Toothless Milford Bowling Fail To Back Up Maiden Ton
By John Richardson
Another poor bowling performance looses us the game after an excellent first century for Alex Ward.
Recently scoring runs hasn’t been a problem for the South Milford 1st team, over 300 against Kippax and regularly 200+ home and away but defending totals and bowling out teams certainly has. The bowling has become a shadow of last seasons. We cannot seem to keep pressure on teams and generate wickets. Only one bowler has 20+ wickets and sadly they are on the sick bench and not back till next season.
This has seen Milford slip down the table since the second half of the season has got underway. This week would be a good test as we were playing the return fixture against Rufforth. They were the team we drew against at home in a game which we came away feeling we had pinched a result out of it.
A few changes from last week’s team, a 2/3rds reduction in the Bramley quota as we only had James with us today. Skipper Paul Hebden away on his jollies so Peter Batty took over the mantle. Stuart Morley was back from his European vacation. He had been to Disney World in Paris, BUT the rumor that he was holiday cover for Goofy is untrue.
The summer heatwave was continuing and the Rufforth ground was surprisingly green but very, very hard. Bright, sunny and very warm. This made the scorer flee for a bit of cover to avoid turning into a lobster by game end.
A good start to the match was the news England had wrapped up the win in the 1st test match against India at Edgebaston and that Pete had won the toss and decided to have a bat.
Our now usual opening partnership of Stu Morley and Alex Ward took the field and made a very steady start. If the ball got past the fielding cordon then it was an almost guaranteed boundary, the outfield been so hard and fast. It wasn’t till we approached the first drinks break that the run rate started to pick up. For the third time this season Stu & Alex put on 50, Alex been the more attacking of the pair, a couple of big sixes helping his score.
Not long after that milestone Stu was given out LBW. Now many of you may say ‘What a surprise’ but this season this is only the 2nd time he has lost his wicket in this fashion in 10 innings. With Stu gone it brought the mouth watering prospect of Alex & Ben White batting together. The expected fireworks never materialized as Rufforth’s veteran spinner, Jim Ledgeway, seemed to tie both youngsters in knots.
Jim is a very frustrating bowler for a batsmen. He looks like he should be easy to smash to all corners but is lack of pace and nagging line & length makes him difficult to get on top off. A batsmen needs to have patience and many many have perished getting to the end of their tether and trying to smash him out of the attack. Ben became Jim’s 19th victim of the season when he played too early to a ball only to get a leading edge which ballooned back to Jim.
Ben has been the lynch pin of our batting this season, his two centuries putting him on top of the league batting stats, but today Alex played the leading role. He reached his 2nd fifty of the season off 71 balls and started to accelerate. Apart from Ledgeway the other Rufforth bowlers were finding it hard going the ball rocketing to the boundary with increasingly regularity. The Milford run rate really picked up when Joe Barr joined Alex at the crease.
Together these two put on just short of 130 runs for the 4th wicket. This partnership given both batsmen two milestones, Joe scoring his first 1st team fifty off 41 balls with 8 fours. For once his parents spectating didn’t jinx him. Alex out did him claiming his first century for the 1st team. He really put his foot down as the innings progressed, the 2nd fifty coming in just 20 balls and as the innings closed he finished undefeated on 136, our highest score of the season.
Foot down might be a very appropriate term as towards the end of the innings Alex managed to smack the ball into his own foot which would go onto cause us problems later on. Alex & Joe put 101 runs in the last 10 overs to give us 244 to defend.
Very nice teas from Rufforth, lots of things to choose from. The red onion in the wraps proved to be a long lasting taste sensation. Not sure how much of the cakes were home baked but very nice they were regardless. The football team after practice chili con carne with jacket potato looked nice but I bet Man City don’t have that.
Well when the highlights of the second innings are the return of Jonny Barr to 1st team cricket and Matty Paul’s post catch celebrations you get the hint that things didn’t go well. Initially things seemed to be going well Steve Winspear and Joe Raynor opening the attack, both collecting a wicket in their opening spells. Joe’s another spectacular Matty Paul catch, this one coming over his shoulder as he turned and ran back towards long on. Matty will be certainly in the highlights reel this season.
The warning signs were out though as the runs were flowing, Rufforth well up with the required run rate. The wheels started to come off Milford’s wagon when after his 7th over Winnie’s achilles cried enough and gave a twang. This the signal to see Steve hobble off for the rest of the game and thanks to the sportsmanship of Rufforth see Jonny Barr come on as 12th man. None of the Rufforth players fancied another 5 overs of fielding – cheers lads, not voting for you lot for sportsmanship awards.
A little later things took another twist when Alex Ward had to hand the wicket keeping gloves to Stu Morley as his foot was now giving him lots of jip. The rest of the game saw him limping around the field trying to avoid the ball, still he was quicker than Jonny Booker !!!!
Rufforth’s Cam Sanderson started to take control of the game and together with Phil Charlton started to dominate the Milford bowling. Not that it was too difficult a task as none of the bowlers, James Bramley, Dan Ward or Ben White could seem to avoid bowling 2 or 3 buffet balls per over.
Line & length seemed to be impossible to maintain and the Rufforth pair made hay in the sunshine. They put on 152 runs for the 3rd wicket with Charlton scoring 61. Sanderson fell tantalizing close to a century holeing out to Ben White. A shame as his innings certainly deserved it.
James Bramley did claim 3 wickets in his 12 over spell but it didn’t really stop Rufforth’s march to the finish. The best of the bowlers turned out to be Matty Paul who was brought on 5th change when Pete was getting desperate. His opening 4 overs conceding just 10 runs.
Rufforth passed our total with 4 overs to spare and with now our two best bowlers in the treatment room our prospects for the rest of the season look bleak. We are really going to have to bat our socks off to make up for this toothless bowling attack we currently have. Perhaps a shake up in the team is required, maybe some 2nd team faces should be brought in, they can hardly do much worse.
Next week sees us take on Garforth PC, the league leaders, and James Stockton will be licking his lips at the prospect of getting another big score against us. His 111 not out this week putting him back in front of our Ben in the league top runs scorers. Could be a run fest in prospect, better bring plenty of spare balls…...
"We must have had 99 per cent of the match. It was the other three per cent that cost us." - Ruud Gullit