25th July 2015
The balls is clipped to backward square leg, an easy single beckons as the fielder has to turn and chase the ball almost to the boundary, and the non-striker’s runner calls the batsman through. However the run is refused by Gareth who thus remains unbeaten without having scored but he has ensured that Metro draw their league game with Lancashire.
Gareth had come to the crease with three overs of Metro’s 27 remaining as Mark Bond’s stubborn resistance was ended after a 41 ball innings as he was bowled by Junaid, the visitor’s main strike bowler, failing for once to take a single and keep the strike.
This left Andy Law facing the club captain who bowled him on the fourth ball of that over meaning the last pair had 14 balls to survive. Alan blocked for two balls as the tension mounted. Gareth showed good technique in blocking out Junaid’s last over as the Lancashire team and supporters looked for a wicket from every ball; and the game went into its sixtieth over.
Alan clipped a no ball square and a run was taken so that Gareth could try and repeat his feat of the over before; a big responsibility for a player who while happy to bowl has been a reluctant batsman since taking the game up. So six balls – blocked, clipped to fine leg and a run refused, a good solid block, a miss, a wide, a nerve jangling swing and a miss and then that match saving ball, as cometh the hour cometh the man.
Metro’ defence had been led by Mark with good support earlier from Hassan, top scorer Matt Page and Adam Benjamin after the home side had slumped to 46 for 4 chasing 219 to win. Matt Dean had been run out on the penultimate ball of the fourth over; his dismissal followed quickly by those of Mo and Rory, the home captain being well caught at fine leg – the first of the Lancashire match captain’s three wickets taken for just 18 runs. The early sunshine of the afternoon had disappeared as the 15 over drinks break was reached a smattering of rain seemed to match the mood of the home side as at 61 for 5 there was still at lot to do to ensure the game was not lost.
In the end the day that had started with fear that the rain of the day before might mean that no cricket could be played, had produced a tremendously exciting game; although the draw was perhaps a disappointment for the home team after the first half of the game. They had won the toss, chosen to bowl and then restricted a strong batting side to 218 all out from one ball short of 33 overs.
That total was built on two good innings from Usman and Wasim Afridi who scored 67 and 65 respectively. It had at one point looked as if the visitor’s might score a lot more when they were 90 for 1 with Usman on 67 hitting the ball well all round the ground, that was until Andy Law clung on to one of his fierce drives off Gareth’s bowling. After that the game seemed to even up as almost all the Metro bowlers chipped in with wickets; Amit being the sixth as Rory anticipated well to catch the ball behind the stumps as Wasim tried to help it on its way down the leg side.
Mohammed cleaned up the tail with three wickets in ten balls without conceding a run to end with match figures of 5 for 32 from 8.5 overs.
Plenty of cricket next weekend as Metro looking for a trip to “finals day” play Somerset, the current champions – who drew their league game with Sussex, in the National T20 cup quarter finals; while the Devils look to book themselves a second final place in two years as they host the south & west development league runners up Gloucestershire Growlers in the that T20 competition.
– Report by Paul Toplis