Bowlers repair the damage after dismal batting display

Arthington’s batsmen had their bowlers to thank for digging them out of a sizeable hole in the 1st XI’s latest victory over North Stainley. Having worked hard during the week on improving the woeful fielding performance of the previous weekend, it was disappointing for a different element of the team’s game to come up so short, but a whirlwind display of fast bowling from the club’s leading wicket taker spared Arthington’s blushes.

The stage was set, Arthington’s groundsman had prepared a great wicket and their captain, Naveed Andrabi, won the toss and opted to bat first. After six overs, things were looking comfortable. Sajid Hussain and Umar Farooq had got Arthington off to a decent start, with Hussain, especially, looking in the mood having already struck three boundaries. However, his early hard work was undone when he tried to glance a ball to the leg-side only to see it loop straight back towards the bowler off a leading edge for a simple catch.

Last week’s match winning centurion, Andrabi, was the next to fall, fishing outside the line of off-stump and feathering an edge behind to the North Stainley wicketkeeper for the first of his five dismissals on the day. Three balls later and the destruction of Arthington’s top order was complete; Farooq chased a ball he could have left alone and tickled another thin edge into the keeper’s gloves.

Kamrosh Khan and Ayoub Ahmadzai seemed to have adapted well to conditions and the away side’s bowling, with the latter bludgeoning 2 fours and 2 sixes in his short cameo before becoming the wicketkeeper’s third victim in the North Stainley opening bowler’s final over. Khan also combined well with Andrew Dowson and their 29-run partnership threatened signs of a recovery until two overs of madness and a trio of Arthington wickets plunged the innings into chaos.

Andrew Dowson was the first of the three to fall when he attempted to play a leg-side shot to a slower ball on the stumps and missed. A confident Naveed Piran was the next fleeting visitor to the crease but was undone by an almost identical delivery, only this time the ball hit leg-stump rather than middle. Ahmer Sadiq survived the hat-trick ball but could only spectate from the non-striker’s end as Kamrosh Khan, who had batted nicely up to this point, top-edged a pull shot and was easily caught for the second caught and bowled of the game. His 24-run innings included 5 fours.

From a reasonable position of 86/4, with two relatively set batsmen at the crease and with plenty of overs left in the innings, Arthington suddenly found themselves reeling at 86/7, following the self-destruction of their middle order. Yet the entire Arthington line-up have proven to be capable with the bat in the past and not all hope had been lost.

In fact, Sadiq and Rahul Khode’s 38-run partnership for the eighth wicket was the highest of the match. The pair looked comfortable at the crease, had begun running well between the wickets and when the bad ball came along it was being sent to the boundary more often than not. Khode had just threaded a superb cover drive between two off-side fielders for his second boundary but was unprepared for the next delivery: a slower ball gone wrong that was dragged down short and wide of the Arthington number nine.

Instead of flaying the ball over the in-field for the second of consecutive fours, Khode was flummoxed by the lack of pace and succeeded only in serving up a simple catch for the away side’s cover fielder. A terrible way to lose one’s wicket and the Arthington batsman’s look of disbelief and regret told its own story.

Having been given strict instructions not to do anything unnecessary and to bat out as many of the remaining overs, Akash Hazra played an unnecessary shot from only the third ball of his innings and was caught behind, wafting at a short and wide ball well outside of his off-stump, which brought Arthington’s number eleven, Luke Seaborne, to the crease in only the 26th over.

Surprisingly, it was not his wicket that fell but that of Sadiq. Having just glanced a ball off his pads for his fourth boundary, his attempt to fend off a short ball only found the outside edge of the bat and the catch was easily taken by the wicketkeeper to end Arthington’s innings at 135 all out with 17.3 overs still to be bowled: their worst batting performance of the season.

However, there was still something to cheer at the break, as Alison Dowson had provided some terrific teas, including the usual excellent range of sandwiches, some delightful mini samosas and bhajis and not one but two enormous cakes.

With a small total to defend, Arthington knew that their bowling and fielding display would have to be near-perfect and that, in order to win the game, they would likely need to take all ten North Stainley wickets, as the asking rate of three runs per over for victory was not a daunting one for the opposition.

