Hamstrung Wellington Outmuscled
Wellington 3rd XI earned a credible draw against a strong Knockin side on an eventful afternoon at Orleton Park.
Match report by David Ross
Wellington’s preparation for this fixture was far from ideal. Regular opening bowler Rachael Howells arrived at the ground with a heavily strapped wrist, which meant she was unable to take part. Rumours abounded that Ben Pilkington’s recent abuse of Rach had ascended from the verbal to the outright physical; however, a more likely explanation had it that the injury was a result of over-texting her favourite teammate, Tom Masters.
Inserted on a wet deck, Knockin got off to a flyer, thickset opener Williams taking an early liking to the returning Pilkington. They raced away to 35-0 off the first 5 overs before Ben Keeble found just enough in the pitch to extract a fine edge, which was neatly swallowed by ‘Spunky’ Duncy Taylor at first slip.
After the dismissal of Williams, Wellington recomposed and began to improve. Owais Abdul replaced Pilks, looking full of energy now the fasting period of Ramadan has come to an end. Fully charged on a breakfast of Pop Tarts and Sunny Delight, the mercurial leg-spinner found a beautiful length, and extracted four victims in the day.
At the other end, promising 10-year-old seamer Sam Topper bowled a tidy spell, which yielded the wicket of the remaining opener. Refreshingly for Sam, whose own dad had shelled a gift of a chance off him last Saturday, the ball looped up to the safe hands of Pilks at backward point, and he made no such mistake.
Some sloppy fielding did not help Wellington’s rearguard during the middle overs, nor did the reprieve handed to danger man Gray (57), who hoisted the ball straight up in the air, only for the injured Ross - bandaged up like Mr. Bump after last week’s strained hammy - and keeper Chris Sheperd to leave the ball for one another. It landed agonizingly between the two of them in the centre of the wicket, much to everyone's amazement.
From 150-2, with 12 overs remaining, Knockin rather squandered the opportunity to post a formidable score as they lost cheap wickets in the closing stages to the spinning duo of Abdul and Dave Ross, finishing up on 215-7.
The Wellington chase began with great promise, as 10 runs came off the first over. Pat Howells looked in fine form, crashing a huge six onto the other pitch. However, after notching up 31 runs from 25 balls, disaster struck. Pushing for a quick single, the opener overstretched and tore his hamstring asunder. In evident distress, he looked toward the sidelines for assistance, only to find captain Pitchford pointing in his direction and laughing heartily. In his defence, the skipper later claimed to have mistaken the affliction for a bout of cramp, but this was little consolation to Pat. Still less comforting were his teammates’ assurances that he was “on for a big one” before the injury.
With Pat retired hurt, Tom Masters joined Owais at the middle looking to maintain the early momentum. Alex Taylor beckoned his support from the sidelines: “If you’re not tearing a muscle, you’re not running hard enough!” However, the side’s running was the least of their problems, as they struggled hopelessly against the excellent first-change bowling of Evans, who claimed four quick ones to reduce the side to 84-4 (effectively 84-5), amongst this wicket riot, the dismissals of Alex and Pitchy to consecutive balls.
“When was your last golden duck?” Alex later asked the skipper.
“Cor…must be seven, eight years ago, dude…”
“No it wasn’t,” he replied heartlessly, “…it was today.”
Wellington rebuilt through Sheperd and Duncs, who put on 50 before the latter fell LBW. All of which left Shep with the unenviable task of marshaling the tail in pursuit of the 90 runs still required. He was afforded good support from Ben Pilkington (16), but when he himself succumbed on 47, it was a case of holding on for the draw for Sam Topper and Dave Ross. With Pat unable to bat again, Wellington’s ninth wicket was their last. After a couple of close shaves, the pair did indeed see it out at 178-8, earning a good draw against the league leaders.
Next up: second placed Market Drayton on Saturday.