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3rd XI - Match centre

Wellington 3rd XI
Shifnal 3rd XI
Sat 10 May 13:30 - League

Wellington Win Hair-raising Encounter

The Thirds overcame the weather and Shifnal to register their first win of the season.

Wellington’s side had a very different look from the one that lost narrowly to Ellesmere in the previous week. Ian Murphy and Sam Topper were both called up to the Seconds, which proved only to be a bittersweet promotion. Their game at Dorridge was called-off in the morning, so they were restricted to a watching brief for the afternoon. Meanwhile, Jonathan Black was otherwise occupied at Jamie’s Italian and Henry Davies had a school match.

In their wake came Matty Dickenson, Jack Fishman, Mike Debenham and Lewis Gough; however it was the inclusion of Azaad Rafiq that generated the most attention amongst those spectating. At the tender age of just 20, Azaad’s balding scalp had left him resembling Friar Tuck by the end of last season. So, needless to say, when he arrived at Orleton Park on Saturday afternoon looking like Marouane Fellaini, it was bound to create a stir – especially amongst the follically-challenged ranks of our Club. Mike Nadal, Duncan Taylor and Matty Stinson, in particular, seemed eager to know the story. It transpires that, refusing to accept the cruel hand Nature has dealt him, Azaad withdrew his savings and jetted off to Turkey over the winter to undergo an experimental hair treatment - with terrific success. Given the growing number of slapheads at Wellington CC these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if a tour to the Dalaman coast was not proposed at the next AGM.

This being England and this being May, the weather was predictably monstrous on Saturday afternoon. As such, the chances of any kind of result looked slim at best as the match got underway. However, the silver lining for Wellington was that Pitchy had won the toss and elected to bowl, a significant advantage; although seemingly not for Corey, whose Gerrard-esque slip at square-leg almost earned him a trip to the local hospital.

The impressive Alex Harris gave Wellington what they’ve struggled for all season – an early wicket – when he relieved a Shifnal opener of his off pole. Not to be outdone, Pilko sprung into action at the other end, snicking off their Number Three, which was held by a grateful Alex Taylor behind the stumps. It was now 23-2.

Dave Ross entered the fray and survived an early barrage of boundaries by bending Pitchy’s ear, insisting that he had a plan for the imminent dismissal of the entire Shifnal middle order. Each boundary, he assured his captain, was merely the result of the slippery ball sliding uncontrollably out of his grip. He was as good as his word, carving out a chance in the next over, which was inexplicably dropped at point by Pilko. However, two quick wickets moments later reduced the visitors to 72-4.

Had it not been for the stubborn resistance of Shifnal opener Kevin Humphreys, whose 65 bound his side’s innings together, Wellington may well have run through their opposition’s order. Whilst that didn’t happen, neither did the visitors muster a counterpoise. Pitchy’s men shut the game out impressively in the closing stages: Matt Dickenson bowled three overs for just two runs; whilst Alex Harris came back for a second spell to complete with excellent figures of 8 overs, just 2-7.

Wellington were thus set a chase of 119 in their 40 overs, but with the weather unpredictable and the outfield slow, victory was by no means a formality – especially given the hash the side had made of a similar task last week.

Lucky charm Mike Debenham was lost early in proceedings. “I’m such a moron...I’ve been watching the ball not-come-on all afternoon, and then I tried to flick one through here, like this” – he pointed, whilst his teammates nodded apologetically.

Matty Dickenson on the other hand is a quick learner and adapted well to the challenging conditions to stroke a fine 52 not out, a match-winning innings for his side. On the undercard was a testosterone-fuelled knock from Alex Taylor, who hit 31 from not so many balls. When Alex was out to another “one that kept low,” his namesake Harris ran with the baton, steering Wellington to the threshold of victory with a quick 17, only to get himself stumped with the scores dead-level.

Enter Corey “Bottlejob” Kernick, who had earned his rather harsh new nickname from his unsympathetic teammates on account of his being the last wicket to fall against Ellesmere. His superiors informed him that he would retain this new moniker until he presided over a victory for his team. You can imagine then, his enthusiasm to be called to the crease with just one run required. Now he’s just plain old Corey again.

Wellington offered up a complete performance in what will hopefully prove the first of many victories this season. With Captain Pitchford ruled out for several weeks while he recuperates from surgery, Dave Ross – the Smithers to his Mr Burns – will be hoping that this young side can carry their momentum into next week’s encounter at Tibberton.

Meanwhile we all wish Pitchy a speedy recovery and look forward to having him leading us out again as soon as possible.

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