Bowlers Name Please !!!!!
By John Richardson
Milford Battle Poor Wicket & Confused Scorer to Win Last Away Game
Last Saturday saw us travel to our last away game of the season. We were playing bottom of the table Thorner Mexborough. It was a lovely day and the hot sunny weather had returned with a vengeance. On arrival we discovered the car park packed, the neighbouring football club was having a charity match day, not our loyal travelling fan base getting there early.
Thorner cricket club are struggling a bit at the moment and are bottom of the division, they are also finding it hard to put out full 2nd teams. They had only managed 10 players including a pool player in the match against our 2nd team at Milford today. It seems they were also having problems with members doing work on the ground. It used to be a nice tidy ground with a nice little score hut with a little garden around it. The ground looked unloved, the wicket rough and the little score hut unused and abandoned. Very sad.
Milford’s injury jinx had struck again. Stu Morley was missing, his finger been broken in last weeks game and James Bramley had also managed to break his thumb in his first game of rugby for school. That all but confirmed the 1st team bowling award going to Sam Thomas even though he had missed a third of the season with injury, not a great testament to the rest of the 1st team bowling. This meant that Liam Barlow made his 1st team league debut at last and Alex Ward was back from his trip to France last weekend.
The reputation of the Thorner wicket this season was terrible so the toss was going to be crucial, Milford skipper Paul Hebden won the toss and to our relief asked the home side to have a bat.
Sean Nesbitt and Joe Raynor opened the attack for Milford and from the off it was clear it was going to be very difficult for the batsmen all day. Anyone bowling from the far end was going to get the benefit of some real uncertain bounce, the pavilion end probably better but by no means anything like what we are used to at home. To make matters worse the outfield was slow, the grass been left rather lush. It was not going to be a 250+ run score for either side today.
Joe was right on the money from the start picking up wickets in his first two overs removing both of Thorner’s opening batsmen. Sean at the other end wasn’t having the luck in his first spell but only conceded 18 runs in his 7 overs.
The sun was hot and in my eyes, the outfield large so the wicket was a long way away, Thorner had a stand in scorer, all our players wear near on identical team kit and we have quiet a few tall, thin young lads who look similar to an old scorer. Is that enough excuses ? Well it was at this stage I didn’t notice that Joe Raynor had been replaced by Harry Jackson at the far end which would cause me embarrassment later on and a £5 fine for general incompetence….
The Thorner batsmen showed a bit more resistance after the loss cheaply of their openers, wicket keeper Jamie Warriner and Abid Hussain put on a stand of 40 for the 3rd wicket. This promising partnership was finally broken by Sean in his last over of his spell when he trapped Hussain LBW. Not the most forceful of his appeals today, one cry for an LBW went on a good minute and a half and when finished was warmly applauded by the opposition. It didn’t convince the umpire who decided it was not out.
Charlie Bramley replaced Sean and bowled really well, the extra acreage of Thorner’s outfield giving him the confidence to give it a real rip. He collected a wicket in his first over, a great bowling change by the skipper.
The innings then entered a really boring phase as the Thorner batsmen tried to battle through the overs without giving away their wickets, hoping to launch an attack in the last 10 with plenty of wickets in the shed. 16 overs passed with just 36 runs added to the total. Very steady stuff. By this stage the charity football match was over so there was nothing else to watch but this glacial cricket.
The return of Joe Raynor into the attack broke the stalemate and he got Warriner caught by Rich Taylor. This brought the dangerous Bilal Sabir to the crease. Bilal can change a game very quickly, his cavalier batting style a joy to watch. It wasn’t to be his day today as our secret weapon, Liam Barlow, got him caught just as he was getting into his stride. Liam had been vigorously warming up for half a dozen overs before coming on by the boundary in front of the pavilion, trying to catch the captains eye. His medium pace seemed to better suit the Thorner wicket and he got some real variation in bounce with his deliveries. Some hardly got off the deck while others pitched on a length and went over the head of both batsmen & keeper. Barlow bowling a bouncer, whatever next.
The loss of Bilal really knocked Thorner’s attempt to set a challenging total and though we failed to bowl them out inside the 45 overs their total of 143 didn’t seem too bad. Another 20 or 30 would have made it a real challenging total. The last 10 overs saw Sean come back to nick a couple of cheap wickets and the scorer getting his knickers in a twist thinking that the Milford skipper had got his sums wrong and was attempting to bowl Joe Raynor for a 13th over.
The game stopped for 5 minutes as the mix up was sorted and the scorer pointed out the error in his ways. Not helped by Harry Jackson claiming he started his bowling spell with a maiden not the 7 runs his pies and half trackers conceded….
The Thorner teas were pretty average but certainly better than the those we got on our first road trip of the season to Ledsham. The summer of the jam & cream scone seems along long way away now, just a selection of bought cakes on offer. As I said earlier, Thorner again doing just enough and not going that extra mile. The sign of a club in a bit of decline.
Though under par the Thorner total would still be tricky on that wicket and a good start would be needed if we were not to get ourselves in an embarrassing situation. Alex Ward and Harry Jackson opened the batting.
The run rate wasn’t really a problem it was just a case of playing sensibly and not loosing wickets. Both lads batted well coping with the uneven bounce. Perhaps the two Thorner opening bowlers were a little too quick to get the best out of the track. Alex was a little unlucky to be judged LBW with the score on 11. This brought in his rival for the 1st team batting award, Ben White. Today we probably saw the best of Ben, he managed to combine both his natural attacking style with a more sensible careful shot selection.
Luck was on the Milford batsmen side as both Harry & Ben were given extra lives by poor fielding but to their credit they made the home side pay for their mistakes. Harry played the perfect openers innings. Skipper Paul Hebden giving him the perfect compliment in ‘It is just like watching Stu apart from the use of the bat instead of the pads and the shots on the leg side……’
Together the two batsmen ground Thorner down and which ever bowler was brought on was watched carefully then hit out of the attack. Bens 5th fifty of the season coming off 59 balls and just as it seemed he was going to carry his bat he holed out to Thorner captain Jim Shaw.
Harry got a really well deserved red inker today and also made a fifty before we knocked them off. Arguably the best innings seen all season by a Milford batsmen when you consider the playing surface. I could have imagined it been a real struggle if we had lost a clutch of early wickets.
So we go into the last game of the season next week on a high and are certain to finish mid table. Not perhaps as high as we had hoped at the start but with our bowling attack dropping like flies I suppose it isn’t too bad. Fingers crossed we have a bit better luck next season in what will hopefully be our last season in the Wetherby League.
“After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out” Warren Buffet