Arthington clinch victory in final over thriller

In what was billed as possibly the toughest weekend to date for Arthington in the 2022 season, both teams passed their respective tests with flying colours to secure two wins and maximum points in matches against title challenging rivals.

At the ACG, the first XI faced the visit of Birstwith who sat in second place before play began. A rain delay shortly after proceedings had begun resulted in the game becoming a 42-over contest and with conditions likely a factor, the visitors had won the toss and elected to field first.

Arthington opened their innings with the returning Sajid Hussain and Umar Farooq and the pair survived ten overs before Hussain lost his wicket in the eleventh after a catching chance was held. Farooq followed soon after for 18 after a rare caught and bowled and the wicket brought the home side’s two form players together at the crease.

Naveed Andrabi had scored a century in the previous match and Nathan Smith had accumulated over 200 runs in the early part of the season before a two-match break. The pair looked in fine touch and took the score beyond 100 with a 96-run partnership that lasted 16 overs. Birstwith had tried many things to break the partnership but it was their sixth bowling option that finally brought about the wicket of Andrabi, who made 45 including 7 fours.

With the innings now entering its latter stages, further partnerships became more brief yet still added handy runs. Smith was ever-present throughout as he combined with Kamrosh Khan for 22 and Naveed Piran for 35 with the former being run out and the latter bowled for 14 after two fours and a six.

Alex O’Neil then struck a couple of boundaries before he failed to connect cleanly with a slower ball and was caught in the deep. Akash Hazra also departed in the 41st over and in doing so gave the Birstwith opening bowler Pete Hardisty an impressive five-wicket haul having taken the wickets of both openers and three more from the middle order, conceding just 37 runs in his 11 overs.

Nathan Smith found himself on 85 not out at the start of the final over and after a pair of singles between him and Rahul Khode, followed by a two, he needed 12 from the final two deliveries to reach a maiden Arthington century. His hopes were dashed when he could only strike a four with the penultimate delivery but he made up for it with the final ball, striking that for a clean six to finish on 98 not out, which included 8 fours and 5 sixes. His knock was the highlight of the Arthington innings, which ended on 226/7 from the reduced 42 overs. Had the rain held off earlier in the day, Smith may well have reached his three figures.

After a good performance with the bat, the hosts were hoping that their bowlers could finish the job by continuing their recent run of impressive displays. Birstwith, on the other hand, needed to score at over five runs per over in their pursuit of the total.

Their innings got off to a poor start when Naveed Piran effected a caught and bowled in just the third over but the second wicket partnership proved a tougher nut to crack and took the game into the 16th over and the score to 51. At this point, Rahul Khode began to make his impact on the match, taking wickets in his first, second and third overs and making Arthington favourites for victory in the process.

Firstly, a catch was taken by Kamrosh Khan before Khode took matters into his own hands by unseating the bails and finally Umar Farooq helped the Arthington off-spinner to the last of his quick trio of wickets with another catch and completed the removal of the Birstwith top order. The score was 71/4 at this stage.

Yet Birstwith had not amassed the highest number of batting bonus points in the division for no reason and there was clearly more batting to come. The 53-run stand for the fifth wicket proved to be the highest of the innings and put the visitors back into contention. The high rate of scoring continued with a three-over return spell from Umar Farooq costing 29 runs before he was removed from the attack while Naveed Piran was well into his second spell at the other end.

It was the Arthington paceman that broke the partnership via a second catch by Kamrosh Khan, who will be pleased to hold onto a couple of catches after several drops earlier in the season. The run-rate refused to slow down, however, as the away side continued to score at over six runs per over as the game drew towards its conclusion. At the end of the 33rd over, the match was delicately poised on 150/5. 77 runs were required for victory in nine overs. A tall order under normal circumstances but with wickets in hand and clearly a good batting pitch at their disposal, Birstwith were in with more than a sniff.

Rahul Khode dented their hopes at the start of his second spell to take his fourth wicket and bowl out Birstwith’s Callum Halliday who had achieved his side’s top score for the innings of 35. The fall of that wicket signalled the start of some cricketing carnage as both sides went at each other with blows being struck by both sides.

Kamrosh Khan managed to take his first wicket of the game via a superb low catch on the square boundary by Rahul Khode who had a very impactful game though his next and last over for the match was dispatched for 14 runs. Khan fared even worse in his next over as 15 runs came off it though with the small bonus of his second wicket, in between two sixes. This time, the catch was taken by Naveed Piran.

Piran was then brought back on to bowl for a third spell but his over also went for 15 runs and suddenly, the visitors looked favourites for victory with the score now at 204/8 after 38 overs; four overs remained and 23 runs were required.

Perhaps taking the final two Birstwith wickets was the only way that Arthington were going to save the game, but Umar Farooq and Piran ended their bowling for the day by conceding only 14 runs between them in the next three overs to set up a grandstand finish. 218/8 after 41 overs. 9 runs to win. 8 runs for a tie. Two wickets to end the contest early. Yet Arthington had used up the overs of three of their bowling options and the spin of Rahul Khode could easily bring about a swift demise via one or two lusty blows. It was too much of a risk.

