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3rd XI - Match centre

Wellington 3rd XI
Iscoyd and Fenns Bank
Sat 21 Jun 13:30 - League Start time 13:30

The Longest Day

Wellington 3rds celebrated the longest day of the year with a crushing victory over Iscoyd and Fenns Bank.

Not since the fall of the Aztec Empire has the summer solstice been marked by such an orgy of bloodletting and brutality, as one by one the Iscoyd bowlers were sacrificed at the blade of Wellington’s Montezuma, Alex Taylor.

Taylor’s innings of 113 – a maiden hundred for the Wellington Number Six – lasted only 74 balls and included 14 fours and 4 sixes. It was a relatively brief assault, but a telling one. In fact, it was enough to take the game away from an Iscoyd team who toiled away joylessly in the searing heat, chasing leather from one corner of the ground to the other. It was pleasing that the man recently described as the Balotelli of the Shropshire Cricket League had let his cricket do the talking – for the second week in a row.

Alex was not the only Wellington player to produce heroics this week. Prior to the match, Matt Denver decided to shave off his trademark twizzly beard – to the relief of his teammates and, apparently, to the benefit of his batting. His ill-advised goatee, which has been haunting his chin for most of the season, had even sparked rumours that the Wellington wicketkeeper was about to join the ISIS movement in Iraq. Without it, Denver was reinvigorated at the crease. His unbeaten 85 offered fine support to Alex’s show-stopping act. Between the pair of them they added 167 for their side’s fifth wicket.

What was so remarkable about this partnership was that it was totally inconceivable when the two had come together at 61-4. Iscoyd had started the game well and looked to have Wellington on the ropes, particularly when the returning Patrick Howells (10) – already granted a reprieve when he was bowled off a no-ball – fell leg-before-wicket. His replacement, Ian Murphy, recorded a second blob on the spin; whilst opener Sam Topper, who looked well set, ran himself out moments later. When Charles Harrison tried to put one in the woods – and missed – his skipper’s wisdom in opting to bat first was brought into focus.

Nevertheless, the author’s underlying faith in his at times unpredictable batting line-up was duly rewarded with a score of 278-6 off 45 overs. When Taylor finally fell, Alex Harris, who hastily made 24 in the dying stages, assumed his mantle, ensuring there was no respite for the boys from Iscoyd.

Taylor was flagging after his batting exertions and beginning to complain of hay-fever symptoms before play resumed after tea. Fellow sufferer Ian Muphy came to his aid, offering him an antihistamine to alleviate his suffering – which Alotelli duly crushed up and snorted. Like the time he ate a ladybird, or when he downed a shot of salt, this latest episode only reinforces his reputation as a strange enigma, albeit a troubled one who wears a lot of sun cream.

Back on the field, Sam Topper opened the bowling as usual, although this week his trousers thankfully reached his leg-ends. He and fellow opener Alex Harris came under a barrage in the initial stages as Iscoyd attempted to make some inroads into their daunting target. However, with plenty of runs on the board, Wellington could afford to be patient. With the score on 54, Harris’ efforts were finally rewarded when opener Felix Shore (26) missed a straight ‘un, opening the floodgates. Lewis Gough was introduced into the attack and gradually began to control proceedings. He steadily removed batsmen throughout his 13 overs on the way to excellent figures of 5-35.

Talking of removals, the innings almost witnessed the first ever on-field decapitation at Orleton Park when the skipper attempted to stop a fizzing drive with his boot at mid-off. In doing so he served to divert the ball - on the volley - in the direction of mid-on Jonny Black, only missing his boat-race by a matter of inches.

Of course, Iscoyd put up a rearguard and it looked uncertain whether all ten of their wickets could be wheedled out on such a flat deck. With little occurring from his own bowling, the skipper threw the ball to part-timer Taylor. It was written in the stars. His 3-11, including the final wicket, was a fitting end to a superb personal display and team effort.

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