Tight game goes the way of the visitors as Arthington taste
A fine run of recent results came to an end for the 1st XI at the weekend as Whixley, the better side on the day, claimed victory in a tense finish at the ACG.
Having won the toss, Arthington captain Naveed Andrabi had no hesitation in electing to bat first; a formula which had been advantageous to the home side in recent weeks and indeed against Whixley in the season’s earlier meeting between the two teams, in which Arthington secured a 115-run victory.
The now familiar opening partnership of Sajid Hussain and Umar Farooq began confidently until the sixth over when Farooq edged the ball behind to be easily caught by the Whixley wicketkeeper. Things immediately got worse for the home side when regular batting talisman Naveed Andrabi re-enacted Farooq’s dismissal from the very next ball to leave Arthington 21/2: a rare failure for the Arthington skipper. Rafiullah Khan joined Hussain at the crease and the pair repaired some of the early damage by means of a 43-run partnership, until Khan was controversially given out LBW by the umpire, the ball appearing to be drifting down the leg-side.
Ahmer Sadiq was next to enter the arena and, similarly, assisted in the reconstruction of the Arthington innings. His cautious approach meant that Hussain did most of the scoring until, with his first real shot of any aggression, Sadiq hit the ball to the left of mid-off, in the air and was well-caught. After Andrew Dowson had seen his straight drive caught by the Whixley bowler, the score was 103/5 and Arthington were in serious need of a good partnership to give themselves a chance in the match.
Naveed Piran proved to be just the man for the task when he joined the unbeaten Arthington opener at the crease. There was a determination and a calmness in Hussain’s innings and as wickets tumbled around him he remained vigilant and refused to be dismissed. Alongside Piran, the pair accumulated the highest partnership of the innings of 49, before Hussain made his first and only mistake: leaving his ground to meet the Whixley slow left-armer’s delivery, missing the ball and being easily stumped. His terrific innings of 77 held the Arthington innings together and contained 10 fours.
There was still brief hope of a late surge in run-scoring by the hosts with Piran still at the crease and going well. Rahul Khode only managed seven runs before his dismissal, but Akash Hazra came out with a positive mindset and seemed in the mood to score quickly. Unfortunately, at the other end, Piran’s useful 36-run cameo, including 6 boundaries, came to an end when he was caught out and despite a couple of lusty blows from Hazra, including a spectacular hook shot for six over square-leg, the rest of the Arthington tail wilted to leave the hosts all out for 196 in the 39th over.
At the halfway stage, Arthington were still confident of victory, having restricted several opponents to lower scores in recent weeks. However, despite an early wicket for Naveed Piran in the third over, the Whixley reply got off to a flying start as Arthington seemed incapable of lowering a frightening early run-rate. By the end of the ninth over the score had reached 57/1 and Arthington’s captain opted to make a bowling change, bringing on the spin bowling of Rahul Khode at one end and himself at the other.
The changes had an immediate impact as Khode followed up a maiden in his first over with a wicket in his second via an excellent catch by Malcolm Barraclough at short fine-leg, following a mistimed sweep shot by the Whixley opener. Andrabi had also stemmed the flow of runs, although further work was required before the match could swing back in Arthington’s favour. At the 20-over mark, the score was 99/2 and Whixley seemed favourites for victory.
Andrabi, however, had other ideas and took his first wicket of the match via a catch behind by wicketkeeper Andrew Dowson. In his very next over he struck again, removing the Whixley number three, who had batted well for his 40 runs, with an LBW. A mid-over drinks break followed, which interrupted the flow somewhat, but it did nothing to curb Andrabi’s enthusiasm as he took his third wicket of the day straight after the resumption, thanks to an athletic diving catch at short cover by Ahmer Sadiq, to reduce Whixley to 115/5 and give Arthington hope of victory once again.
No sooner had hope been rekindled, than it was snuffed out, as an already topsy-turvy game took another twist in the form of a battling sixth wicket partnership of 53. Yet, just as it seemed as if the game was meandering its way to an undesirable conclusion for the hosts, a piece of fielding brilliance from Akash Hazra at gully set up an enthralling finish. The Whixley captain must have thought that he had steered Naveed Piran’s bouncer for yet another boundary behind square until Hazra leapt to his left to take a superb catch.
