Fielding the difference as Arthington lose ground on leaders

Arthington 1st XI’s only previous visit to Killinghall had seen them secure a narrow victory to all but seal the 2nd division title in the penultimate match of the 2021 season. Since then, however, their 2022 season has faltered and seen them lose three matches to the solitary defeat of their opponents which has seen last season’s runners up rise to the top of the division one table in the lead-up to this latest encounter.

After some inexplicable confusion, a car load of Arthington’s players had attended their cup match at Upper Wharfedale a day early causing them to arrive late to Killinghall, so it was fortunate that Arthington’s captain Naveed Andrabi won the toss, though he had no real choice in batting first as a result.

Arthington’s opening pair of Sajid Hussain and Umar Farooq started slowly, though the latter saw himself facing little of the Killinghall bowling as he would score singles from the first or second balls of most overs to become a spectator from the non-striker’s end. The rate of two runs per over was down partly to a refusal to take risks in the early stages, failure to put away some bad balls and some excellent fielding from the home side, which would be consistent throughout the first innings.

The pressure eventually told as Hussain played the ball directly to point but set off for a single nonetheless. Farooq, keen to get back on strike, did not turn down the run, but a pinpoint throw by the fielder and a fast pick-up from the wicketkeeper spelt out the opener’s doom as he was comfortably run out. Naveed Andrabi was then the victim of a poor umpiring decision after being given out caught behind despite the ball passing some distance from his outside edge; Arthington’s skipper was forced to depart for a duck.

Rahul Khode joined Hussain at the crease, but neither seemed intent on increasing the scoring rate, survival being more on their minds. But for a 14-run over as the game moved towards drinks, the rate would have been well below two runs per over as the hosts forced Arthington’s batsmen to fight for every run. With his first real aggressive shot of the match, Hussain’s attempted straight drive over the infield only found mid-off and worsened the away side’s position in the match.

Things got worse still for Arthington after drinks when the loss of two quick wickets exposed the lower order much earlier than they would have liked. Khode’s stay at the crease was ended by a straight ball that he missed, consequently clattering into the stumps and Akash Hazra departed without scoring, after a superb catch was held at mid-off; the fielder performed a full-length dive and managed to place two hands around the ball as he met the ground once again. Little blame can be attached to Hazra for this dismissal, as he had played what had appeared to be a fantastic shot for four until the exceptional intervention.

With the innings in serious need of rescue, Naveed Piran and Kamrosh Khan put on their lifejackets and waded into the stormy surf to prevent it from going under. Piran who had earlier combined briefly with Khode and Hazra had been fairly docile by his usual standards, but the tight bowling had stifled his normal aggressive approach. Khan played the role of the aggressor and blasted several boundaries through his favourite mid-wicket area but also played some more elegant shots through the off side, moving quickly to 27 before he was deceived by a slower ball full toss that he returned, limply to the bowler for a simple catch; it was an unfortunate way to go.

Alex O’Neil joined the rescue effort on his life boat and his first eight scoring shots were all boundaries. Ordinarily preferring to clear the ropes as opposed to just crossing them, it was a surprise to some of his teammates that the maximums had eluded him, but his hard clubs wide of mid-on were still hard to stop and helped the Arthington cause considerably. He combined with Piran for a seventh wicket partnership of 59, quickly overtaking him in the scoring as he took a shine to the Killinghall bowling like few before him.

It was the fall of Piran’s wicket that finally broke the entertaining partnership after he attempted to join in the fun and was caught. The Arthington batsmen were being given no chances once the ball went aerial towards a Killinghall fielder. With O’Neil still at the crease, there was talk of targeting 200 runs, which seemed within reach if the Arthington batsman’s impressive rate of scoring had continued. It could not last, however, and he was bowled shortly after Piran’s dismissal having played a pull shot to a ball that skidded through and hit the top of off-stump.

Umer Khan then lofted a shot straight to mid-on in the following over before Luke Seaborne and Andrew Dowson pinched a few singles before the innings was ended prematurely with seven balls still to be bowled, as Seaborne edged behind to the wicketkeeper. Arthington all out for 165.

