Arthington travelled to Markington for their latest fixture in division three to try and complete a match, having seen the earlier match between the two sides abandoned halfway through. The weather threatened before the match and there were several light showers throughout, but not enough to call a halt to proceedings. Arthington 1st XI used nine bowlers, the most that they have used all season, who were able to keep Markington at bay to allow for what turned out to be a comfortable chase.
Markington won the toss and elected to bat first but their innings could not have started in worse fashion, as Sajid Hussain took a wicket with the very first ball. It was somewhat fortunate that the wide half-volley ended up stinging the palms of Dave Cleasby at short extra-cover, rather than being dispatched to the cover boundary. Not to be outdone, fellow opening bowler Luke Seaborne also took a wicket in his first over, bowling a yorker to the remaining opening batsman who was unable to get his bat down in time and giving the scoreline more of a football feel to it, albeit briefly, at 3-2. Two overs later, it had turned into a rugby union score as Seaborne’s second over, a wicket maiden, made it 10-3. This time, the number three batsman, in trying to be positive, misjudged the bounce from a length delivery and hit the ball high in the air, eventually falling into the waiting hands of Ahmer Sadiq at mid-off. With no further wickets in the next three overs, Seaborne’s spell ended at 5-1-16-2.
Hussain (4-0-17-1) also ended his spell and was replaced by Sadiq. In keeping with the tradition of the day, he struck in his very first over as well. Having set up the batsman beautifully with variety in both pace and line and finally serving up an irresistible half-volley on the stumps, the batsman could only deposit the ball straight down a deliberately placed Umer Khan’s throat at long-off, who gobbled up an excellent catch. And Sadiq did not stop there, also taking wickets in his second and third overs, both bowled, to bring the score to 47-6 after only 13 overs. The second of these wickets was particularly noteworthy, as Sadiq was busy appealing for an LBW and looked most upset that the umpire had given nothing, whilst the rest of the team had seen the ball hit the stumps off the pads and had begun celebrating the dismissal. Sadiq finished with another set of excellent figures: 5-1-17-3.
With the scoreboard finally resembling a cricket match, or a very one-sided netball contest and with both Naveed Andrabi and Akash Hazra sadly bucking the trend and being unable to take a wicket in their short spells, the skipper turned to Umer Khan, whose 3-over spell was very eventful. Khan broke the 26-run partnership for the seventh wicket, the highest of the innings, when the batsman got an inside edge, which diverted the ball onto the stumps. He struck again in his very next over, when a short delivery bounced more than the batsman anticipated and his pull shot came off the top edge of the bat, ballooning to Mohammed Adil at square leg. Ahmer Sadiq did his best to put Adil off, by charging at him from mid-wicket screaming ‘Mine!’, but he sensibly stopped prior to a collision and allowed the catch to be taken. Khan’s spell of 3-0-6-2 could have been even better, as there were a further two wickets from no-balls; one correctly awarded for being above waist-height leading to a catch at gulley and a catch at mid-off ruled out for overstepping the popping crease; not an uncommon occurrence for Khan and his complicated run-up. Nevertheless, it was pleasing to see last season’s player’s player of the year back in the wickets.
Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi opted to use his seventh and eighth bowling options towards the end of the innings; Mohsin Ali and Mohammed Adil. The former took a wicket in the third and final over of his economical spell (3-1-2-1) and there was even time for a ninth bowler, as debutant Dave Cleasby, signed just before the transfer deadline, was able to end the innings with the final ball of his second over by trapping the batsman LBW. The final score in the Markington innings: 103 all out, from 30 overs.
Despite the pitch appearing to be more of a batting surface than a bowler’s playground, Arthington made hard work of the reply to begin with, as they lost four wickets in the first nine overs. The score reached first 10-3 and then 21-4 and all four dismissals came from the bowling of the same Markington bowler. However, despite the frailty at one end, Naveed Andrabi, together with Andrew Dowson, was able to steady the ship and ultimately steer it home. The two combined for an excellent 75-run partnership, with Andrabi scoring the bulk of the runs. Dowson’s contribution of 17 was important, not so much for the runs scored but for the time spent at the crease, which allowed Andrabi to settle into his innings, before accelerating towards the finish line.
It was unfortunate that Dowson was dismissed with only 8 runs required for victory, edging to slip, but fitting that Andrabi should hit the winning runs with one of many fine boundaries in his unbeaten innings of 66, which included 10 fours and a six. In contrast to many of his high-scoring efforts in recent history, this was a chanceless knock and with him at the crease, the result was never in doubt, provided that the Arthington middle order batsmen could stem the early flow of wickets at the other end. Arthington completed their 20-point victory from 21.2 overs: 104-5.
This result sees Arthington creep a further two points closer to their second place rivals, North Stainley and more or less see off the charge of Bolton Abbey, from fourth place, who suffered defeat. Realistically, Arthington 1st XI need to win their remaining two fixtures, extending their recent unbeaten run, and hope that North Stainley fail to win one of theirs. There is just the small matter of unbeaten Whixley at the top of the table to contend with next week.
At the ACG, Arthington 2nd XI were unable to end their recent run of defeats, as they lost to Darley. Batting first, they posted a total of 137-6 from the 40 overs. Mohammed Faiyazuddin acted as the glue to hold the innings together with his 57 and there was a 23-run cameo from Trevor Lobley at the end. Darley reached the total at the end of the 22nd over for the loss of only one wicket; a stunning catch by Gareth Meredith, by all accounts, from the bowling of Nitin Jain.
Arthington CC thanks the match ball sponsors for this round of fixtures.
1st XI match ball sponsor: Reward Financial Group
2nd XI match ball sponsor: John Darnbrook