The remaining set batsman began to show signs of upping the scoring rate, something that did not go unnoticed by Luke Seaborne who, in the following over, took considerable pace off the ball to induce a lofted drive from the batsman. The ball went straight up in the air and was easily caught by Naveed Andrabi at mid-off. At this stage, with the score at 172/7, it was anyone’s game. There was no doubt that Whixley had the upper hand in terms of the run rate, with plenty of time to accumulate the 25 runs required, but with only three wickets remaining and two new batsmen at the crease, Arthington were equally confident that they could take the wickets.
By virtue of using the pace on offer and a few swings of the bat, the Whixley tail made light work of the challenge and reached the target with 4.5 overs to spare. Arthington will rue the missed opportunities with the bat, particularly the five overs of batting they missed out on, as well as the alarming start they gave Whixley in their reply.
The defeat suddenly makes things extremely close at the top of division two. Arthington and Killinghall are neck and neck in first and second place with only net run rate separating the two sides, while a chasing pack of three more teams are hot on their heels.
Next week the 1st XI host Alne, one of the chasing sides, at the ACG.
Arthington finally beaten as two-year winning run ended
While defeats for the 1st XI could be considered rare, defeats for the Arthington 2nd XI had been becoming unheard of, with their last defeat coming in the final game of the 2019 season. However, all good runs do have to come to an end and Pannal Ash, Arthington’s nearest title rival at the top of division seven, proved to be their undoing in a nail-biting contest at Killinghall.
Rightly confident with his side’s ability with the ball, Arthington captain Martin Dickinson opted to bowl first after winning the toss. Joe Seaborne, Arthington’s bowling prodigy, wasted no time getting into his groove and after a maiden with his first over took wickets in his second, third and fourth overs via a catch by Gareth Meredith, an LBW and a clean bowled, to immediately put Pannal Ash on the back foot.
After a lull of a couple of overs, Seaborne took his fourth wicket when an edge found the bucket hands of Vince Greaves-Newall at gully and Martin Hings was finally rewarded for his economical spell of bowling, with a wicket all of his own making, having had several LBW appeals turned down and a catch dropped.
The arrival of the change bowling has signalled the beginning of the end for the opposition in previous matches, but in this case it sparked a small revival, as Pannal Ash’s middle order tucked into Arthington’s second course. A new, aggressive approach rarely comes without risk, however, and Dougie Jones and Vince Greaves-Newall had soon helped themselves to a brace apiece, each knocking off the bails on one occasion and assisted by catches by Seaborne and impressive newcomer Ben Hings on the other.
All that was left was to wrap things up and, having been brought back on to finish the job, Seaborne did just that: wrapping up another five-fer with a slower ball to end Pannal Ash’s innings. 132 all out after 34 overs.
In reply, the reliable opening partnership of Jo Nash and Umer Khan got the visitors off to the perfect start; they passed fifty without the loss of a wicket and put the 2nd XI in a strong position. However, once one domino falls, the rest tend to follow and so it proved this time around. With the loss of Khan for 25, Vince Greaves-Newall followed soon after and though captain Martin Dickinson hung around with Nash for a short while, when the Arthington opener was given out LBW for an excellent 43, it began another collapse as first Martin Hings was bowled from his very first ball then Dickinson advanced down the wicket only to edge behind to the wicketkeeper.
Once Gareth Meredith had been bowled, the score had reached 80/6 and, with several key batsmen missing for the 2nd XI, things were beginning to look a bit ominous. After another cheap dismissal, Ben Hings walked to the crease at number nine and a glorious cover drive for four off his first ball was a sign of things to come. He played superbly and, perhaps more importantly, intelligently for his 24: understanding the importance of escorting the Arthington tail to the finish line.
Sadly, still several runs short of the target and with batting partners running out, Hings went for one shot too many and was caught at deep cover to end the Arthington innings on 124, just nine runs short of victory in another exciting game that could easily have gone either way.
Next week, the 2nd XI hope to get back to winning ways when they travel to Spofforth.
Arthington Cricket Club wishes to thank Lauren Marshall and Ken Clayton for scoring the 1st and 2nd team matches respectively. It is greatly appreciated.
The club also extends its gratitude to this week’s match ball sponsors for their support and generosity.
1st XI match ball sponsor: Colin Seaborne
2nd XI match ball sponsor: Ken Clayton