Arthington cling on to seal championship in thriller
It was a historic day for Arthington cricket club in the penultimate league fixture of the season, as both sides secured promotion to their next divisions and won the championship in doing so. The 1st XI faced their sternest test yet as they travelled to second place Killinghall.
There was no history to go on prior to the match, as the previous meeting earlier in the season had been called off due to poor weather before a ball had been bowled, but the equation for Arthington was fairly straightforward. Win and they would only need to avoid a trouncing in their final match to seal the title, win well and there was a realistic chance of securing a guaranteed first place finish provided third place Alne dropped a few points against Whixley. Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi won the toss and elected to bat first.
The opening pairing of Sajid Hussain and Zain Muhammad started cautiously and after seven overs had played out five as maidens. Muhammad was unfortunate to find a well-set field barring his way to several boundaries through the off side, while the majority of Hussain’s scoring shots went towards third man, either deliberately or otherwise. In fact, both batsmen were fortunate to be dropped by Killinghall fielders in the cordon in the early stages.
Muhammad was able to break the shackles eventually with some nice boundary hitting into the leg side but a similar shot was also his downfall when he miscued the ball high into the off side and was easily caught on 17 for the first wicket. Naveed Andrabi came to the crease in determined mood and wasted little time finding the boundary, albeit via an edge wide of first slip. His second boundary was much more emphatic: a six over deep mid-wicket that found its way into a neighbouring garden. He was able to repeat the feat two overs later off Killinghall’s first change bowler who had a torrid time in his brief three over spell. Andrabi took a liking to the reduction in pace and pounced on anything slightly off target with ruthless efficiency.
At the other end, however, Hussain’s patient innings came to an end when a short ball took the edge of his bat and was caught by the wicketkeeper for 16: a ball that he could easily have left alone. Two profitable overs later and Arthington’s skipper fell to the first moment of some controversy when he was given out LBW despite aiming a shot into the leg side to a ball that appeared to be missing leg-stump. Andrabi’s 36 had come from just 20 balls and included 4 fours and 3 sixes, totally changing the momentum of the game. At the 23-over mark and drinks, Arthington had reached 102/3.
Umar Farooq and Kamrosh Khan’s 65-run partnership was crucial in setting a challenging total and came at a good rate, with several of the home side’s overs being hit for double figures. Khan favoured shots into the leg side, flicking several full balls on his pads to the boundary with ease and Farooq also got involved in the boundary hitting, striking 6 fours in total during his innings of 30. In the 30th over with the score on 141, a double blow by the hosts brought them back into the game. First Farooq missed a perfect ball that clattered into the top of off-stump before Naveed Piran, fresh from his top score for Arthington of 75 the previous week lasted just three balls before being given out LBW, after some initial confusion, as it seemed that he may also have been run out at the same time.
The new batsman Ahmer Sadiq played a backseat role to begin with while Khan remained at the crease and the score continued to mount. Khan had reached 40 in the 33rd over and had already taken the Killinghall bowler for two boundaries but had eyes on one more. Instead, his high shot towards long-off was well-held by the fielder to leave Arthington in a spot of bother with six wickets down and twelve overs still left to bat. Khan’s fine innings was the highest score of the match and contained 5 fours and a six.
As the Arthington innings drew to a close, Sadiq combined well with Rahul Khode, though the scoring rate had slowed significantly from its earlier high. The pair made 29 between them before Khode was given out caught behind, though he was not too happy with this decision and stood at the crease in disbelief for several seconds before trudging off, having apparently not hit the ball. Andrew Dowson struck a glorious drive through the covers for his first boundary and was looking in reasonable touch until another decision that sparked debate was made when he was adjudged to be LBW despite the ball flicking him high up on his back thigh, surely missing the bails.
This turned out to be the beginning of a swift end to the Arthington innings, as Akash Hazra fell to another LBW decision the very next ball and though Luke Seaborne survived the hat-trick ball and struck the penultimate ball of the over well down the ground, it deflected off the bowler’s boot and looped into the air. Seaborne charged towards the non-striker’s end for the single that was very much on offer, yet Sadiq was unmoved, despite the pleas from the Arthington number eleven urging him to run. However, run he did not and the two batsmen found themselves comically at the same end: one of the easier run outs that Killinghall will have affected, for certain. Arthington made 202 all out in their first innings, setting the hosts 203 at just over 4.5 runs per over for victory.