Naveed Piran was fired up, looking to make amends for his golden duck and, after a tight first over, proceeded to take wickets in his next four to bring the home side straight back into the game. After having a very convincing LBW appeal turned down in his first over, there was no hesitation from the umpire who gave the North Stainley the dreaded finger to ease the door ajar. Piran then kicked it wide open by blowing away the rest of the away side’s top order and giving the stumps a bit of a hammering as well, as they were rocked back on all three occasions.

At the other end, Umar Farooq seemed slightly off-colour and his usual economical line and length had abandoned him, as he was dispatched for 32 runs from his first four-over spell. He was, however, unlucky not to take a wicket when an edge from the remaining North Stainley opener went through to wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson but was not spotted by the umpire. Therefore, despite the loss of four early wickets, the visitors were well ahead of the required run-rate and still had many overs and wickets remaining.

Naveed Andrabi replaced Farooq and took over the wicket-taking baton, finally dismissing the North Stainley opener with a length ball that pierced his defences and clipped the top of the bails. Credit for this wicket must also go to Andrew Dowson for standing up to the stumps to Arthington’s captain, forcing the batsman back in his crease where he was less comfortable. Andrabi struck again in the following over when the visitor’s number seven batsman, clearly in for a good time but not a long time, ballooned a ball skyward. Ahmer Sadiq was underneath it and held on to a good catch to ensure a 100% catch success rate for this match after the previous week’s fielding fiasco.

There were still a few contributions to come from the away side, though a victory seemed less and less likely as the wickets fell. Umar Farooq’s second spell was only supposed to last one over to allow Andrabi to switch ends, but he ended up taking his first wicket of the match during a wicket-maiden to ensure he was able to bowl until the game’s conclusion.

As one Naveed replaced the other, Piran returning for his second spell at a different end, there was little left of the North Stainley resistance and it took only nine balls from Arthington’s leading wicket-taker to take the remaining three wickets, all bowled, to leave the stumps well and truly bruised and the visitors beaten by 42 runs in an alarmingly low-scoring encounter.

Some stern but necessary words were said after the game to address Arthington’s poor batting performance: their worst display with the bat for some time. It is certainly not the first time, even this season, where the middle and lower order have misfired on the rare occasion that any of the league leader’s top three have failed to score big runs. The 17-point victory sees them retain their position at the top of the division two table with the chasing pack only gaining a small amount of ground. The five-horse race has realistically been whittled down to three in the battle for the top two spots in the season’s latter stages.

Next week, the 1st XI hope to right their wrongs as they travel to Thornton Watlass, aiming to match the 335 runs they scored in the reverse fixture at the start of the 2021 campaign.

Thank you, Ken Clayton, once again, for offering to score the match and for your very honest assessment of how it went, shortly afterwards. The club is very fortunate to have you.

 

Superb century powers Arthington to victory over Thirsk

Arthington’s 2nd XI travelled to South Kilvington’s ground to take on a Thirsk side sitting in the lower half of the division seven table. Arthington’s captain Martin Dickinson lost the toss and the visitors were put in to bat.

The usually reliable opening partnership of Jo Nash and Umer Khan was broken early on by a controversial run-out. There was no doubt that Nash had not made his ground but, it was argued, he was only unable to do so by avoiding a collision with a Thirsk fielder, who had wandered into the path of the former Arthington skipper. After much deliberation, including the interjection of the Arthington captain, a disappointed Nash was forced to depart.

Both Umer Khan and Vince Greaves-Newall struggled to find any timing on an apparent difficult surface and soaked up dot balls and the run-rate was only a shade over two runs per over when Khan’s wicket fell, finally freeing his arms at a ball that would have been given as wide, only for his shot to reach a fielder just forward of point.

