Due to the Nidderdale League’s decision to have play-offs at the end of this pandemic-affected season, the match reports from the fixtures on 12th and 19th September have been combined into a single report of the club’s exciting play-off journey.
Hosts rampant as highest score of the season sees off visitors
Both Arthington sides were in excellent form in the semi-final phase of the play-offs and eased through to their respective finals with two convincing displays.
Having finished 2nd in the shortened league campaign, the 1st XI faced a visit from 3rd place Walton Park; a team they had not yet played. Knowing little about the opposition, captain Naveed Andrabi was disappointed to lose the toss and bat first on what seemed a bowler-friendly day. His disappointment, however, was short-lived, as both he and Sajid Hussain combined well in a fabulous 103-run stand for the first wicket. Hussain, in particular, showed great intent from the off and hit several fine boundaries. It was this intent that proved his undoing in the 20th over as he was stumped for 33.
The top seven of Arthington’s batting line-up all made double figures, but the stand out innings was, once again, Andrabi. Having negotiated the early overs, he attacked the Walton Park bowling and struck some magnificent blows to the straight boundaries. A shot from a full-toss into the off-side was sailing for his eighth six but was excellently intercepted by a fielder to bring the captain’s innings to a close on 83, having also hit 7 fours.
Amazingly, Lawrence Barraclough (18), Ahmer Sadiq (26), Hamza Mahmood (36), Rafiullah Khan (26) and Wasim Malik (13) all hit at least one maximum, as the middle order accelerated in the latter part of the innings. Understandably, the gung-ho approach was not without risk and after the opening partnership, no pair spent a great deal of time together at the crease.
In fact, there were still seven balls left in the innings when Arthington lost their final wicket, but that did not prevent them from achieving their highest score of the season of 279. An intimidating target for the opposition, requiring 7 runs per over from the very start.
Their reply got off to a shaky start with a great run-out. Hamza Mahmood’s clever throw to the far end found Luke Seaborne waiting by the stumps to remove the bails. The batsman was comfortably short of his ground but had the throw gone to the closer end, there would have been no reward. Mahmood then backed up his fielding with a wicket from his bowling to leave the visitors two wickets down and struggling.
The change bowlers, Ahmer Sadiq and Umar Farooq each managed a wicket apiece, the latter’s scalp courtesy of a great catch by Wasim Malik, which brought the Walton Park number 5 batsman to the middle. On another day, his determined knock may have led his team to victory as he batted for the remainder of the innings, but on this occasion his teammates were not able to match his ability and fell around him.
Wasim Malik took the first of his three wickets via a simple catch by Ahmer Sadiq at cover, then Rafiullah Khan joined in the carnage by unseating the bails. Malik struck again, this time with the help of wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson and a catch behind from a very wide ball that the batsman chased. Khan then took his second and third wickets, the latter a caught and bowled, to finish on great figures of 4-2-7-3. This left Malik to bring an end to proceedings as the remaining middle order batsman’s patience finally told and he skied a ball high to the boundary. There was still a great deal to do for the fielder, but Lawrence Barraclough covered excellent ground and took a terrific, diving catch which left him sprawled across the outfield but with the ball safely in his grasp. Walton Park all out for 112.
To nobody’s surprise, Upper Wharfedale saw off Raskelf in even more emphatic fashion to set up a mouth-watering final. Having claimed victory at their rival’s ground last year in the cup, the 1st XI will be confident of repeating the feat. Whatever the case, it promises to be a great match.
Arthington 2nd XI played their semi-final match at Glasshouses, owing to the 1st XI occupying the ACG. Their opposition was the same Thirsk side that fell on their sword the previous week and the match began in similar fashion with the opposition quickly finding themselves 1-2. However, there was a slight recovery to see them reach 73 all out with four overs left in the innings. Once again, Martin Hings (10-5-7-2) and Joe Seaborne (10-6-8-1) displayed their fine bowling skills, each going for less than one run per over and bowling 11 maidens between them.
Vince Greaves-Newall then capitalised with three wickets in his eight overs and there were also two run outs. There was even time for Umer Khan to take a wicket in his first and only over to wrap up the innings.
The reply was not smooth sailing for Arthington though, and with the score at 24-4, it seemed that an unlikely comeback from Thirsk may have been on the cards. But Gareth Meredith and Vince Greaves-Newall settled any Arthington nerves and saw the team home with an excellent, unbeaten 55-run partnership. Meredith struck 3 fours and 3 sixes in his score of 31 and Greaves-Newall finished not out on 23.
It was no surprise to the 2nd XI either, that their play-off final opponents would be Walton Park, who eased past Rainton. The prospect of an excellent final between the division’s two best teams at the ACG was tantalising.
A great day for Arthington CC as both sides record memorable cup final triumphs
The 2020 season has been a difficult one for any passionate cricket player. With the league season having been drastically cut to commence in July rather than April, Arthington’s players knew that every match that was played would be significantly more important and special. After a fantastic league campaign, both the 1st and 2nd XI had the chance to win their respective divisions on the final day of the season. All that was required was one more victory.