In reply, Killinghall’s opening batsmen also began with a fair degree of caution and at the start of the 13th over had only accumulated 24 runs, thanks largely to the tight bowling of Naveed Piran and Umar Farooq, both of whom had beaten the bat on numerous occasions early on. Something had to give and it was Piran who eventually made the first breakthrough. The home side’s opener couldn’t quite keep out a full, straight ball and only redirected it onto the stumps.
The required rate continued to climb as the innings approached the halfway stage though the batsmen were attempting to do something about it against the change bowling of off-spinner Rahul Khode. However, shortly before drinks the home side’s number three struck a ball high into the air towards cow corner. Naveed Piran did extremely well to see the ball coming out of the bright sun, let alone catch it, but he did just that to give Arthington their second wicket with an over to go before drinks.
With the very next ball after the interval, Khode took another wicket, this time all of his own making. A full ball was bludgeoned by the batsman, aiming down the ground, but he found Khode in the way, who took a sharp catch off his own bowling. The fall of two quick wickets did not quite have the effect that Arthington had hoped for, however, as the Killinghall middle order proved themselves more than handy with the willow.
Khode was withdrawn after his short yet successful spell and was replaced by Farooq, who nearly caused a wicket with his first ball back, when the ball was edged through a vacant first slip position for a boundary, but did take the fourth scalp, his first, with the very next delivery, delightfully pinning back the off-stump. Five overs and 16 runs later, Farooq picked up his second wicket, this time with the aid of a good, low catch by Akash Hazra square of the wicket and the home side’s task became a bit more difficult.
With nine overs to go, Killinghall still needed 70 runs to win and had only half of their wickets remaining. Naveed Piran had finished his overs having returned for an economical second spell, as had Farooq; both bowlers finished with impressive figures, despite the wicket column not looking as well-populated as the previous week.
Arthington’s captain Naveed Andrabi was already deep into his spell and he brought on Luke Seaborne to complete the overs from the other end. Seaborne began poorly, effectively conceding seven runs from the first ball by virtue of a well-struck four down the ground and several leg side wides, yet he recovered well and was unfortunate to see a chance fall short of cover and a top-edge sail for six high over the wicketkeeper’s head in his second over.
Andrabi made the next breakthrough when Zain Muhammad held onto a high catch at long-on to dismiss the home side’s number five batsman, who had batted nicely and relatively briskly for his 24. In the next over, Seaborne also took a wicket, as Naveed Piran held onto his second catch of the game. Having run in from the long-on boundary, he almost ran too far but managed to stop himself in time to take the catch smartly above his head.
30 runs were required from the final three overs and Andrabi and Seaborne both conceded only seven apiece from the next two, meaning 16 were required from the final over. There was also time for a run out as Sajid Hussain calmly threw the ball to Seaborne behind the stumps to take off the bails after the off-strike batsman had reconsidered an attempted single but then found himself marginally short of his ground in trying to get back.
Andrabi conceded a single and a four from the first two balls of the game’s final over, which made things interesting and kept the throng of boisterous spectators that had gathered from far and wide engaged. Tighter bowling followed and after three hastily-run singles, once off the bat and twice off the pads, the match was Arthington’s, provided Andrabi neither overstepped the bowling crease nor bowled a wide. It was of little consequence to Arthington’s players, therefore, when the ball was sliced away wide of third-man for a boundary, as this meant the match had been won by three runs and the 1st XI had sealed their promotion into the first division of the Nidderdale league.
Things would get even better for Arthington, however, once news reached them of Alne’s defeat against Whixley, meaning they had sufficient margin at the top of the table to be crowned champions with a game to spare. A remarkable achievement from the team who were in division six in 2015.
Next week, the 1st XI will travel to Studley Royal to play their final fixture of the 2021 season.
Arthington 2nd XI are division seven champions after
At the ACG, the 2nd XI had their own chance at clinching the championship to consider, though, unlike the 1st XI, the outcome did not also depend on any results from elsewhere. Their opponents were Rainton, against whom they had already recorded a 9-wicket victory in July, so confidence was high.
