Arthington rampant in opening day run-fest

Arthington’s two sides looked in fine form on the opening day of the 2021 season, as both recorded excellent victories at the start of the latest campaign. Playing in division two for the first time, the 1st XI took on Thornton Watlass at the ACG. Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi lost the toss and was put in to bat by the opposition.

A new look opening partnership of Sajid Hussain and Umar Farooq took guard on a wicket lovingly prepared by new groundsman Jo Nash and they began in assured fashion as they played themselves in. Before long, both were finding the boundary with a range of strokes. Both openers executed textbook drives through the covers and whilst Hussain profited heavily off his legs and sent several nice looking shots through mid wicket to the fence, Farooq took a more aggressive approach, clubbing short deliveries back over the bowler’s head for six on a number of occasions. Yet at drinks and the 24-over mark, it was Hussain who achieved his half century first, reaching 62*, with Farooq on 45*; the score at 126-0.

Sajid Hussain and Umar Farooq at the start of their 241-run opening partnership; a club record.

Farooq took over the scoring baton after the break and soon caught up with Hussain. His approach was not without risk though and he was grateful to see a difficult catch floored by a Thornton Watlass fielder as he neared his century. Hussain also survived a scare when an edge through to the wicketkeeper was put down. The scoring rate had increased substantially after the drinks break, with nearly half of the overs in the latter stages going for double figures. Farooq brought up his first century for Arthington with a push for two through the covers, an achievement that was appreciated by the small group of spectators that had come to watch proceedings. A couple of overs later, Hussain matched the feat off a no ball, expertly steered down to third man for a single. His second Arthington century included 18 fours. Unfortunately, having amassed 241 runs in a club record opening partnership, both openers fell in quick succession. Hussain failed to add to his score after reaching his landmark and was caught at point. Farooq was also caught from the very first delivery of Thornton Watlass’ 7th bowling option, falling for a fantastic 119, which included 14 fours and 6 sixes.

After Alex O’Neil had been caught and bowled to give the same bowler a very impactful first over, Naveed Andrabi and Kamrosh Khan combined well in a 69-run stand for the fourth wicket. Khan (21) favoured the leg side and used his feet well to get to the pitch of the ball and swat several boundaries through cow corner. The partnership was ended when Khan called Andrabi through for a risky single; the captain unable to make his ground and departing for a quickfire 47, including a four and 5 sixes, several of which found their way into the grounds of the nearby house, beyond the deep mid-wicket boundary.

If bat had dominated the first 40 overs, it was the ball that won the final five, as Arthington moved from 307-3 to 335 all out. Of the remaining batsmen, only debutant Rahul Khode (13) reached double figures. There was even time for number eleven Luke Seaborne to be bowled out first ball from the final ball of the innings.

Thornton Watlass got off to a shaky start in their reply, losing a wicket in only the second over as Rafiullah Khan unseated the bails. Three overs later and another batsman departed, this time from the bowling of Luke Seaborne, as Rahul Khode held on to a catch at backward point at the second attempt. It could have been worse for the visitors, had Kamrosh Khan held on to a chance at slip, again off the bowling of Seaborne. Thankfully, he was able to make up for the drop, by holding on to a catch to dismiss the same batsman, giving off-spinner Rahul Khode his first wicket for Arthington, in his very first over.

When Luke Seaborne took a catch at deep cover for Naveed Andrabi’s first wicket of the match, the score was 98-4 and it seemed that Arthington were well on top, despite the runs flowing fairly quickly. However, the home side’s mettle was still to be tested by a 5th wicket stand of 94 between the Thornton Watlass number four and their captain at number six, who went on to make 66 and 67 runs respectively. The pair picked up on anything pitched up and sent several sixes into the fields behind both straight boundaries. Arthington’s captain tried several bowling changes, but it was Akash Hazra who finally made the breakthrough in his second over, assisted by an exceptional one-handed catch by wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson, who contorted himself, in order to change the direction of his body to make the crucial grab low to his right.

Hazra struck again in his fourth over, following a maiden in his third, to effectively end the Thornton Watlass resistance. The new batsman had not been able to match the run rate of the innings to that point, giving the captain the responsibility of seeing his side over the line. Hazra had other ideas and took the second of his four wickets in the innings with a pacey delivery that clipped the top of leg-stump. Arthington were glad to see the back of the opposition captain, who had batted exceptionally well and given them a real scare.

With the opposition now six wickets down and still over 130 runs short of their target, Luke Seaborne returned for his second spell. Together with the match-winner Hazra, they shared the remaining four wickets, all of which were bowled, to leave Thornton Watlass all out; 87 runs short in the 38th over.

A fantastic start to the season for the 1st XI, with the highlights being two wonderful centuries from Sajid Hussain and Akash Hazra, in a record opening partnership for Arthington, as well as a great spell of bowling from Akash Hazra, taking the two crucial middle order wickets and preventing what could have been a nervy finish. Next week, the 1st XI travel to Bolton Abbey, with whom they are very familiar, having played them in division three in the past two seasons.

Arthington 1st XI, sporting their new kit, before their victory over Thornton Watlass 1st XI.



The 2nd XI continue their winning ways

Following their unbeaten season last year, the 2nd XI extended their winning run with an emphatic away victory over newcomers Knaresborough Forest 3rd XI. Having won the toss, captain Martin Dickinson elected to bowl first, a decision that immediately bore fruit as Martin Hings took two wickets in his very first over. Not to be outdone, fellow opening bowler Joe Seaborne started the 2021 season as he had ended the last with three wickets in his opening spell, including a stunning diving catch by the agile Umer Khan at gully. Though Khan was unable to take a wicket with the ball, he still managed a terrific run-out; throwing the ball in from the boundary on the full right over the stumps into the waiting hands of Vince Greaves-Newall at the stumps.

Mohammed Faiyazuddin and Martin Dickinson both chipped in with a wicket, the latter again assisted by a superb catch by Umer Khan, back-pedalling at square leg to grab the ball behind his head to round off an incredible display in the field. Vince Greaves-Newall tidied up the tail with a brace of wickets to set the 2nd XI a target of 98 to win.

Arthington reached their target in the 21st over, without losing a wicket. Martin Dickinson (11*) played the anchor role, allowing Vince Greaves-Newall to be the aggressor at the other end, reaching an impressive 56* by the end of the chase, including 9 fours and a six.

A great start to the season for the 2nd XI, wrapping up a 20-point victory in quick time. Next week they face Whixley 2nd XI at the ACG.

Thank you to Malcolm Barraclough and Ken Clayton for scoring the 1st and 2nd team games and also to Jo Nash and Gareth Meredith, who have tirelessly prepared what looks to be a fabulous pitch at the ACG during the off-season. All Arthington club members are grateful for your time and effort.

A special mention also to this week’s match ball sponsors for both teams: Harehills and Gipton Councillors, Salam Arif, Arif Hussain and Kamila Maqsood. Arthington Cricket Club thanks you for your support and generosity.