Clearly, the visitors would have liked more runs to defend, but with a decent bowling and fielding display, a win still felt within reach. However, shortly after the resumption of play in the second innings, it was clear that the away side’s fielding was likely to be their downfall as mis fields plagued the opening overs.

There was early optimism, however, when Naveed Piran knocked back the left-handed Killinghall opener’s leg-stump with only the second ball of the innings. The Arthington opening bowler repeated the feat in his fourth over as well, bowling a beauty that the batsmen could not keep out. Yet the third wicket partnership took the score from 31/2 to 111/3 and though the runs did not come much quicker than three per over, it did not necessarily need to at that stage. The batsmen were content to defend well and pick out the bad ball of which there were several.

The home side’s Ed Paxton looked crestfallen when he was dismissed playing back to Naveed Andrabi for a caught and bowled, having reached 48 runs, his side’s top score, narrowly missing out on a half-century. The next dismissal, albeit eight overs and 24 runs later was similar, as Killinghall’s overseas all-rounder played a shot completely out of character with the rest of his innings, failed to clear mid-off and was caught by Umar Farooq to give Rahul Khode a wicket.

For the visitors, only Andrabi had bowled with any measure of real control with the rest of the bowlers all conceding more than four runs per over, a rate that was easily going to allow the hosts to reach the target. Each boundary late in proceedings was greeted with cheers from the growing crowd of onlookers who seemed particularly amused every time a fielder was moved to fill a gap, despite identical tactics being employed by the home side once they had figured out where an Arthington batsman was likely to hit the ball.

The Killinghall middle order ensured that the Arthington total was reached in plenty of time and at the loss of no further wickets with the final runs being struck for four to fine leg after a second successive short ball from Naveed Piran proved much less effective than the first; the batsman was already on the back foot expecting a similar delivery.

Though the hosts only had 3.2 overs to spare when they reached the target, it had been a long while since it could be said that they were not in control of the match, having played sensibly throughout their batting innings, fielded impressively and bowled accurately. The win increases their lead at the top of division one but sees Arthington drop to fifth place following their fourth defeat in the first nine matches. All three elements of their game were found wanting in this contest and had at least one of them been at the high standards they set then they may have had a better chance in the match.

Next week, the 1st XI travel to Helperby. Arthington is grateful, as ever, for their scorer Ken Clayton whose insight and encouragement is just as valuable as the generous offering of his time.





Final wicket pair come good to save Arthington’s bacon

After their last outing against a possible promotion rival in Upper Wharfedale, Arthington’s 2nd XI could have been forgiven for expecting a more straightforward fixture against a winless and bottom of the table Burton Leonard. However, what they got was probably their toughest match of the season, discounting their sole defeat several games prior. But for a significant final wicket stand, defeat had seemed a certainty for Arthington at the ACG in a fantastic advert for the lower tiers of the Nidderdale league.

Arthington were missing several regular members of their 2nd XI, most importantly their captain Martin Hings. Dave Howard took over as skipper for the day and his afternoon started poorly when he lost the toss, though he may well have opted to field first anyway, as the visitors opted to play to their strength with the bat in the first innings.

The opening bowlers of Joe Seaborne and Martin Finn were unable to make an early breakthrough with their bowling, though it was Seaborne who brought about the first wicket with a run out, throwing smartly from cover point to Dave Howard who removed the bails with the opening batsman short of his crease. The second wicket came about much more quickly, as Andrew Stoddart’s cunning bowling arm was too much for Burton Leonard’s number three who was bowled without adding to the score.

Though the away side’s partnerships were all significant after that point, it benefitted Arthington that they were able to break them before they became overly troublesome. 26 runs after taking his first wicket, Stoddart removed the bails and the remaining opener in the process to take his second wicket and make the score 65/3.

