High and Dry at Drayton
Wellington 3rd XI were on the wrong end of a rout on a wet and blustery day in Market Drayton.
Match report by David Ross
Going into the game, Wellington harboured slim hopes of beating Drayton to second place in the Division Two table; however, with several key players away at the V Festival and elsewhere, they were forced once again to field an inexperienced side in a crucial game.
Nevertheless, with Saturday’s weather forecasts predicting an afternoon of almost biblical rain, it seemed unlikely that a result would be possible at all. Indeed, an hour before the scheduled start, just as Duncan had finished laying out the cones for the warm up, the onslaught began. The players duly retired to the safety of the clubhouse.
It became very clear that Drayton - in sight of promotion themselves, of course - were keen to get the game going as soon as possible. That being the case, as soon as the last spot of rain had fallen, their captain burst in through the door and practically manhandled Pitchy to the middle to conduct the toss, which he promptly lost. In such conditions, it was no surprise we were asked to bat.
Despite the outfield being thoroughly sodden from the hour of rain, it was agreed to start straight away, with the game reduced to 32 or 34 overs-a-side (Steve couldn’t quite remember). However, agreeing to reduce the game by 26 overs when only 20 minutes of play had been lost struck the rest of the team as quite strange. Many among the Wellington ranks felt their captain had been well and truly bullied into this one; and their suspicions were confirmed when Pitchy trudged back in minus his lunch money and sporting a ‘wedgie’.
The Wellington innings started ominously when Owais gloved one behind in the second over. Then, the very next ball Shep was well caught at long-leg hooking - his second golden duck since returning from the Dark Side. The bowler, Jesse Thompstone (6-19), completed his hat trick with the first ball of his second over when he unseated Mark O’Connor, leaving Wellington floundering on 14-3.
Amongst all this, Alex Taylor demonstrated a relatively calm head, hitting a credible 25 before being uprooted by the rampant Thompstone, who quickly added the wickets of Pitchy and Corey Kernick to his day’s plunder.
Ex-Drayton man Charles Harrison occupied the crease for some time, during which he was dropped twice. His wicket was clearly prized above all others by the opposition: in fact, even the home umpire let out a squeal of frustration when the second chance went down, which somewhat betrayed his impartiality. Nevertheless, they would not have to wait long: he too was cheaply dismissed, further reducing the side to 48-7.
Big Duncs (20) and Rachael (8) were handed the job of resuscitating the innings. Interestingly, at this point, with only four boundaries having been hit in the entire innings, Drayton switched to ultra-defensive fields on what was a huge playing surface, giving the Wellington tail enough gaps to progress the score to 82-9 off their 32 overs. It was nowhere near enough.
Wellington’s bowling options were so modest that Alex Taylor joined Rachael in sharing the new ball, a first for the part-timer at the age of 25. In the third over, Rach got the wicket of the Sri Lankan opener Damith Abeyagunawardene (6), whose innings was significantly shorter than his name. However, it would be her side’s sole consolation.
Number three James Lauder (32*) joined skipper James Coggins (41*) at the middle and the pair began to progress the scoreboard along quickly, mindful no doubt that unsettled weather was circling around the area. The pair took a particular liking to Owais’ leg-spinners - and the mid-wicket boundary. In the 14th over, with just four runs required for victory, Dave Ross entered the attack (0.1-0-4-0) – and that was that.
All too predictably the rain that looked like it might have saved Wellington all afternoon, arrived just a matter of minutes after this final act. In what was thoroughly forgettable day for the entire team, the last word must ultimately go to Steve ‘Milhouse’ Pitchford for his spineless display at the toss. The side will be wearing blue anti-bullying wristbands next week in solidarity.