The 1st XI took a strong team to Upper Wharfedale, with whom the club has developed quite a fierce rivalry. Ahead of the final, the opposition had the edge over Arthington with two victories to the away side’s one. Still fresh in the mind of all the players, no doubt, was the match between the two sides only two weeks prior, which saw Upper Wharfedale claim bragging rights and the top spot in the league table with a narrow win. However, owing to the unique circumstances of this season’s competition, Arthington had a chance for redemption in a winner takes all cup final to decide the league championship.
The stage was set, the views from the pavilion were spectacular and the smell of agriculture filled the nostrils as both captains strode out to the middle for the toss. In the previous match between the two teams, the toss had proved vital, as the opposition put Arthington in to bat before chasing down their score of 207 with 8 balls to spare. The coin favoured Upper Wharfedale once more, but on this occasion their captain had other plans and opted to bat first; a decision with which Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi was not too disappointed.
The wicket was dry and notably hard at the start of play and a strong breeze was blowing from one end to the other. Luke Seaborne took the new ball and bowled into the breeze in his opening spell. After taking a couple of overs to find his line, Seaborne (5-0-28-1) struck with an out-swinging delivery that took the opening batsman’s outside edge and was excellently caught at second slip by Lawrence Barraclough.
However, despite the early wicket, it was still Upper Wharfedale who had control of the contest after 14 overs, with the score at 65-1 and the hosts were seemingly in the mood to set an imposing total. But Ahmer Sadiq, having replaced Seaborne at the blustery end made a crucial breakthrough in his third over to bowl the remaining Upper Wharfedale opener for an expansive 37 with a full and straight delivery.
Wasim Malik, whose performances with the bat for the 2nd XI had opened many an eye proved just how valuable a player he is with the ball as well with a fine spell of economical bowling. In his seven overs, again bowling into the wind, he conceded only 20 runs and wrestled control of the game back into Arthington’s hands. His tight lines and back of a length bowling proved difficult for the Upper Wharfedale batsmen to get away and the only thing missing from his spell was a well-deserved wicket.
At the other end, Naveed Andrabi’s spell came and went without changing the number in the wickets column, but Umar Farooq (4-0-12-1) did make a crucial breakthrough in the 26th over; his second. In an attempt to regain the momentum, the Upper Wharfedale number three tried to go over the top, but sliced the ball high towards deep cover. For a moment, it seemed that the ball would fall agonisingly short of a despairing Ahmer Sadiq, but he somehow made the ground and still had the composure to take a great, running catch.
With the conclusion of the innings’ 30th over came perhaps the most significant moment of the match. Captain Andrabi opted to use his seventh bowling option in Rafiullah Khan, who had been chomping at the bit for an opportunity to bowl. The Arthington players remembered all too well how destructive the Upper Wharfedale lower order can be, after they had amassed nearly 100 runs in the final 10 overs of their previous innings against them to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, so this phase of the game was crucial for both teams.
A fantastic spell of bowling from Khan ensured that history would not repeat itself on this occasion. In his second over, he removed the dangerous and prolific number four batsman via a catch at long-off from Umar Farooq. In his next over he struck twice, cannoning the ball into the stumps with the third ball of the over before inducing a catch behind by wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson with the last. But the Khan express had not finished its journey there and the next station stop was in the following over with another bail-disturbing full delivery, which caught out a bewildered batsman.
At the other end, Hamza Mahmood finally got rewarded for his efforts, rearranging the stumps in the penultimate over of the innings to finish with terrific figures of 9-2-30-1. It seemed that Upper Wharfedale would take some momentum into their bowling innings as Khan conceded his first boundary with only one more ball to be bowled; an enormous six from a full toss dispatched down the ground. But Khan silenced the many spectators with the final ball of the innings. An unplayable yorker to wrap up his five-for and his incredible bowling spell: 5-0-15-5. After the 40 overs, Upper Wharfedale finished on 171-9, leaving Arthington with a target of 172 to win the league trophy.
Having achieved higher scores in all of their previous batting innings this season, Arthington were confident of getting over the line. However, their optimism was significantly dented when Kamrosh Khan was given out LBW from the very first ball of the reply. This brought Naveed Andrabi to the crease much sooner than he would have liked, but he combined well with opener Umar Farooq to settle Arthington nerves.
At exactly the halfway stage and with the final ball of the 20th over, the 88-run partnership was broken. Andrabi picked the wrong shot to play to a full and fast delivery on the stumps and was cleaned up for an exciting 57, which included 10 fours and 1 magnificent six over backward point. Clearly, the captain’s dismissal had an effect on Farooq, who quickly took over the role of primary run-scorer. His new-found aggression did, ultimately, prove to be his downfall when he picked out the man infront of the throng of Upper Wharfedale supporters at cow corner and was caught. Farooq struck 4 fours and a six in his important innings of 37 taking the score to 116-3.
116 appeared to be a very unlucky number for Arthington, as the score would remain there for three consecutive maiden overs. To make matters worse, halfway through the third of those maidens, Arthington’s hero with the ball Rafiullah Khan was given out LBW, a decision with which he was not overly pleased, indicating that the ball had struck his hip and, being a man of significant stature, this meant that the ball would not have gone on to hit his stumps.