Instead, it was the Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi who opted to bowl the final over himself, his very first of the match: a brave call. Yet it appeared to have done the trick as with the very first ball the bails hit the turf and the Birstwith number ten was on his way back to the pavilion. A heroic cameo was needed from the incoming tailender to give their team a chance, but he, along with number nine Darren Robinson, whose 33-run cameo was the only thing giving the away side hope at this late stage, could only manage a pair of singles from the next two deliveries. The number eleven then played out a dot ball before the match was sealed only one ball prematurely by Andrabi, who hit the timbers again and left Birstwith six runs short. A fantastic contest by two strong sides ended with a narrow Arthington victory. Birstwith all out for 220 in the final over.

The win means that Arthington’s record of five wins and three defeats matches that of the visitors but Birstwith remain ten points clear by virtue of accumulating more batting and bowling bonus points. Arthington are now in fourth place in a well-established top five in division one. Their next opponents are Killinghall, who sit first.

Thanks must go to Ken Clayton for scoring the 1st XI game and to Alison Dowson whose return as the Arthington tea lady was greatly appreciated by all in attendance.



Arthington dominate to subdue their rivals

Please note that the scorecard for this match has not been uploaded and therefore what follows may not be a completely accurate version of events, as the recollection is purely based on memory.

After a pleasant journey to Grassington, Arthington’s 2nd XI were greeted by very strong winds for their game against long-standing rivals Upper Wharfedale. Now extremely shrewd in the art of captaincy, Martin Hings showed no hesitation in electing to bowl first after winning the toss owing to the home side’s two recent failures with the bat, which has seen them suffer consecutive defeats.

Master stroke number two was to open the bowling with Andrew Stoddart, though this may also have been born of necessity due to the wind blowing straight down the ground which would make pace bowling much more difficult from the top end. At the other end, Joe Seaborne had some extra pace to work with as the gusts aided him in his run-up. Stoddart struck within his very first over as the Upper Wharfedale opener was unfortunate to play onto his stumps and though Seaborne toiled and was incredulous at not being awarded a certain LBW, it was Arthington’s spinner that did all the damage, taking a further three wickets in his unbroken 10-over spell, conceding only twelve runs in the process.

Throughout the first innings, the strong wind continued to make its presence known and both sight screens were sent crashing to the ground at different points owing to them either being significantly weighted down or being retired from the contest entirely. Stoddart, whose cap had a mind of its own in the gale, was assisted for one of his wickets by an excellent caught behind by Dave Howard, managed an LBW all of his own making and another bowled to wrap up another fine spell of bowling. After a short burst from Martin Finn at the other end without reward, the innings reached its halfway stage with the visitors well in the ascendancy.

Vince Greaves-Newall took over the baton from Stoddart but failed to find the form with which he had taken six wickets the previous week. Instead, he sprayed several deliveries down the leg-side and lacked the control of Stoddart. However, he did manage a wicket when a sweep shot found its way to a well-placed Luke Seaborne at backward square leg who did not have to move to take a simple catch. It was around this time that Martin Finn performed a disappearing act having saved a boundary chasing a ball down to the fine-leg rope. He was unable to slow his momentum and plunged down the bank, out of sight and onto the rugby field adjacent to the cricket pitch. After a few hilarious seconds he reappeared sheepishly, checking his surroundings like a meerkat looking for predators.

Martin Hings bowled a short but decisive spell from the wind-assisted end and picked up two wickets. Another catch behind from Dave Howard helped him out with the first before he sent the bails flying for his second. Greaves-Newall also managed a second wicket and at this point, the home side’s left-handed number three batsman had finally left centre stage having batted well for around 40 runs.

The innings was wrapped up clinically by Joe Seaborne, returning for his second spell, who bowled an unplayable middle-stump yorker with the final ball of his first over back. The ball was then handed to Martin Finn bowling into the wind. Clearly the change of ends did the trick as he took a wicket with his first and only ball running into the breeze via a catch at mid-on by Joe Seaborne. Upper Wharfedale all out for 103 in the 36th over.

Though they had bowled very well to keep the hosts to a low total, Arthington knew that the match was far from over, having failed in a chase the previous weekend and suffering a defeat in a mid-week cup match due largely to a poor outing with the bat. Andrew Stoddart opened the batting with Luke Seaborne and the latter looked to add some early impetus to the innings with a four over mid-wicket but was bowled in the next over for only nine.

That proved to be the only wicket that fell in the remainder of the contest as Stoddart and Vince Greaves-Newall guided the Arthington innings to the total. Though both scored slowly with only the occasional boundary being struck, the chase was always in hand and when the total was finally reached there were still over nine overs to be bowled.

The comfortable 20-point victory sees Arthington cement their position at the top of the division six table, now with a sizeable lead over the teams tied for third place. Upper Wharfedale, however, plunge from third to seventh as several sides were able to overtake them. Next week, the 2nd XI face a visit from bottom side Burton Leonard.