Bill & Ben Finish The Season In Style
A 164 Run 4th Wicket Partnership Secures Milford The Win
Last game of the season saw us travel up to Sicklinghall. After last weeks celebration of the 2nd team clinching the 4th division title it felt like the season was all ready over. Even the weather seemed to think that, it felt very back endish. Cool, blustery and with scattered heavy showers all around.
Sicklinghall is never the best ground to visit if the weather is anything but fine, perched on the hill over looking the village it is very exposed. The view is lovely if the visibility is good, the Howardian Hills to the NE and the dales to the west.
Sicklinghall were hit by an arsonist over the winter and have three portacabins on rental to act as their tea room, changing rooms & toilets. Not perfect but a lot better than some other grounds. They even have a garden shed which acts as the score hut.
Though the ground is ontop of a hill it doesn't seem to drain very well and the outfield at the far side was very soft. Both captains agreed to bring the boundary in 10 to 15 yds as a result. There were other areas around which were a bit boggy but the match started on time.
It was not unexpected when skipper Paul Hebden lost the toss and Sicklinghall asked us to bat. A few of the regular 1st team players were missing this week and Sam Thomas came in to replace Milford's premier spinner James Bramley. Huw Oeppen had the big shoes of Stu Morley to fill in for today.
So it was the opening partnership of skipper Paul Hebden and Dan White which took the field. Dan has had a horrible run of form since the halfway point of the season. In the first half he was storming the batting but had only managed to score 126 runs in the second half. He wasn't to finish on a high as once again he edged a ball to the keeper after looking to be settling in.
Paul had survived an early scare when dropped on just 7 but couldn't capitalise on this extra life when he was bowled for 23. Milford looked to be on the ropes when Paul was joined back in the changing room by Joe Barr when he was out for his 2nd duck in two weeks.
The match changed in Milford's favour when Adam Ryszkowski was taken out of the attack. Ben White smacking him for 16 in his last over. Now we have seen Ben do this many times this season but then get out shortly aftewards. Today we saw the Ben of last season, a controlled attack of the bowling. Together with Billy Thompson, who came in at 5, he pushed the score steadily upwards. The hundred reached in the 28th over and the 150 six overs later.
Both batsmen reached half centuries within a ball of each other, Bill taking 67 deliveries and Ben just one less.
Sicklinghall are a unique club, the only division club with just one team. They frequently during the season had to use the player pool to get a full side, even some of our players turned out for them. Despite this they are 2nd in the table. Just shows what a couple of strong players in a team can do for you in the WCL. Garforth PC were snapping at their heels to finish behind Kirk Deighton and I had expected Sicklinghall to really up to win today. Strangely they seemed to take the match as a typical end of season game with nothing to play for and it seemed everyone was going to have a bowl.
With this 'friendly' bowling attack Bill & Ben pushed the score on to 164 then Billy holed out for his best score of the season 60. With 8 overs remaining the rest of the Milford batting was given the freedom to have a crack. Only Ben took advantage and with 3 overs left was closing on his first century of the season. Last year his best knock was the last game of the season, away at Shadwell, so it seems he saves the best till last. Sadly he fell 8 runs short when he gave Matt Hatherly his second catch of the day. Milford then collapsed to 211 all out with 3 balls remaining. Tom Ryszkowski picking up a impressive 4 for 8 off just 2 ½ overs as he cleared out the Milford tail.
A pretty impressive total considering the damp conditions but with a couple of Wood brothers in the Sicklinghall side you never know if that would be enough. The Wood family must look forward to seeing a Milford fixture coming up on the calendar, they always seem to have a good day against us.
I generally seem to write more about the teas than game but I was hard pressed this time. A couple of trays of M&S sandwiches is a pretty poor effort. I think some of the home team had to make do with a bag of crips so the umpires and visitors could have a bit of a tea. At least there was a warm cuppa on offer to ward against the increasing chilly conditions.
To confirm that Sicklinghall were not taking finishing 2nd as an important target their batting order was drawn out of a hat. This meant the dangerous Andy Wood was last man !!!
Dan White & Steve Winspear as usual opened the bowling and both claimed a wicket. Joe Raynor replaced Dan and though getting a bit of stick in his first over he improved his line & length and his 3rd over got keeper Alex Ward his 27th catch of the season.
Milford had their catching gloves on today an all but one chance stuck. Billy claiming two, the first a real stunner. Dan White also produced a highlight reel catch when lightning reflexes dismissed Phil Wood.
Matt Hetherly was the only Sicklinghall batsmen to offer much resistance, a 38 ball half century. Dan Ward and Sam Thomas picked up 3 wickets apiece to finish the innings. Always in the back of my mind was that Andy Wood was last man in and if he found himself with a half competent partner could threaten our total.
Thankfully Andy was left last man standing when Alex Ward finally managed to collect his first stumping of the season. Well worth the wait and Sicklinghall were very perplexed when the rest of the Milford team pilled ontop of Alex in celebration. The Sicklinghall batsmen stumped walked off muttering 'Anyone would think I was Joe Root with that....'
So Milford finish the 2017 season on a high. We have matched our best ever finish in Division 1 with 5th place having won 11 games, having 1 tie and 2 washed out. We won the Fred Fleetwood Cup and Alex Ward has finished as the top wicket keeper in Division 1.
Thanks for all of you who have read these reports and I will now go and have a big drink and a long sit down looking forward to the 2018 season. If it is half as enjoyable as 2017 then it will be well worth the wait. Thanks Lads.....