First century of the season eases Arthington up the table

Arthington’s 1st XI overcame bottom side Blubberhouses in their latest division one fixture at the ACG with relative ease thanks to a first century of the season for captain Naveed Andrabi and indeed the club, as well as another excellent bowling display.

A somewhat depleted Arthington won the toss and elected to bat first on a cold, overcast day that June could do without and, in the absence of their regular opening batsman, Umar Farooq was joined by skipper Andrabi to start the innings. The opening partnership was tentative, though without any real chances going the way of the visitors as the batsmen succeeded in blunting the early Blubberhouses attack.

It took the change bowling to make the first breakthrough, with the score on 66, as Umar Farooq was given out LBW for 22 yet it would be another 102 runs before the second wicket fell, as Andrabi and Rahul Khode combined nicely in the middle part of the innings. Khode was fortunate to not be caught out on two occasions, with one spurned catching opportunity at mid-wicket being particularly straightforward. Though the Arthington all-rounder did well to reach his 33, he also failed to take advantage of some indifferent bowling from the away side as several leg-side full tosses went unpunished.

At the other end, however, Andrabi was moving along serenely and approached his first century of the season with some delightful strokes through gaps in the off side and more powerful blows to the leg-side when the bowlers missed their line or length by even a fraction. He had entered the nineties as the 100-run partnership had been reached before an eventful 36th over altered the flow of the innings.

With the first ball Rahul Khode was finally caught having ballooned a shot into the air, attempting to replicate a six he had struck a few overs earlier. The batsmen crossed and Andrabi blasted consecutive shots to the boundary to reach 99 before nudging a single for the century, bringing up the milestone with an impressive 19 fours and a six. With the final ball of the over, Naveed Piran prodded a length ball into the on-side and was caught at mid-wicket for a golden duck.

In the very next over, Andrabi also fell, holing out to long-on attempting a six and succumbing to the only chance of his excellent knock. Despite their best efforts, it was difficult for Kamrosh Khan and Luke Seaborne to match the rate with which Andrabi had been scoring though they managed to at least rotate the strike almost every ball to keep the scoreboard ticking along. In an attempt to break the shackles in the 43rd over, Khan went after a full ball from the returning Blubberhouses opening bowler but could only hit it almost vertically. The ball hung in the air for an age before landing in the waiting wicketkeeper’s gloves.

In the following over, Seaborne did manage to connect for a well-struck six having been goaded by the wicketkeeper who suffered further embarrassment two balls later when a quicker ball from the away side’s leg-spinner missed everything and went for four byes. However, Seaborne’s attempt to strike another maximum fell short and into the hands of the fielder at cow corner. One ball later, Akash Hazra picked out the same fielder with the same shot and departed without scoring. There was even time for Malcolm Barraclough to be given out LBW in the final over and for Andrew Dowson to hit a boundary with the final ball to leave the home side on 216/8 after their 45 overs.

Though 20 or 30 runs short of where they would have liked to have been after their start to the innings, the home side were confident of defending the total with their bowling attack and Naveed Piran and Umar Farooq started well against the right-hand left-hand combination of the visitors. Piran, in particular, looked fired up and bowled several unplayable deliveries that passed the bat without taking the edge.

The fall of the first wicket never felt far away and it was Piran that got it with a ball that moved substantially to beat the batsman and clatter into the stumps. Yet that was the end of the wicket-taking from the opening bowlers, who were replaced by Akhil Adulla and Fahad Ahmad. Adulla managed a wicket in his third over, again bowled, ending another promising partnership to leave the score at 52/2 at the end of the 17th over. A chance to give Ahmad his first 1st XI wicket in his first over was inexplicably dropped by Kamrosh Khan fielding as the sweeper on the off side and Ahmad’s three overs proved rather expensive as a result.

A 37-run partnership was established by the visitors, who certainly looked to be giving the chase a good go and this was only ended by a run-out. Though it was brought about by a good, underarm throw by Akash Hazra running in from the covers, who made wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson’s job very easy, the majority of the blame goes to the batsmen for attempting such a tight single to begin with.

Yet this wicket did not spark a collapse and the remaining Blubberhouses opener combined with the visiting captain for 21 more runs, passing fifty in the process. It needed the return of Naveed Piran to break the partnership, bowling a short ball at the body and cramping the batsman for room, he could only steer it upwards and out towards square leg. Malcolm Barraclough made no mistake with the catch. Two balls later, the Blubberhouses opener smeared a shot into the off side and Fahad Ahmad took a good catch on the boundary edge, showing once more that the 2nd XI regulars are more adept at catching than their 1st XI counterparts.

Keen not to miss out after last week’s five-fer, Kamrosh Khan took a wicket in the next over with a delivery that just did enough off the surface to spin past the bat and unseat the bails. With the sudden loss of three wickets, the score had gone from 108/3 and the game in the balance to 108/6 and all but over as a contest. Khan then took another wicket in his next over with a difficult caught and bowled chance, far more difficult than the one he had earlier put down.

With the target virtually unreachable, captain Andrabi turned to some of his other bowling options who both rewarded him with a wicket. Akash Hazra’s first delivery wasn’t brilliant, but the wide half-volley was tempting enough for the batsman who steered it straight to Umar Farooq at point for a simple catch. Malcolm Barraclough then tried his luck with his loopy off-spin and ended the game with the final ball of his only over. Again induced into an expansive stroke by the bowler, the Blubberhouses batsman launched the ball to long-off where Akash Hazra moved smartly to his right and took the catch above his head. With no number eleven batsman available to them, the Blubberhouses innings was over meaning Arthington had achieved an 88-run victory.