Malcolm Barraclough also found it hard going and by the end of the 21st over the score had meandered its way to only 43/2. Six overs and 14 runs later, Barraclough was forced to retire, having picked up an injury. The very next ball, the first of the 28th over, saw Greaves-Newall lose his wicket. Having battled hard to reach 23 from 71 balls he was given out LBW, intercepting with his pads a ball that was destined for the middle of middle-stump. With the score effectively 57/4, a change in momentum was required.

Enter Alex O’Neil to give the Arthington innings the boost it so desperately needed. Where others had struggled with the pitch and the Thirsk bowling, O’Neil thrived, needing just four deliveries to strike his first six and dispatching nearly every other ball to the boundary from then on. Martin Dickinson also played a role in stemming the flow of wickets and giving the strike back to O’Neil where possible, allowing him to sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

It took just 23 balls for O’Neil to bring up his fifty, doing so with a single from the final ball of the 36th over and striking 5 sixes and 2 fours in the process, yet he was far from finished. One ball earlier, Dickinson had holed out to a Thirsk fielder, which brought Josh Rhodes to the crease, who played out the majority of the 37th over before O’Neil took charge.

During the next three overs, the final three of the innings, there was carnage. O’Neil deposited a further 7 sixes and 2 fours over various parts of the boundary and raced to an amazing century, striking a maximum over the bowler’s head from the final ball of the innings to finish on 102 not out. During the 39-ball knock he favoured deep mid-wicket and shots straight down the ground but was also not opposed to more subtle bludgeoning behind square on the leg-side. The century is his third for Arthington, and his fastest, beating his previous best strike rate of 250.00 and comfortably beating his previous best score of the 2021 season of 11.

The injection of quick runs into the Arthington innings meant that they finished on 185/4 from their 40 overs, a total which had seemed far out of reach at the halfway stage and the Arthington bowling attack were confident of being able to defend the total.

It took less than three overs for Joe Seaborne to make the first breakthrough in the Thirsk reply, when a ball looped up kindly to Malcolm Barraclough at slip to take an easy catch but Thirsk reached the 10-over mark otherwise unscathed and, crucially, level with the required run-rate. In the eleventh over, the big-hitting Thirsk opener, whose 32 came from over a run-a-ball, went for one shot too many and struck the ball hard towards Alex O’Neil at mid-wicket who took a good catch.

While Martin Hings went unrewarded for his economical spell of ten overs, Vince Greaves-Newall picked up where he left off last weekend. After rudely being hit for two boundaries in his first over, he got revenge in his second, breaking into the Thirsk middle order with an LBW and a bowled. After more tight overs from the pair, Greaves-Newall picked up another two wickets in the 21st over, dashing any remaining hopes of a Thirsk victory in the process. The first of the two was noteworthy mainly for the number of attempts it took Alex O’Neil, fielding at short leg, to actually catch the ball before it finally rested safely in his hands. The second, Greaves-Newall’s fourth, was much less dramatic: clean bowled.

65/6 soon became 65/7 as Greaves-Newall bowled out another Thirsk batsman to claim his second five-fer in as many weeks. In the latter stages the score trickled slowly towards three figures, before Umer Khan intervened, first by breaking a lower-order partnership with a good run-out before coming on to bowl and finishing off the home side’s innings in consecutive balls, hitting the stumps on both occasions, to leave Thirsk all out for 99 in the 34th over, still 86 runs short of Arthington.

The win leaves Arthington sitting even prettier at the top of division seven, 34 points and 2.3 average points ahead of their nearest rivals with just five matches remaining in the season. Next week they host bottom side Ouseburn 3rd XI at the ACG.

The club would like to thank this week’s match ball sponsors for their support and generosity.

1st XI match ball sponsor: Mohammad Sadiq Baqal

2nd XI match ball sponsor: Kevin Braithwaite

I would like to dedicate this week’s match report to the memory of my Grandad, Colin Seaborne, who sadly passed away on the morning before this Saturday’s two matches. He was an avid follower of Arthington Cricket Club ever since I and later my younger brother joined and was always one of the first to read the weekly match report. He also made several generous financial contributions to the club, which have gone towards improvements of the ground and its facilities. A keen cricketer himself in his younger years, he reached 92 before being dismissed. A good innings by any standards.