Sting In The Dale Ruins Pitchy's Comeback
Wellington 3rd team captain Steve Pitchford returned from his eight-week lay-off after surgery to lead out his troops against Corvedale.
Naturally the boys were glad to have their leader back in charge – right up until the point when he informed them that he'd won the toss and elected to bat. Granted, Wellington were playing a side that sat bottom of the league, without a win all season; but having been dismissed themselves for 67 the previous week, Pitchy was certainly showing a great deal of faith in his out-of-form batters. Some of his teammates questioned whether the returning skipper had been hitting the morphine a little too hard during his stay in hospital.
Nevertheless Wellington started well, with Alex Taylor recording two fours in the first over of the day. However, he soon lost his partner Charles Harrison, who prodded a short ball to point. Matt Denver replaced him, but soon he and Taylor were being pinned down by the disciplined in-swingers of Corvedale’s Sher Mohammed Zahid.
Zahid was soon celebrating the wicket of Denver and that of Ian Murphy, who thankfully had avoided the ignominy of four consecutive ducks. He did register this week, but his 8 runs did little to arrest Wellington’s poor start, which got worse when Alex Taylor (20) found Corvedale fielder Glyn Tipton prowling around in the deep. He held a great running catch and aeroplaned off in celebration. With Wellington on 39-4, the visitors scented their first victory of the season.
It was now down to Pitchford to resuscitate the Wellington innings. Despite having spent the last eight weeks recuperating on the sofa, eating Maltesers and watching Babestation on Sky+, he showed no apparent signs of sluggishness. He was soon finding the boundary regularly enough to give his side hope that they might reach a par score of, say, 150. In fact, he and Corey Kernick seemed to be zipping along nicely, in little trouble, when Bottlejob ran himself out coming back for a second, plunging the team into further trouble.
Despite some courageous batting from youngsters Ryan Lloyd and Henry Davies, Pitchy was running out of partners and, in trying to force the issue, dragged one into his timbers on 45. It’s good to know the Skipper hasn’t forgotten the art of jug avoidance during his lay-off. After that, Wellington’s innings ended abruptly on 119 as the tail failed to wag.
Wellington would need a good start with the ball if they were to defend such a modest total. However, they knew that Corvedale had been misfiring all season with the bat, so if they could bowl with discipline, there was no reason why they couldn’t turn the game around.
Ryan Lloyd opened the bowling with good pace and control. His 9.3 overs in the day would yield just 10 runs for the visitors – a fine third team debut. However, it was his partner Jack Fishman who claimed the new-ball wickets: snicking opener Jeremy Freeland off to Alex Taylor at slip and then snaring his replacement, Adam Williams, who Pitchy gobbled up at mid-off.
After a quiet period, Jonathan Black got Wellington’s third wicket, which sustained his side in hope for a few more overs. He also pinged opener Paul Mantle in the goolies, which kept everyone in good spirits, except the batsman, of course, who spent several minutes doubled-over, cursing his luck.
Zahid came to the wicket at Number Five and was clearly disinclined to drag the day out any more, hitting David Ross for a six and a four in his first three balls. Thankfully the sides then retired for drinks and Pitchy optimistically tried to talk the batter out by challenging to hit the spinner for another maximum. When it comes to mind-games, the Skipper isn’t exactly in Jose Mourinho’s league; but it seemed to unsettle Zahid, who missed one three balls later. Delighted with this wicket, Ross - Wellington's answer to Billy Elliot - twisted away in the campest celebration since Brian Dowling won Big Brother. His teammates looked on disapprovingly.
At 55-4, the game appeared to be back on; but Tipton came in at Six for the visitors and combined some nervous prods in front of his pads with some hefty blows over the top. His 34 was the match-winning innings and left the Wellington boys scratching their heads as to how to get him out. When Ross eventually cleaned him up, Corvedale were just a handful of runs from victory.
Credit must also go to opener Mantle who held the innings together for the visitors. His knock was in fact more of a sit-in protest, yielding just 21 runs in 37 overs, but it allowed his teammates to play their shots and reach their small victory target. Near the end, Alex challenged him to go for a “big one” – the thought of which the batsman found so funny, the game had to be halted until he regained his composure.
Wellington only had themselves to blame in this one after failing to leave a telling impression on the scoreboard in the first innings. For their part, Corvedale put in a terrific bowling and fielding display, belying their position at the foot of Division Two, which they gave up to Shifnal after this victory.
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