The 1st XI can be satisfied with their afternoon’s work despite several aspects of the game not going perfectly for them. The contributions of several 2nd XI regulars were also important in securing victory, though Naveed Andrabi’s fine century and another superb bowling display from Naveed Piran must take the majority of the plaudits.

The result moves Arthington into fourth place in the table and they face a stern test to maintain that position when they play second place Birstwith at the ACG next weekend.

Many thanks to Ken Clayton for braving the chilly conditions and scoring for the 1st XI again. The team is very grateful for your contributions off the field.


Arthington finally beaten after failure in the chase

It is some feat to gain promotion and then go six games unbeaten in the following season and Arthington’s 2nd XI may even have forgotten what defeat feels like, so they must not be too disheartened to see their outstanding winning run come to an end on their travels to North Stainley. Set a mediocre target, the visitors were unable to reach the 150 runs required for victory, falling 19 short.

Martin Hings had also had selection headaches as several of his regular players were whisked up to the 1st XI for the weekend so opted for his tried and tested formula upon winning the toss, choosing to bowl first. However, for the second week running, Joe Seaborne and Martin Finn could not make early inroads in their first spells as North Stainley’s opening pair established a 52-run partnership.

In the end, it took the introduction of Hings himself to make the first breakthrough as he finally beat the batsman’s defences and dislodged the bails but though he and Andrew Stoddart both kept the flow of runs to a minimum, another 51-run partnership was formed. Where several bowlers had tried and failed, Vince Greaves-Newall’s bowling succeeded in some style. Fresh from a five-wicket haul in the previous fixture, the Arthington all-rounder went one better this time around, picking up six towards the back end of the North Stainley innings.

His first wicket was the most crucial, breaking the established partnership with a ball that went in between bat and pad to rattle the timbers. The home side’s number four then holed out to cow corner where Martin Dickinson took a good catch. Not satisfied with removing one of the set batsmen, Greaves-Newall then knocked over the other as the bails hit the floor once again.

There was a brief pause in the procession of wickets falling to Greaves-Newall as the returning Martin Finn also got in on the act, beating the bat and leaving the stumps in pieces. It was the former that helped himself to the next three, however, with another bowled, an LBW and a faint edge through to Dave Howard. For the second match in a row, Arthington’s all-rounder has returned incredible bowling figures, requiring just six overs for his six scalps on this occasion. Andrew Stoddart took the final North Stainley wicket to fall and the hosts ended their innings on 149/9 after the 40 overs.

The bowling side of the game has been the 2nd XI’s forte for some time though the asking rate of 3.75 per over should not have been as imposing as it eventually proved. Andrew Stoddart and Martin Dickinson opened the Arthington innings but scoring at just shy of four runs per over was clearly not part of their plan as they played out the first ten overs for only twelve runs. Running between the wickets was a clear problem, highlighted by a bizarre moment where Dickinson played a shot down the ground, ran nearly the length of the pitch, turned around after seeing Stoddart unmoved and made his ground once again. It would surely have been easier to run a single between the two of them.

After crawling along to begin with, things improved slightly as the innings reached its halfway stage with Arthington even being ahead of where the hosts had been at the same point. The break, however, caused the downfall of Dickinson for 24, including 4 fours, as he was bowled.

Vince Greaves-Newall combined with Stoddart for another 35 runs, but the scoring rate had still not picked up to where it needed to be and there were already signs that the game was getting away from the visitors. The usually positive Greaves-Newall could not breach the infield with regularity and was eventually dismissed for 15 via a catch and the same fate would befall Martin Hings whose run of good knocks came to an end as he could only manage three.

After Stoddart was caught attempting a boundary, the score had reached 102/4 and overs were fast running out. Though the Arthington opener managed the highest score of the match, the 103 balls required to get there hardly helped the away side’s cause. Breaking the habit of occupying the crease and attempting to increase the scoring rate a little earlier would no doubt have been to Arthington’s benefit. There were 6 fours in Stoddart’s innings of 44.

Arthington had not given up but it was difficult for the remaining batsmen as they had little time to play themselves in, instead being forced to take risks from the outset. As a result, Mohammad Faiyazuddin, Jo Nash, Joe Seaborne and Trevor Lobley were all bowled for single figure scores taking the score to 117/8.

Martin Finn and Dave Howard made a fist of it in the final overs but the scoring of more than a run a ball that both managed had come far too late in proceedings to make a difference and Arthington found themselves out of overs, still 18 runs short of the North Stainley total. Final score 131/8.

Slightly numb from both the cold weather and the defeat, Arthington must reflect primarily on their batting performance as the reason for their first defeat of the season. There have been warning signs in previous matches, but they have managed to get over the line on those occasions. The opening pair absorbed more than two thirds of the deliveries yet scored fewer than half the required runs between them and made the chase much harder for the batsmen to come. Credit must also go to North Stainley for a good display in the field.

The defeat is only a papercut in Arthington’s season and the 2nd XI still boast an impressive record and remain at the top of the division six table. Their next match will be another test when they travel to third placed Upper Wharfedale.