Skipper takes five to secure second successive victory

Arthington’s 1st XI made it a second victory in as many weeks after an uncertain start to the season, to re-establish their position in the top half of the division one table. Their opponents, Harrogate, had also started the day on two wins and two losses. On a day that seemed likely to favour the bowlers, the away side won the toss and put Arthington in to bat.

Sajid Hussain and Umar Farooq began in similar fashion to their 115-run opening stand from the previous weekend, though on this occasion they could only reach 17 before Hussain served up an uncharacteristic chance to the mid-wicket fielder who took a straightforward catch. Naveed Andrabi then took on the role of early aggressor and struck 2 sixes and a four to reach 21, before an unusual dismissal saw him make his way back to the pavilion. A full toss that may well have been in no-ball territory was somehow edged to the Harrogate slip fielder.

Another controversial moment arrived at the fall of the third Arthington wicket when Umar Farooq was adjudged to have edged the ball behind to the wicketkeeper when it seemed clear that he had only made contact with the ground. The wicket brought Umer Khan to the crease to join Nathan Smith with the score at 66/3 at the end of the 14th over.

The partnership that followed was an important one and though it more than doubled the Arthington total, Khan contributed only six runs, with Smith cashing in at the other end. Arthington’s early front-runner in terms of scoring runs played an array of impressive strokes including some fine strikes down the ground and some more fortuitous thick edges through mid-wicket that also brought boundaries. When Khan was finally dismissed, bowled, few could have predicted the damage that would follow courtesy of Harrogate’s Dominic Bradburne; Khan was the first of his six wickets.

The score went from 133/3 to 137/7 as Bradburne helped himself to a pair of wickets in both his second and third overs. Naveed Piran and Kamrosh Khan both came and went without scoring, the former via a catch at point off a sliced shot and the latter by virtue of missing a straight ball and being bowled after playing an ill-advised cross-batted shot. In between these two middle order wickets, Smith also departed, again choosing a poor shot across the line against the already proven wicket-taking potential of Harrogate’s spinner. He made an excellent and crucial 73 runs including 10 fours and 3 sixes.

Some lower order runs were still needed but thankfully Rahul Khode, Alex O’Neil and Akash Hazra were all able to reach double figures and move the score along. O’Neil had seemingly forgotten about his last three ducks and struck two trademark sixes on his way to 19. He was then given out LBW for Bradburne’s fifth wicket, despite the ball striking the six foot eight batsman on the thigh. By all accounts, the ball would surely have gone over the stumps. Hazra struck a four and a six to make 12 before holing out to long-on.

The final over of the innings was unusual as it consisted of only one legal delivery yet somehow included seven runs and the final Arthington wicket. After striking a top-edge six from a no-ball Andrew Dowson succumbed to a straight ball that kept low and hit the stumps to bring a close to the Arthington innings on 196 all out. Khode finished unbeaten on 16.

Arthington were relatively happy with the total but, given the circumstances, may well be disappointed to not have scored more runs having lost four middle order wickets for four runs and also losing their final wicket with 29 balls remaining in the innings. The true test of the total would come in the Harrogate innings when the visitors attempted to chase it down.

The away side’s innings started in similar fashion and even included a very similar moment of controversy when the wicketkeeper and opening batsman was given out caught behind despite, once again, only hitting the ground with his bat. Several Arthington players, including the wicketkeeper, did not even appeal and yet the batsman had to go in unfortunate circumstances. Amusingly, it was Umar Farooq, victim of the original poor decision in the first innings that took the wicket.

He and Naveed Piran were unable to make any further inroads and it was the change bowling of Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi that made the second breakthrough via an LBW. The remaining opening batsman and Harrogate’s number four then combined well in a 56-run partnership that brought the visitors into serious contention. It was Andrabi, once again, with the second ball of his second spell, who brought about the crucial wicket with a clean bowled.

Harrogate were then largely the masters of their own downfall and suffered a middle order collapse very similar to that of Arthington. The score moved from a promising 94/2 to 110/7 in the space of six overs and gave the hosts the upper hand. Among the dismissals were two run outs. First, a superb piece of fielding from Nathan Smith at mid-on, whose stop and throw direct to Dowson behind the stumps left the batsman with no chance. This was then followed by another bit of suicidal running resulting in a run-out by Naveed Piran, who wisely chose the keeper’s end to throw at and again found the batsman short.

Andrabi then took his third wicket via a catch at mid-on by Nathan Smith who could not be kept out of the game before Umar Farooq took his second in the 34th over, his 11th, with a clean bowled. The away side were relieved, therefore, that their number eight and nine batsmen offered some resistance and took the score forward by 34 runs to 144, though the game seemed beyond them at this point with 53 runs still needed for victory and only five overs remaining.

The Arthington captain soon put the result beyond any doubt in his final over as he took two more wickets to complete another five-fer, assisted by a catch at long-on by Naveed Piran and another by Akash Hazra, making up for a terrible dropped catch earlier in proceedings, one of several opportunities to be put down during the Harrogate innings. Piran took the last of the wickets, his first, to end the away side’s reply in the 42nd over. 144 all out.

A 52-run victory for Arthington moves them fourth in the division one table, though all the sides above them have now lost at least one match as things tighten up at the top. The near 200-run target set by the hosts turned out to be a very good one and allowed the bowlers more than enough room to take all ten Harrogate wickets. Once again, the Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi was the pick of the bowlers with another five wickets. The middle order collapse, an apparent refusal to play spin with any respect and being bowled out with overs to spare will still be of concern to the skipper and are certainly areas for significant improvement.

Many thanks to Ken Clayton for scoring the match and to Alison Dowson for producing an incredible spread at tea. Those present described the famous coronation chicken sandwiches as ‘to die for’ and the cheese and pickle also received significant praise.

