A soggy tale sees Arthington prevail as ball dominates bat

at Whixley

It is fair to say that recent weather has not been kind to cricket in the north of England, yet it was pleasing for many that despite being open all week the heavens were forced to close this weekend, to allow both Arthington sides to secure excellent victories.

The 1st XI travelled to Whixley for the first time since a memorable end of season encounter in 2019, which saw the visitors win to deny the division three champions, as they would become, a coveted unbeaten campaign. Conditions on the day varied from waterlogged in the car park and soggy by the practice nets to slightly damp on the outfield and despite the uncovered pitch at Whixley the game could take place. 20 wickets would then fall for only just over 200 runs in a day where the bowlers ran riot. After winning the toss, Whixley put Arthington in to bat to the surprise of nobody.

Arthington openers Sajid Hussain and Zain Muhammad squelched out to the middle and were immediately met by a spell of good bowling from Whixley, which brought about the dismissal of Hussain in only the third over via a good catch behind. Yet Muhammad and Naveed Andrabi seemed to make light of the damp conditions and batting looked relatively easy during their 71-run partnership for the second wicket. The pair taking it in turns to strike some lovely boundaries though, due to the dampness of the outfield and the longer grass, they found themselves running more twos than they would have otherwise liked; even sweetly timed shots coming up short of the boundary line if the ball spent any more than the briefest of moments in contact with the turf.

The view from the dressing room during Arthington’s unfortunate batting collapse

Muhammad was first to fall as he finally mistimed a shot skyward and was well caught at point for 37, including 5 fours. This brought Umar Farooq to the crease who was understandably bogged down to begin with yet provided crucial support for Andrabi, who made the majority of the runs in their excellent partnership of 48; Andrabi passing his fifty along the way with another boundary. Yet it would be foolish of anyone to assume that Arthington would make the second half of their batting innings straightforward, as they not so much stumbled but rather tumbled from 121-2 to 143-7 in the space of 11 overs; the wickets of Farooq followed by Andrabi in consecutive overs opening the floodgates and seeing the Arthington middle order washed away for single figure scores. Andrabi was able to steer his ship clear of the shallows that have doomed many of his fellow batsmen and backed up last week’s terrific hundred with another great score of 66, which featured 5 fours and 2 sixes; the only chance offered during the knock being the one that dismissed him at long-off.

After the fall of the captain, Kamrosh Khan charged down the wicket to try and relieve the pressure and was stumped, Rafiullah Khan was given out LBW and Andrew Dowson, who has batted well in recent weeks, was almost out twice as the bowler spilled a caught and bowled chance that should have been taken then promptly ran Dowson out as he attempted a single off the drop. Ahmer Sadiq (11) provided some resistance to at least reach double figures but eventually fell to leave numbers ten and eleven to almost bat out the remaining five overs; Rahul Khode the man unbeaten on 9 after Luke Seaborne gave the Whixley bowler his five-fer with two balls left in the innings. Arthington all out for 169.

Arthington’s lowest total of the season could have sent panic through the visitors’ ranks at the halfway stage, but runs had proven difficult to come by for them and the same conditions would challenge the Whixley batsmen in the chase. After a wayward first over, debutant Naveed Piran soon found his range and picked up a pair of wickets in his second via an LBW and a catch by wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson; Piran’s extra pace unsettling the Whixley batsmen and keeping Dowson on his toes.

After a brief lull in proceedings, Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi brought himself on to bowl to replace Piran and struck immediately, strangling the remaining Whixley opener down the leg-side resulting in another excellent catch by Dowson, diving low to his left. Whixley’s middle order then battened down the hatches as they accumulated 31 runs in 10 overs before another wicket fell, again to Andrabi; the Whixley wicketkeeper batsman was unfortunate to play the ball onto his own stumps.

While all the drama had been happening from the top end, Umar Farooq had been bowling tirelessly at the other. His first eight overs had only gone for ten runs and he had also created two chances for the ever-changing Arthington slip cordon; both of which were put down. Yet Umar’s persistence did eventually reap its reward and also began an even more spectacular batting collapse as Whixley went from 46-3 to 54 all out; the well-trodden groove created by the comings and goings of Whixley batsmen easily mistakable for a popular, countryside ramble.

First, the Whixley number four, beneficiary of the two dropped chances at slip, saw his luck run out at last as he also played on to his stumps after reaching 20. Two balls later and the slip cordon finally had something to cheer as Rahul Khode held on to an excellent, low catch to his right to give Farooq his second wicket. In his final over, Farooq rounded off an exceptional bowling display by taking his third wicket via a catch at short cover by Ahmer Sadiq; diving forward to intercept the ball before it hit the floor.

