Arthington fail to take advantage of good fortune and bow out of the cup

After surviving a scare in the first round, Arthington were keen to progress in the next round of the Wath Cup by actually winning their next fixture against West Tanfield outright, as progressing by virtue of most wickets taken in a tied match is not good for the long-term health of their players. However, another unconvincing batting display saw them come undone at the hands of some good opposition who came through the fixture relatively unscathed but for a few late scares.

Clearly wise to Arthington’s struggles in the shorter format, the hosts put their opponents in to bat and an untested opening pair of Malcolm Barraclough and Gareth Meredith made their way to the crease. What followed was some rather calamitous cricket from both sides as blunders followed errors, which led to mistakes and resulted in an amusing series of events. Barraclough set the tone from the very first ball when he nailed a leg-side full toss straight at the mid-wicket fielder who spilled the catching chance. Both Arthington batsmen then got off the mark in bizarre fashion as attempted sweeps into the leg-side were edged over the wicketkeeper and into safe ground for a single apiece.

Barraclough survived another dropped chance in the second over but Meredith was not so lucky and his skied shot was caught by a West Tanfield fielder. Incredibly, the remaining Arthington opener was dropped a third time in the third over and was walking an extremely frayed tightrope. Yet the lives he had been given had had no effect on his aggressive approach and he combined nicely with Vince Greaves-Newall in a 38-run second-wicket partnership as both batsmen struck a brace of fours as they passed double figures.

Barraclough’s luck finally ran out when a fourth catching chance was finally accepted by a home fielder to bring Luke Seaborne to the middle. The Arthington number four pilfered three runs from his first three balls faced before watching on as Greaves-Newall danced past a wide ball thrown down by the home side’s spinner to be stumped. One of Mohammad Faiyazuddin’s first involvements in proceedings was to balloon a simple catching chance to the right of mid-wicket and though the fielder made the ground easily, the catch was spilled yet again. As the eventful over was coming to an end, there was still time for Seaborne to serve up another catching chance to cover from a leading edge and the Arthington number four had clearly worn the wrong socks because his first chance was also his last and off he trudged.

Faiyazuddin and Martin Dickinson then wafted at a few balls outside off-stump as the score stagnated but the former soon found his way back to the changing room upon having his stumps tickled by the West Tanfield first change bowler. Joe Seaborne was the next man in and he was one of the few bright sparks of an otherwise gloomy Arthington innings. Finding value in playing with a straight bat, Arthington’s primary strike bowler top-scored with the bat, managing a pair of boundaries on his way to 21. Meanwhile, Dickinson had edged behind to the wicketkeeper and Arthington captain Martin Hings had struck six and out as he was bowled in the same over he had hit a maximum over long-on.

Ben Hings did not trouble the scorers as he was also bowled before the younger of the Seaborne brothers served up a catch to mid-off to end his fine innings in one of the few chances he has had to prove his worth with willow in hand.

Dave Howard and Dougie Jones then provided some lower order excitement and burgled four runs from the final few balls of the innings, also ensuring that the visitors were not bowled out, finishing their innings instead on 83/9 after 20 overs. The score would best be described as below par, though given the numerous chances that were spurned by the hosts, it could easily have been worse.

Hope was rekindled for Arthington, however, in the very first over of the chase. Having been struck for a four over mid-on, Joe Seaborne took pace off the final delivery of his first over and an attempted blast through the covers instead lopped high into the air between third man and point. Dougie Jones was stationed at short third-man for just such an eventuality, though it seemed as though the ball would land safe having begun its descent. Jones, though, pulled off a stunning diving catch just inches from the turf to assist in taking the first wicket.

The West Tanfield batsmen then knuckled down and a 74-run partnership was formed for the second wicket, all but sealing Arthington’s fate. However, the batsmen were using up valuable deliveries in attempting to reach the target and as overs ticked by, the asking rate slowly increased. A pair of expensive overs from Mohammad Faiyazuddin and Martin Dickinson, which went for 14 and 12 runs respectively then gave the hosts the upper hand once more. The excellent partnership was broken, at last, by a catch at cover by Luke Seaborne off the bowling of the impressive Dougie Jones and a strange transformation overcame the West Tanfield batsmen who, only six runs away from victory and with six overs remaining, retreated into their shells and suddenly found themselves unable to score.

Jones, in tandem with the equally wily Malcolm Barraclough began tying the opposition in knots as the home side tried desperately to inch their way across the finishing line. Jones bowled a maiden and Barraclough’s two overs only went for three runs and included a sharp caught and bowled dismissal in the second to take the score to 81/3. In what turned out to be the final over of the match, the score became 81/4 when Martin Dickinson moved round from point to take a catch behind square to give Jones a deserved second wicket.

However, the West Tanfield number six did what his fellow batsmen could not and bludgeoned a length ball over the bowler’s head for a four to end the contest. Despite defeat, Arthington’s fielding display was almost faultless, particularly when compared with that of their opponents and the bowling was also very commendable. The visitors will feel that they were 20 or 30 runs short with the bat and it was this shortcoming that proved crucial in this season’s cup exit. Arthington wish West Tanfield good fortune in the cup going forward and hope that they can secure cup success for a division six team.

Arthington’s 1st XI still have a chance of cup glory in the Atkinson-Swires competition when they travel to Upper Wharfedale’s aptly named Pressure Cooker on June 19th for a quarter-final showdown with the division two high fliers in what will undoubtedly be another keenly fought contest. Many thanks, once again, to the omnipresent Ken Clayton for scoring the cup match for the 2nd XI.