Kings Of The Castle
On the last day of August, Steve Pitchford’s men secured what was perhaps their most convincing victory of the summer.
Match report by David Ross
Nestled high up in the Shropshire hills, Bishops Castle is one of the most picturesque settings for cricket in the league; and with a secluded off-road location, Ben Pilks suggested it might also be a good spot for open-minded couples (no idea where he got this idea from).
On this sunny Saturday afternoon the ground was a vision of splendor, although the stiff, cooling breeze left nobody in any doubt that autumn is just around the corner.
With Alex Taylor, Matty Dickenson and Ian Murphy all returning, the Wellington batting line-up looked formidable on paper. Calling correctly, Pitchy bullishly decided to bat first and target maximum points.
Openers Chris Sheperd and Mark O’Connor started where they left off last week, moving the score on effortlessly in the first 15 overs. However, with 73 on the board, Shep (41) attempted one big shot too many.
Tom Masters came to the crease at number three, and he hit some beautiful shots through the covers in his 26, as Wellington continued to make good progress.
With regular umpire Chris Field away on holiday, and no home representative, it was left to the players of both sides to officiate the game. This was particularly unwelcome news for Smasher, who was given out LBW by the seemingly trigger-happy Shep with the score on 101.
Wellington’s 33-year-old opener appeared furious with the decision: “He might as well have slept with my missus,” he fumed, trudging off.
The away side's batting order began to totter in the middle overs. Masters, Harris and Dickenson all fell within a matter of a few balls, although the latter might consider himself a little unfortunate.
Rocking back to a half-tracker, Dicko was embarrassed when the ball failed to bounce over ankle height and scuttled through to his timbers. The Wellington all-rounder looked disapprovingly at the pitch which had undone him, only to receive a send-off from the bowler (who also happened to be the rather protective Castle groundsman): “I don’t think it was the pitch mate, more like the awful shot!”
After this wobble, Steve Pitchford (31) and Alex Taylor (18) got the Wellington innings back on track. Speaking beforehand, Al promised that if he hit a six during the game, he would raise his bat in the air and shout “FINCHY!” in homage to his new hero, the Australian big-hitter Aaron Finch. Naturally, he was as good as his word, clearing the square-leg boundary with his very first ball. Not for the first time this season, the opposition were left trying to figure out what on earth he was on about.
Wellington reached 208-8 in their 40 overs and the players were able to enjoy tea knowing they had a good total on the board. All that is, except Smasher, who was still chuntering on about Shep’s LBW call: “You just don’t do that sort of thing to a mate,” he continued to protest.
After some fine fielding in the deep by Harris and Dicko, and some questionable running, Wellington had an early breakthrough via a run out.
Meanwhile, Swing King Pilko was on fine form yet again, claiming 4-27 in his allotted 7 overs, which transpired to be a match-winning performance. That takes the youngster’s season haul up to an impressive 30 wickets at 12 apiece.
As in the previous week’s fixture with Llanidloes, Wellington’s early inroads left them well in control of the match. Pitchy was able to set the attacking fields required to secure the wickets needed for an outright victory. As it happened, these were achieved without too much drama: bowling all-rounder Alex Taylor claimed 3-8, while David Ross and Matt Dickenson both got their hands on one. Bishops Castle were convincingly dismissed for 74 in just 28 overs.
Wellington stay in third place after this one, with two games left to play. Captain Pitchy will be hoping for more of the same from his side as the 2013 campaign comes to a close.