Andrabi then took his third wicket of the innings, again with the help of another sharp catch at short cover by Sadiq, who has clearly wiped the butter off his fingers before the innings was ended by Luke Seaborne who summed up how difficult batting was on the day by taking two wickets for one run in just nine balls via catches by Andrabi and Piran at mid-off and mid-on respectively to see Whixley all out for 54. What could have been a day remembered by Arthington for another low total with the bat will instead be thought of fondly for one of the most clinical displays of bowling that the team has ever produced; the opposition unable to reach even a third of the 1st XI’s now formidable score. Naveed Piran and Umar Farooq deserve special credit for their fantastic opening spells.

The victory sees Arthington move to third in the division two table, though with all the recent cancellations and abandonments it is still unclear who the best sides actually are. Next week the 1st XI play against Studley Royal at the ACG.

 

Fantastic Faiyaz is the man as the 2nd XI overturn Studley

Royal at the ACG

 

Arthington’s 2nd XI played host to Studley Royal and despite the recent weather, groundsman Jo Nash had still managed to prepare a classic batsman’s wicket. Not only had the surface been described pre-match as being ‘like concrete’ but the wicket was situated on the extreme far side of the Arthington square, meaning one square boundary was much closer than the other, which often produces some interesting results.

So confident were they in the quality of the wicket and their deep batting line-up, in fact, that stand-in Arthington captain Dave Howard elected to bat first upon winning the toss. Openers Jo Nash and Umer Khan (14) got the 2nd XI off to a good start and put on 40 for the first wicket before the latter fell and the score had reached 61 by the time Nash was bowled out for 34, having bludgeoned 3 fours and a glorious six over the fence.

In Alex O’Neil’s last match for the Arthington 2nd XI he scored 154 against Whixley, so much was expected of him, yet Arthington will have to wait a little longer for those fireworks as he was controversially given out LBW without scoring from the two balls that he faced. The returning Mark Wigglesworth will also hope to improve on his duck in future games, as the middle order proved ineffective.

Josh Rhodes looked solid in defence and attack during his innings of 18

Josh Rhodes provided some much-needed impetus to the innings, along with Vince Greaves-Newall who, with the eventual loss of his wicket for a determined 37 that included 6 fours, finally has an average this season: a mere 192. Mohammed Faiyazuddin then boosted the Arthington total past respectability and towards competitive with a quickfire 29, helping himself to 2 fours and a pair of sixes along the way. 151 for 8 after the 40 overs.

The colourful Vince Greaves-Newall was finally dismissed in his fourth innings of the season

As opening bowling partnerships go, there cannot be many more impressive than Joe Seaborne and Martin Hings in division seven this season as, once again, they almost made certain of victory by themselves. Though Hings was unable to make inroads himself on this occasion, his incessant approach and gnawing accuracy meant he conceded only 13 runs from his 10 overs, which proved invaluable for Seaborne who picked up three of Studley Royal’s top order wickets; two bowled and one of five LBWs that would be awarded in the innings.

Mohammed Faiyazuddin’s late surge of 29 runs helped Arthington to a competitive score

Three more were awarded to Vince Greaves-Newall, who was able to cash in having replaced Hings, as the Studley Royal batsmen used everything at their disposal to prevent the ball hitting the stumps. The rest of the wickets fell to the bowling of Mohammed Faiyazuddin who claimed four scalps from only four overs, including two of the set Studley Royal batsmen; the most significant being the remaining opener, who had played a fine innings of 38, only to be given out LBW by the umpire who was also his Dad, in a lovely father-son bonding moment. Faiyazuddin also benefitted from the seemingly prophetic field placements of Martin Hings, as the only two catches were taken by Joe Seaborne at deep square leg and short-extra cover; the ball coming off the bat and frequently going straight to a deliberately placed Arthington fielder as the innings progressed. Indeed, had Hings opted to place a man in Arthington’s village hall car park, there is little doubt the ball would have made its way up Arthington Lane straight to them.

Despite a promising start to their chase, Studley Royal fell from 114-3 to 123 all out; Greaves-Newall taking the final wicket to fall with two overs still to be bowled. The result moves the 2nd XI to the top of the division seven table after five games.

Next week they travel to Walton Park in a repeat of last season’s play-off final.

Arthington Cricket Club offers its thanks to the scorers of this week’s games: Lauren Marshall and Ken Clayton.

Thank you also to the match ball sponsors of this week’s round of fixtures for their support and generosity:

1st XI match ball sponsor: Naveed Andrabi

2nd XI match ball sponsor: Colin Seaborne

The ACG was bathed in sunshine after the 2nd XI’s victory over Studley Royal