Milford’s Bowling Attack Finally Comes Good.
By John Richardson
Weeks in the waiting but we finally bowl out a team.
To say we have had a poor start to the 2nd half of the season is something of an understatement. So far we have only won 1 game and that was the one that Ledsham conceded on the Saturday of the England World Cup quarter final. The batting has not been a problem, we have regularly getting 220+ and even scored over 300 against Kippax. It is the bowling where we are letting ourselves down, not only are we unable to bowl sides out but trying to protect decent scores seems beyond us at present.
So with this in mind it was with some trepidation that we greeted the arrival of current league leaders Garforth Parish Church this Saturday. Some good news was that they were missing some of their star players. James Stockton, Garforth’s star batsmen, had a broken foot and the dangerous Jame Baldwin was also absent. Good news indeed, Stockton was neck and neck with our Ben White at the top of run scorers for Division 1 and scored 87 against us in the first game.
In response to our poor form the team had been shaken up a bit, Harry Jackson had been brought in from the 2nd team to replace the misfiring Dan Ward. Harry having found a bit of form with both ball & bat for the 2nds. Peter Batty was back with Stu Morley dropping to the second team. Also back in the team after his summer hols was our Aussie all rounder Sean Nesbitt. A welcome return as his accurate medium pace would bolster the bowling and his lively batting would only strengthen our middle order.
The fantastic summer weather was continuing for another week and the Swan Croft was bathed in sunshine, a nice warm afternoon with just a light SW wind, perfect for cricket. The pitch still rock hard and the outfield yellow and as fast as lightning.
Garforth won the toss and asked us to bat, Milford’s skipper Paul Hebden not too upset with that as he would have chosen to bat if he had won.
Alex Ward & Pete Batty opened the batting and from the off Alex seemed to still be in the form from his brilliant 136 no at Rufforth last week. The ball was certainly coming off the wicket well, the liveliest I have seen at Milford for many years. If Alex was making batting look easy then Pete was struggling, eventually he holed out for a stuttering 6. This brought Ben White in at #3, the scorer settled back with the tantalising prospect of our two top batters about to rip the Garforth attack apart.
Alas this was only to last 2 overs as Darren Childe got Alex trapped in front when he looked set to repeat his innings of last week. Darren Childe and Ben have a bit of history, Ben for whatever reason has always wanted to thump Darren out of the attack. Today was no exception and once he got to face him he to the fight to him. Childe had 1 for 13 off 5 overs before Ben came in but 3 overs later he left the attack with his tail between his legs having been smashed for 2 sixes and 4 fours. 1-0 to Ben.
It looked like Ben might continue his excellent run of form batting at home, his last two home games bringing him centuries. He raced to his fifty of just 29 balls and looked well set for another 3 figure score when he gave keeper Mark Elgar a regulation catch. A nice 75 though which pushes him further in front of rival Jame Stockton.
The Milford batting wasn’t going to wilt with the loss of White and the benefit of having Sean in the team was evident when he was part of two partnerships which pushed our score once again over 200. The first was with Matty Paul which added 32 and the second an excellent 81 with Joe Raynor. Sean must be a nightmare for an opposition bowler, always looking to score off every ball. Once he knocked the rust off he started to find the boundary and his 2nd fifty of the season came off just 36 balls. Sean was out shortly after becoming veteran Andy Conboy’s 4th victim.
Joe Raynor really deserved to join the fifty club today after an excellent knock but was sadly run out on 43 when trying to marshal the tail as the innings drew to a close. Milford eventually all out with 2 balls left with 260 on the board. An excellent performance with valuable contributions all through the batting line up. The thing was could we defend it this week ?
Sean was not only in the team for his batting & bowling this week but also his tea making. Alas there was no sign of anything resembling a bush tucker trial in his spread. A traditional selection with some very nice flapjack a highlight. Looked home made and was really tasty and surely counts as one of your five a day……
So now to the tricky bit, the bowling. It is a great relief to report that this was a much better performance by all the Milford bowlers. Joe Raynor & Sean opened the attack and from the off made it difficult for Garforth to build up a head of steam. Joe taking two wickets in his opening spell of 6 overs. Sean wasn’t as lucky but with just 25 runs coming off his 8 overs he kept the pressure on the visitors.
Not only was the bowling much improved but the ground fielding was excellent this week and catches were held. Harry Jackson replaced Joe at the pavilion end and looked right at home. He picked up his first wicket in his 4th over when he got Paul Scott to hole out to Milford skipper Paul Hebden. Spinner James Bramley backed up Harry and bowled the only Garforth batsmen who looked to be a danger, opener James Alinson. This left the visitors 4 for 69 inside 20 overs.
Harry then claimed 2 wickets in 2 balls to really put us in the driving seat. With their missing ‘stars’ Garforth didn’t seem to have an answer to the Milford attack, especially James Bramley who claimed his best return of the season with 4 for 36. James only failing to get his first five for when younger brother Charlie had the cheek to pinch the last wicket off him to wrap up the Garforth innings.
Garforth all out for just 128 inside 29 overs, a big dent in their title charge and something the form book had certainly not predicted. Lets hope this is a sign that the rest of the season is going to be better for Milford as though we are probably safer from the drop it will still take at least another 2 wins to see us finish in the top half of the table for the 2nd season running.