Whether the decision was right or wrong, the outcome was that Arthington found themselves in a spot of bother at the end of the 26th over, still 56 runs short of their target and with four dismissed batsmen now unable to further influence the course of the match. The seemingly straightforward task of scoring exactly four runs per over for victory, complicated by Upper Wharfedale’s excellent bowling attack.
Finally, the score did move forward, and Hamza Mahmood took up the scoring baton. However, soon after he struck a colossal six he was forced to look on helplessly as Ahmer Sadiq served a tricky caught and bowled chance to the excellent Upper Wharfedale spinner who gobbled up the opportunity.
The aforementioned bowling attack faltered in the next five overs, which turned out to be the final five overs of the match, as Mahmood and Lawrence Barraclough expertly steered the Arthington ship into port with their unbeaten 48-run stand. Upper Wharfedale had clearly not learnt from the previous fixture and repeatedly fed Barraclough his favourite delivery, which he dismissed to various parts of the leg-side boundary on three occasions on his way to an important 15. Meanwhile Mahmood, who treated the spin bowling with the utmost respect from one end, took apart the struggling pace bowler running into the wind at the other and used the wind to devastating effect to carry a further three sixes over the boundary.
Mahmood needed only 5 of the 6 balls from the 34th over to seal a fantastic Arthington victory, finishing on 40 not out including 4 sixes and 2 fours. Arthington’s innings: 175-5.
A delighted 1st XI lifted the third division trophy and, with victory, also ended Upper Wharfedale’s staggering record of not losing a league match in four years, since their birth in division six of the Nidderdale League in 2017; some 70+ games. They have proven to be terrific opposition in all four matches against Arthington’s 1st XI and with the score now at 2-2, the rivalry looks set to continue.
At the ACG, far away from the events at Upper Wharfedale, the Arthington 2nd XI played out their own dramatic final. In a similar outcome to division three, the two best sides of the league campaign met in the final to decide the overall winner. Arthington had beaten Walton Park in their last meeting and so went into the game as slight favourites.
Walton Park won the toss and elected to bat first but were immediately faced with two of the division’s stand-out bowlers in Martin Hings and Joe Seaborne. Seaborne’s first spell was extraordinary, as he bowled 5 consecutive maidens. Hings, usually the master of economical bowling went for an alarming 13 runs from his 10 overs, but did claim the first two wickets of the innings early on to leave the score at 2-2; visions of last week’s semi-final victory against Thirsk no doubt entering the minds of the Arthington players after a remarkably similar start to proceedings.
It was the Arthington stalwart, Vince Greaves-Newall (10-4-23-4) who did the majority of the damage with the ball, taking the wicket of the Walton Park opener via a catch from Joe Seaborne at cover and a further three by virtue of hitting the stumps. Mohammed Adil also played a starring role in the first innings with two run outs and a wicket in a 6-over spell. Seaborne (8.4-5-18-1) was finally rewarded for the bowling in his first spell with an LBW in his second, before the second of Adil’s run outs ended the Walton Park innings at 111 all out.
What appeared a comfortable chase proved to be anything but for Arthington and while opening batsman Jo Nash remained entrenched at one end, wickets tumbled at the other as Umer Khan, captain Martin Dickinson and Vince Greaves-Newall all went cheaply taking the score onto a worrying 13-3. An excellent 67-run stand between Nash and Mohammed Adil steadied the ship, before Adil’s dismissal sparked another flurry of wickets including that of Nash for a determined 32, to set up a nail-biting finish at 92-6.
Gareth Meredith’s useful 12 helped the cause and in the 37th over, Martin Hings (10*) finally finished the match with a boundary and a final score of 114-7. The 2nd XI’s season finished with their toughest test yet, but they got through it and finished unbeaten in 2020. It is still unclear what awaits the 2nd XI in 2021, due to ongoing discussions and the possible movement of several teams in the league. Hopefully, a deserved place in a higher division will be theirs.
At the end of an unfortunately short but enjoyable season, Arthington finish on top as double champions. The final day of the season proved to be as exciting as it was extraordinary and arguably the greatest day in the history of the club to date. May there be many more successes in the years to come for Arthington Cricket Club.
As ever, the club wishes to thank all the match ball sponsors during this play-off fortnight.
1st XI match ball sponsor for the semi-final match against Walton Park: Colin Seaborne
2nd XI match ball sponsor for the semi-final match against Thirsk: Elizabeth Nash
1st XI match ball sponsor for the final against Upper Wharfedale: Naveed Andrabi
2nd XI match ball sponsor for the final against Walton Park: Jo Nash
Thanks also to Chris Pennington for the upkeep of the club website, Ken Clayton for scoring most of the 2nd XI matches, Malcolm Barraclough for his commitment to the 1st XI in scoring and umpiring throughout the season, all the various supporters we have had at our matches and to everyone who reads my long-winded match reports on a weekly basis. The regular kind comments are greatly appreciated. If you got to the end of this one then you deserve particular credit. Speak to you all again next season.