
At the other end, Khan had survived a huge scare when he played a full-toss straight back at the bowler but was fortunate to see the chance go begging. Apart from that brief wobble, his innings had progressed serenely, with seemingly no part of the ground being safe. He picked up boundaries at deep square leg, through the covers, over mid-on and even struck a lusty blow over deep mid-wicket for a six. There was also a mixture of excellent and questionable running between the wickets during his partnership with Sadiq to keep the score ticking.
However, his best shot was without doubt a back-foot punch straight over the bowler’s head that cleared the sightscreen by a distance for a monstrous six; both teams were equally impressed with the strike. Where the young Arthington prodigy got the power to play such a shot when he still feels the need to wear a long-sleeved under layer and a sleeveless jumper on a warm, sunny day in North Yorkshire, we may never know.
Khan, who had since raced past his fifty, was joined at the crease by Vince Greaves-Newall, whose average of 195 before the start of play was the third best in the league. The pair needed to score at six an over at the beginning of their partnership to secure another Arthington victory, but after a few profitable overs their task became a lot simpler. Greaves-Newall clubbed 5 fours on his way to an unbeaten 30, while the star performer in Khan carried his bat to finish on 82 not out, including 9 fours and the two brilliant sixes. The game finished in somewhat of an anti-climax in the 38th over. The Darley bowler began with a wide to bring the scores level then repeated the feat two balls later to hand Arthington their seventh win of the season, extending their unbeaten run.
Umer Khan (right), Vince Greaves-Newall (left) and Ahmer Sadiq (Popeye) scored most of Arthington’s runs in the successful chase
This was a terrific victory for Arthington against a difficult opponent. It proves that they are able to compete with teams at both ends of the table. The win strengthens their position at the top of the pile, though amusingly, due to only collecting 17 points from this match, their average points per game, with which league positions are determined this season, actually went down slightly.
Next week the 2nd XI must not allow their standards to slip as they face another away trip, this time to Upper Wharfedale, with whom the club has created quite a rivalry in recent seasons.
Arthington Cricket Club wishes to thank the scorer Ken Clayton once again for his contribution.
The club is also grateful to the match ball sponsor this week, Josh Rhodes, for his generosity.