Third Team Woes Continue
Wellington 3rds enjoyed an afternoon beside the Severn on Saturday, as they took on Beacon in a keenly contested Division Two clash.
Last season a freak thunderstorm called time on the corresponding fixture. That day the wicket was left submerged and unplayable under two inches of water. Thankfully, despite the recent poor weather, and the ankle-deep mud that greeted us in the car park, the pitch was merely damp this time around, and a game could take place.
Captain Ross put his faith in Her Majesty at the coin toss and was duly rewarded. Once again Wellington were bowling first in the inviting conditions of early season, as they have done in every game thus far in 2014.
On paper, Wellington went into this fixture in their best shape of the season - with plenty of batting and bowling options. Matthew Dickenson returned to the line-up. Prior to Saturday, he hadn’t been dismissed this season (he may have mentioned it), although that is in part due to him hiding in the 6th team last time out under the pretence that he was available “Sunday Only”. Dicko was joined by an assortment of players returning to the side: Ben Gould, Matt Denver, Ian Murphy and Alex Harris all came in. Meanwhile, Ben Pilkington was so eager to play in this one that he arrived by train, direct from university; a great show of commitment generously rewarded by his mom, who had sent over a delicious packed lunch for her little angel to enjoy.
Offering some experience in this youthful and exuberant line-up was Duncan Taylor, who, despite the revelation that he had drunkenly dialled a kebab for home delivery the night before, still retains the dwindling respect of the youngsters he's brought through the ranks at the club.
Alas, Wellington’s afternoon did not go quite to plan. On a pitch that gave the bowlers considerable assistance, too many four balls were offered up in the early stages, which allowed Beacon to construct a useful opening stand of 57 in what was certain to be a low-scoring affair.
Before long, Wellington turned to spin – with better results. Rosco got the breakthrough, pinning the opener LBW. Working in tandem with his stunt-double Lewis Gough at the other end, the skipper began to put the brakes on Beacon’s free-scoring batters.
Danger-man Doug Reynolds was quick to fall – to everyone’s evident relief - after he carved a rank ball that bounced twice to Matthew Dickenson at cover. No-ball, surely? - No! As the umpires pointed out the ball must bounce more than twice to be illegal these days. However, as later became apparent, the SCL adhere to the old rule for some reason – that is, more than one bounce is a no-ball – so the wicket should not have stood. It was a lucky break for Wellington.
At this juncture, Steve Pitchford turned up to watch proceedings - and his timing could hardly have been worse. After all, you may recall it was his “catch” that sparked so much controversy in this fixture last year, namely because he was ankle-deep in the River Severn when he claimed it. Thankfully the Beacon players did not interpret his appearance as an act of provocation; otherwise the atmosphere could have turned very ugly.
With Pitchy watching on from the sidelines, like a redder-faced Alex Ferguson, Wellington’s answer to David Moyes went to pieces, dropping two catches in as many overs. The first of which, a caught-and-bowled chance, initiated a fall so ungainly that, at the time of writing, he is nursing a heavily bruised left buttock, which shines proudly purple two days later.
Thankfully, the drop catches were not too costly. The diminutive duo of Ross (4-31) and Gough (3-33) began to tear through the Beacon order after drinks, reducing the hosts to 118-8. Had it not been for the excellent application and patience of Beacon opener Alan Mines (75), Wellington would have been chasing considerably less than the 144 they needed for victory.
Could Wellington’s batters follow Mines’ example in their own innings?
Dicko opened up with Ben Gould, who was playing his first game at Wellington in several years. Despite some pretty horrendous Stormtrooper-style pads, he didn't look at all out of place at the top of the order. Still, Beacon exerted pressure on the pair from the off, albeit without taking early wickets. However they kept the scoring well under control. As the pressure began to mount, the batting side was forced to take greater risks, which was the undoing of both openers: Dicko falling first, for 15, followed by Gouldy for 30.
With the score on 49-2, Ian Murphy and Matt Denver were able to push Beacon onto the back-foot ever so briefly as the former played his usual belligerent game. Unfortunately, Murph’s counterpunch will be missing next week as he has decided to spend his Saturday doing up his garden rather than playing cricket. On this damp afternoon at the riverside, the only thing wetter than this feeble excuse was the car park.
However once Murph had poked a chance to point, the traffic was all in one direction, and the innings collapsed. 73-3. 80-4. 80-5. 85-6. 86-7. 94-8. Only eight overs of resistance from Jonathan Black and David Ross salvaged a disappointing draw. Even then, the skipper was castled with three balls to go, calling on Lewis Gough to see the innings out at 98-9 in a nail-biting finale.
Wellington know they must improve against Cae Glas at home next time out.
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