44 more runs were added for the fourth wicket before Martin Finn was the beneficiary of some more smart keeping by the stand-in skipper behind the stumps who took a catch behind. The innings was drawing to a close as a healthy stand was developing once again between two of the away side’s batsmen until Vince Greaves-Newall’s unusually quiet afternoon was interrupted by knocking the stumps over for his only wicket, having managed 13 scalps in his last three games.

As expected at the end of the innings, the visitors managed a few boundaries in their final few overs with Dougie Jones the unfortunate victim on the scorecard as his two death overs went for 21 in total. Burton Leonard secured maximum batting points before the end, finishing on 177/5 from their 40 overs.

The chase looked likely to be problematic at the interval and it became more so once Andrew Stoddart had been caught behind after only three balls. Yet the setback had little effect on his fellow opening batsman, Gareth Meredith, who raced to 32 in only 27 balls, including seven fours and got the Arthington innings off to a fast start in the process. Unfortunately, brimming with confidence as he was, he played an ill-advised shot at a straight ball and was bowled to make the score 54/2.

Vince Greaves-Newall then increased his contribution to 29 runs in his brief stand with Malcolm Barraclough. Having already struck 5 fours he was eyeing up a sixth but was instead caught by a Burton Leonard fielder at mid-wicket playing a shot that should probably have ended up on the off side instead. Inspiration presents itself in many guises but few expected the outgoing batsman to leave such a lasting impact on his partner that he would repeat his dismissal shortly after, picking out the same mid-wicket fielder off a full toss from the same bowler.

Though they still had plenty of time to spare, Arthington found themselves four wickets down before they had reached the halfway point of the chase but were given fresh belief by Mohammad Faiyazuddin with 29 steady runs and a more gung-ho approach by their newest recruit Tameem Wani, who was keen to try out several bats in his innings. It was an approach that ultimately brought about his downfall when he was bowled, which sparked a minor collapse of the Arthington middle order as Faiyazuddin was given out LBW shortly afterwards and Joe Seaborne edged to slip without scoring.

Arthington’s number seven for this match was Martin Finn, batting in a slightly unfamiliar position, not that you could tell as he held the remnants of the home side’s innings together while the rest of the batting order did the Hokey Cokey to and from the pavilion; the score went from 140/7 to 140/9 in the space of a few balls as both Akhil Adulla and Dave Howard were dismissed.

Before reaching the conclusion of this riveting tale, it is well worth mentioning the bowling efforts of Burton Leonard’s Julien Baker, who picked up six Arthington wickets in total and had been the chief catalyst in the home side’s would-be demise. And a demise it would surely be as the final pairing of Martin Finn and Dougie Jones were brought together, still 38 runs away from victory. The only thing on their side was a considerable number of overs as Arthington had at least scored quickly as well as precariously.

Yet try as they might, the visitors were unable to dislodge either of the two tailenders and as the overs crept along so did the runs. Finn was the main run-scorer and struck six boundaries in total, to various parts of the ground, but Jones’ contribution cannot be understated in getting his partner back on strike with a number of singles and helping himself to a boundary as well during the entertaining conclusion.

Clearly without the clear and present danger of the situation in his mind, Finn ended the contest with the only six of the innings over long-on and snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat for Arthington, not for the first time this season. The innings was ended after 35.4 overs with the winning score 179/9.

A remarkable game needs two teams and after the initial shock and disbelief wears off, Burton Leonard can be proud of how they performed in this contest. It is hard to believe that the same side that ran the league leaders so close to the wire find themselves without a win in nine games. Arthington’s 2nd XI must again ask questions of their top and middle order as though several starts were made, nobody went on to score big runs. Perhaps a move up the order for their latest batting hero is in store.

Next weekend, the 2nd XI take on third placed Knaresborough Forest at home and have a chance to really distance themselves from the chasing pack.

Thanks to Elizabeth Nash for providing the teas at the ACG.

The club would also like to thank the match ball sponsors for their support and generosity.

1st XI match ball sponsor: Ken Clayton

2nd XI match ball sponsor: Vince and Jude Greaves-Newall