Shep Llicks Llany
The Thirds bounced back from their drubbing at Drayton to de-bag basement boys Llanidloes in a one-sided game of cricket.
Match report by David Ross
Admirably, Pitchy actually competed the toss this week. There was no repeat of the cowardice he showed during the Market Drayton match, when he let the bigger man simply dictate terms. Apparently his parents have had a strong word with the teachers and this had strengthened the Wellington captain's resolve not to allow himself to be bullied again. Yet just like last week, he was still bang out of luck, losing the toss and seeing his side inserted on a green one.
Llanidloes arrived at Orleton Park with just ten men. Rumour had it that after Wellington amassed an opening stand of 163 in the reverse fixture earlier this season, there had been few volunteers for a repeat match-up.
Those that did make it were indeed treated to Groundhog Day. Chris Sheperd (122) played the role assigned to Dan Candlish eleven weeks ago, registering a hard-hit century that included 20 fours and one six. With this his second hundred of the season, Chris clearly has no qualms about playing the ‘big fish’ in this side. It was an innings that broke the spirits of the Welshmen and set Wellington up for victory.
Fellow opener Mark O’Connor (57) provided valuable assistance, churning out an impressive half-century on a slow wicket. He was in so little trouble that midway through the innings he uncharacteristically removed his helmet. Scalp glistening in the sunshine, some onlookers were certain they were watching Jonathan Trott (or Lord Voldemort) in full flow.
When Shep eventually departed to a catch in the deep, the opening stand had reached 183. From this position, Wellington looked likely to amass 250-plus in their 40 overs. But Llanidloes battled back well in the last 10 overs; whilst the home side, as so often happens in such situations, struggled to keep their momentum going. The innings was declared in the 38th over on 219-8. Aside from Mark and Shep, the next highest contribution was just 6. Nevertheless, Wellington had a formidable total on the board.
Ben Pilkington, who turned 18 this week, admitted feeling a little jaded from all the celebration, which was his excuse for spending most of the first innings asleep in the portacabin. Yet his little power-nap seemed to pay dividends; the Wellington opener was on top form to claim two victims with the new pill. Meanwhile, ‘Wee’ Sammy Topper got one more at the other end, leaving Llany three down and in big trouble.
With the visitors falling quickly behind the rate, it became a case of whether Wellington could find the wickets they needed. Jack Fishman gave a good account of himself on third team debut and was unlucky not to claim any in his five overs (0-11). Thereafter, Pitchy’s trusted spin twins – Dave Ross (2-23) and Owais Abdul (2-6) – maneuvered the side to the brink of victory, only for a stubborn period of resistance from the lower order which lasted until the 35th over.
The situation cried out for the guile of Pilko, who returned to the attack – and he needed just five balls to settle the match. The breakthrough came when Stopper held a good catch at point, earning himself his favourite tea of spaghetti hoops (on toast) in the process. The last wicket was held by Pitchy at silly mid-off – his first legitimate catch since before the Beacon game.
Llanidloes were nine down and all out for 73, thereby completing a comprehensive win for the 3rd XI. With three more fixtures this season, an impressive third-placed finish is now firmly in their sights. Meanwhile, by adding to Llany’s relegation worries they might well have helped avoid a 135-mile trip on Pitchy’s Funbus next season.