ARTHINGTON HOLD ON TO BEAT TOP OF THE LEAGUE
In a competitive match, which ebbed and flowed, Arthington 1st XI managed to restrict North Stainley’s chase to secure a much-needed victory, despite several key absentees. On a lovely day and a fantastic ground, Arthington stand-in skipper Sajid Hussain won the toss and decided to bat first.
Much had been said in the dressing room, prior to the match, about the need to improve on a very disappointing batting performance in the previous game and the importance of not losing wickets. Despite an early LBW, opener Hussain and number three Matthew Moss set a good example and formed an excellent 55-run partnership displaying good running between the wickets. Unfortunately, Moss was trapped LBW off a grubber that hardly got off the ground for a determined 27, and the third and fourth wickets quickly followed, leaving Arthington on 99-4. Importantly, Hussain was still at the crease and was now joined by Kevin Braithwaite, who had made a great fifty in his previous league innings. The two put on 51 for the fifth wicket, before Hussain holed out to deep mid-wicket 2 runs short of his fifty.
From there, wickets fell at regular intervals, although Nouman Raffique had a brief 14-run cameo. But amidst the tumbling wickets, Braithwaite remained unbeaten and reached a well-deserved fifty in the penultimate over of the innings. In contrast to his previous half-century, which displayed great patience and discipline, this one was full of aggression and attacking shots, including 6 fours and a six. At the end of the innings, he had reached 52 not out and had helped Arthington reach a final total of 205-9.
North Stainley started well in their innings and did not lose a wicket until they had reached 60 runs, as Ahmer Sadiq made the first of his two key breakthroughs in the North Stainley top order, inducing a catch at slip. Further 40-run partnerships followed and took the score to 143-3, with one opener still at the crease and it seemed that North Stainley were favourites to win. But some fine bowling from Mohsin Ali, in his second spell, proved the difference as he perfected his line and length and hit the stumps on four occasions in total, including the key wicket of the opening batsman who was finally dismissed for 86. Still there was hope for North Stainley, but Arthington could afford to have the majority of their fielders on the boundary at this point. As the runs dried up, wickets continued to fall and a run out in the final over brought an end to the chase, with North Stainley 10 runs short of the target. 195 all out.
Following back-to-back defeats, a trip to the league leaders was a daunting prospect for the 1st XI, but even with their two highest run-scorers, leading wicket taker and regular wicketkeeper absent, the team performed well and kept themselves in the hunt for a third successive promotion.
It was an Arthington vs North Stainley double this week too, as Arthington 2nd XI hosted the North Stainley 2nd XI at the ACG. 1st team absences did, unfortunately, have an impact on the 2nd team, who struggled to contain the North Stainley runs in the first innings; knocks of 72 and an unbeaten 105 being the main contributions towards a final score of 251-6, despite the bowling exploits of Mohammed Faiyazuddin (10-2-50-3). In reply, Arthington were bowled out in the 35th over for 127 (Trevor Lobley 27, Faiyazuddin 21, Abdul Bhatti 17*).
Next week, the 2nd XI face North Stainley again, in a reverse fixture. The 1st XI are looking to do the double at home against Rainton, who proved to be tough opposition in the opening match of the season.
Arthington CC extends its gratitude to the match ball sponsors for this week.1st XI match ball sponsor: Gipton & Harehills Councillors
2nd XI match ball sponsor: Kirkstall Councillors