Next week, the 1st XI travel to West Tanfield who sit just behind them in the table having also managed three wins from five matches.


Arthington come through tricky test to continue unbeaten run

Arthington 2nd XI faced a trip to Ripley where they were hoping to build on an already impressive winning start to the season. Rain in the build up to the match had leaked through the covers and meant that the wicket was damp and spongey. Arthington captain Martin Hings lost the rather important toss and it was no surprise that the away side found themselves batting first, something they had not yet done this season.

Andrew Stoddart opened the batting with Mohammad Faiyazuddin and both found it hard going on the damp surface. The pair had to contend with deviations, uneven bounce and changes in pace and it did not come as a shock that the pitch played a big role in the first dismissal when a ball spat up off a length to flick the outside edge of Faiyazuddin’s bat for a catch behind.

Vince Greaves-Newall was the next man in and was fortunate not to give his wicket away immediately as he mistimed several leg-side shots skyward, where they landed safe. In fact, it was Stoddart who was next to fall, this time to a mix-up and resulting run-out. The two batsmen clearly disagreed on the possibility of a single when Stoddart glanced the ball to a short fine-leg. He set-off eagerly, undeterred by the loud call of ‘No’ from the other end. Halfway down the wicket, he realised too late that his batting partner had no intention of attempting the run and turned back, by which time the throw was already on course to the wicketkeeper’s gloves to remove the bails. Stoddart then took out his obvious frustration on the Ripley away dressing room.

Luke Seaborne scored the majority of the runs in a quick but brief 26-run partnership with Greaves-Newall. The pair had already taken 14-runs off one over, but with the final delivery Seaborne horribly mistimed a defensive push into the leg-side, playing the shot far too early for the ball to loop easily into the mid-on fielder’s grasp.

Martin Hings then combined nicely with the Arthington number three to put on 42 runs for the fourth wicket. Boundaries were few and far between on the day, but Hings did manage three on his way to 20 runs before he was given out LBW after missing a straight ball that would have barrelled into the stumps.

With several pinch hitters still to come, captain Hings opted to send Malcolm Barraclough in next. Both he and Greaves-Newall could never really accelerate the scoring and became bogged down by the returning opening bowlers, both of whom were impressive. However, few risks were taken to move the score along despite having six wickets in hand. The cautious approach culminated in a frustrating 39th over maiden. In the final over, Greaves-Newall passed fifty. His innings was a battling one and he did look more fluent than in previous weeks despite the conditions, however, he was fortunate to be dropped twice, at mid-wicket and long-on, before reaching his second half-century of the season.

With the final ball of the innings, he mistimed a full-blooded shot up in the air and was easily caught by the wicketkeeper moving in front of the stumps. Barraclough finished unbeaten on 20 and at the end of the innings, the visitors had posted 139/5.

It was perhaps unfair to judge this score before the opponents had batted, but the Arthington captain felt his side were 20 or 30 runs short of where they could have been. Having done well to keep wickets in hand for the latter stages, the valuable resource remained unused at the end. However, with a tried and tested bowling line-up, Ripley had their work cut out if they were to reach the target.

Brothers Joe and Luke Seaborne opened the bowling, the latter returning from an injury for his first overs of the season. His bowling would be best described as inconsistent and he did not take any wickets in his four-over spell, though also conceded few runs. His younger brother, however, is the star of the 2nd XI bowling roster and proved it again in an outstanding bowling display. It took some time and four consecutive maidens to finally make the first breakthrough with an LBW that was impossible not to give.

The sibling duo were then replaced by Martin Finn and Andrew Stoddart and the latter took a key wicket to remove the remaining Ripley opener, just as things were starting to look good for the hosts. Gareth Meredith’s catching can, at best, be described as unreliable, so it was a relief to all the Arthington fielders that he managed to hold onto a tricky, high catch at mid-on. At the other end, Finn finished his spell wicketless and was replaced by Vince Greaves-Newall.

The move proved to be a decisive one as the Arthington all-rounder struck with his second ball, an absolute beauty of an off-spin delivery that pitched on the off-stump and knocked back the leg, leaving the Ripley number three dumbfounded, having looked good up to that point. From a strong position at 57/2, this setback and another two wickets from Andrew Stoddart via a second plumb LBW and a good catch of a spinning ball by Martin Finn took the score to 66/5 and swung the balance strongly in Arthington’s favour.

There was a brief period of resistance in the form of a 21-run partnership for the sixth wicket before Greaves-Newall disturbed the bails again to complete a brace. At the other end, Stoddart’s excellent spell (10 – 2 – 27 – 3) came to an end. He was replaced by the returning Joe Seaborne who had a devastating impact by bowling a triple wicket maiden to effectively end the game as a contest. First, Gareth Meredith assisted with another, simpler catch at mid-on; the batsman was another victim of the slow surface. Two balls later, Martin Hings pouched a similar chance at mid-off and two balls after that, Seaborne had a second LBW decision go his way to complete an outstanding over.

No doubt the younger Seaborne brother had his eyes on a five-wicket haul, but Fahad Ahmad had other ideas. With his first three balls, the Arthington newcomer was clearly trying to extract everything out of the pitch with some short deliveries, two of which were hit to the rope. However, with his fourth ball and first full-length delivery, he was able to beat the defences of the Ripley number eleven to rock back the stumps and end the match.

Having come out second best at the toss, it was pleasing for Arthington to get a win batting first. The pitch had all manner of demons and 139 turned out to be a challenging total. Combined with a good fielding effort and some excellent bowling displays, it was too much for the home side and the visitors managed their fifth consecutive win of the season to remain in second place in the table.

Next week, Arthington 2nd XI host Burnt Yates at the ACG.