Champagne Cricket By Milford
The best team performance of the season saw Milford crush Scarcroft
There are some teams and venues that you just don't like, for whatever reason. Not everyone will have the same clubs & grounds but for myself Scarcroft is one of them. Possibly because I have to suffer a bit of alfresco scoring (that means outdoor Sam) is one reason and perhaps the fact we always used to get a good thumping there is another. Remember Carl Brisset anyone ?
Funny enough we seemed to be their bogey team recently. When they visited the Swan Croft earlier in the season we beat them by 5 wickets and only allowed them to score 130.
Though we did win last week against Rufforth I think it is fair to say we have struggled in the league recently.
We brought a couple of promising 2nd teamers this week, Peter Batty & Dan White, to replace Martin Bramley and Billy Thompson also Alex Ward was back to reclaim the keepers gloves with Harry Jackson preferring to go to the mud festival, sorry music, at Bramham.
Unbelievably skipper Paul Hebden won the toss for the third week running. A difficult decision this week as it had been raining heavily just before we arrived. Then just to compound it Scarcroft decided to bring the roller out onto it for 10 mins just to bring the moisture back to the surface. I must admit I have never seen the ground look so scratty. Normally it looks one of the best in the Wetherby League but today it looked like it hadn't been touched for weeks.
After a long discussion between our top cricket brains (Paul, Pete & Stu) it was decided to have a bat. The rolling might make the pitch a bit dead for bowling early on which we might capitalize on.
The plan was to open with the same pairing as last week, Stuart Morley & Sean Nesbitt, but when Sean got lost on his way to the ground skipper Paul had to move onto plan B. Sean was finally coxed to the ground, been talked in by phone. A scene very similar to the movie Airport.
So the unfamiliar pairing of skipper Paul Hebden & Dan White opened the Milford innings. Paul has been sacrificing himself a lot this year so others could get a bat so it was nice to see him getting a chance higher up the order. The wicket proved to be much less of a minefield than it looked but the outfield was slower than normal so scoring was steady. After 10 overs we were 39 without loss but looking well set.
Scarcroft replaced their opening bowlers and the change proved to be the key they needed, Dan falling to Bilal Shahid in only his second over. According to Dan the ball pitched on leg and took the off. Still his 25 runs saw him reaching the milestone of 1,000+ runs in the season for the 1st team in all competitions. Well done Dan.
Paul soon followed him and when Ben White, in at three, was out after his customery blast, things looked a bit bleak. This time Ben scored 27 off 26 balls, 3 fours & 2 sixes. Ben's innings this season may be brief but they are lively.
When Stu Morley was out for just 1 it looked we may be in for an early bath (Eddie Waring – Sam ask your Dad). Again Stu was bowled, whats up Stu, have you forgotten what your front pad is for ? Your dad was at the other end so you would have been safe.
Sean Nesbitt was in at 5, fortunately not needing directions to the wicket, and with Joe Barr changed the course of the match in our favor. Both are excellent at running between the wickets and their constant collecting of singles and twos really got under Scarcroft's skin.
Once again Sean was majestic in his ground strokes, though he rode his luck whenever he went aerial. Dropped three times on his way to his second half century in two matches he for sure was a lucky lad. Scarcroft's West Indian, Larry Audain, certainly felt Sean's power when he smacked one straight to him at deep cover. The ball going straight in then out again.
Joe Barr was no stooge in this partnership scoring his best total of the season with the first team, 44. The pair put on 104 for the 5th wicket to take us well on our way to a +200 total. Their fine hitting and running demoralised Scarcroft. At one stage the Scarcroft keeper even missed a simple run out chance from less than 6 feet so scrambled were their heads.
Sadly Joe just failed to get a well deserved 50 when called for a second suicidal run by Sean. That produced Sean's second fine of the day. Typically his Dad Jonathan arrived just afterwards missing seeing the excellent partnership.
Alex Ward was given a license to have a swing. Never mind Alex, your obviously no Benny Goodman (Sam, ask your Grandad.....)
Sean was finally out for another 55 with five overs remaining and Pete Batty along with Steve Winspear saw us through to the close, finishing on 215 for 7. Steve once again gaining a red inker to further improve his batting average. Must admit I never thought we would get that score when I arrived and saw the wicket and then when we were in trouble when four down for just 82. The Sean/Joe partnership been a real game changer.
Teas weren't the worst I have ever had but will not remain in the memory for long, you didn't want to go back for a second plate which was just as well as there was nothing left.
During our innings the sky had cleared and it had turned into a lovely afternoon. The weather obviously forgetting it was bank holiday, the Leeds Festival & a Headingly test match. The scorer, by the second innings, was hiding his legs under the desk to stop them turning into something resembling a flamingo (Sam, ask Bill Oddie)
Buoyed by our excellent batting performance Milford took the field. Steve Winspear & Dan White opened the bowling and soon had Scarcroft under pressure. Opener Simon Smith really set his team off on the wrong foot by persistently blocking out the over then stealing strike on the 5th or 6th ball. This really put the pressure on his batting partners to keep the run rate at something half decent. When he was finally bowled by Joe Raynor he had scored just 9 runs off 54 balls and the total was 30 for 3 off 16 overs.
If Scarcroft's catching had been poor Milford was the complete opposite. It seemed we couldn't drop them today. Alex Ward claimed his 23rd catch of the season behind the stumps,Peter Batty caught a blinder & Ben White added another two to his tally. But best of the lot was Paul Hedden's.
West Indian Larry Auding was having a day to forget. After dropping Sean Nesbitt in the field he failed to claim any wickets when bowling and conceded 27 runs off his 5 overs. Also he had Sean dropped off his bowling which was a bit ironic. His day got worse when he batted as he skied one of Joe Raynor's deliveries and found the safe hands of skipper Paul Hebden who rushed in from cow corner. The celebrations that followed showed how dangerous we all thought Auding was as a batsmen.
It was the turn of Milford's youngsters to claim the bowling honors this week. Joe Raynor and James Bramley sweeping through the Scarcroft middle order and tail. From 30 for 3 they collapsed to 58 all out inside 29 overs. James only been denied his first 5 wicket haul for the first team by Sean Nesbitt. Is that another fine ?
What a fantastic team performance. If we had played like this all year we would have been pushing for a top 3 finish. Still we have two of our 3 remaining matches against the bottom 2 teams so we may well finish the season well up.
Time for another glass of Presscco then (Sam, if you don't know what that is ask your mother)
I must apologise if this report has been a bit rambling as it was helped along by a couple a glasses of a rather excellent Merlot.