The away side won the toss and Arthington found themselves batting first, not something that is usually their strength, yet you would have thought otherwise given the assured way that Jo Nash and Umer Khan got things started. By the 23rd over, the score had reached 100/0 as both Arthington batsmen approached fifty.
Unfortunately, neither half-century materialised as first Nash was run out for 48 having been called through by his batting partner for an impossible single and then Khan was caught for 44 soon after. The 2nd XI’s batting line-up had been strengthened by the return of Alex O’Neil, who joined Vince Greaves-Newall at the crease. Both of the new batsmen had scored unbeaten centuries in their previous matches and were looking to continue their good form and both made healthy contributions to a 57-run partnership before O’Neil lost his wicket for 26 when he missed a straight ball that cannoned into the stumps.
In the latter stages of the innings, Greaves-Newall was joined by Gareth Meredith, Mohammad Faiyazuddin and finally Martin Dickinson but only the 2nd XI’s top scorer made significant runs, finishing on 45 not out, as the score moved from 170/3 to 202/5 at the end of the 40 overs.
Arthington were rightly confident of defending such a formidable score and the bowling innings began well when both Rainton openers were dismissed via a run out by Umer Khan before Joe Seaborne disturbed the stumps with a little help from the away side’s batsman. In recent weeks, Martin Hings’ economical bowling spells had not been rewarded with the many wickets they deserved, but he made up for it here as he tore through the Rainton middle order in no time, all while barely conceding a run.
First to fall was the Rainton number three who played the ball straight to Vince Greaves-Newall in his preferred position under the batsman’s nose. A straight ball on the stumps brought about the demise of the next man at the crease for Hings’ second scalp before a quick two-wicket burst took the score from 55/4 to 55/6, all but settling the match as a contest. Arthington’s wicketkeeper Dave Howard was able to take a good catch behind the stumps off a deflection before Hings completed a fine afternoon’s work by hitting the timbers once more.
There was still one obstacle in the way of Arthington’s ambitions, that of the Rainton number four batsman who, when not watching his teammates fall one by one at the other end, was batting nicely and had hit Joe Seaborne for several boundaries through the off side. This had prompted an earlier change from Martin Dickinson, which eventually brought its reward as Vince Greaves-Newall expertly dismantled the Rainton tail.
Once again, Dave Howard was in among the dismissals, taking another impressive catch while stood up to the stumps before some genius-level captaincy from Martin Dickinson took care of another wicket. Having just moved the fielder from cow corner, the Arthington captain was no doubt delighted to see the very next ball sail perfectly into Alex O’Neil’s hands at deep mid-wicket. Now deep into the Rainton lower order, Joe Seaborne returned for a second spell and completed his brace for the match with a clean bowled.
Still 119 runs short of Arthington’s score and with one wicket remaining, the task was too much for Rainton’s top scorer, though he was able to score a few more runs and reach an excellent fifty that included 7 fours and a six. It still required a little bit of magic in the field to dismiss him, however, when Gareth Meredith charged in from the boundary at long-on to take a catch just centimetres from the ground. A stunning take and fitting that it should end the match and crown Arthington as the division seven champions.
Both Arthington teams, therefore, were able to win their division with a match to spare after a remarkable campaign which has seen both sides only lose on two occasions. The 1st XI had been neck and neck with Killinghall for most of the season but eased ahead sufficiently in the most recent two fixtures to gain an unassailable lead. Though the 2nd XI’s eventual triumph from their lofty perch at the top of division seven was a safer bet several weeks ago, it only became a mathematical certainty after the win in the penultimate game.
Both sides will be breaking new ground in divisions one and six next season. In 2015 Arthington’s 1st XI were champions of division six themselves and to have reached division one in the space of only six seasons is a fine achievement. The 2nd XI are also going from strength to strength and will look to build on their fantastic form of this season in the next, all while enjoying new grounds and new opponents.
Next week, the 2nd XI will play their final match of the season at the ACG against Knaresborough Forest.
As ever, Arthington Cricket Club owes a huge debt of gratitude to Ken Clayton and Malcolm Barraclough for scoring the 1st and 2nd XI matches respectively.
The club would also like to thank this week’s match ball sponsors for their support and generosity.
1st XI match ball sponsor: Malcolm Barraclough
2nd XI match ball sponsor: Mohammed Faiyazuddin