Brooks and Naz Leave Beacon Sandwiched
Wellington entertained second-placed Beacon in their Division Two clash on a cold and blustery Saturday afternoon at Orleton Park.
Already buoyed by a good performance at Willey last week, the home side was further encouraged when Beacon arrived at the ground with some of their key players absent.
Pitchy was once again out-thought at the coin-toss and as a consequence saw his side asked to bat first. It was not ideal with a shorter than usual batting line-up, but the pitch looked flat enough.
Patrick Howells opened up with young Matty Simmonds; but their partnership was cut short when the former tried to pull a full ball and had his stumps uprooted.
Wellington’s innings was then rocked by the dismissals of Kevin Vaughan and Matt Denver in quick succession, both players only mustering single digit scores. When Simmonds himself was out for a disciplined 9 runs, Wellington found themselves in the familiar position of 31-4. There was still plenty to do to put a competitive total on the board.
Predictably it was Steve Pitchford who led his side’s fightback. Since returning to the side from surgery at the halfway-point of the season, the skipper has scored runs freely and in so doing has dug his side out of several sticky situations. One wonders how much of his supposed “recuperation” time was actually spent out in the garden keeping his eye in with Matt and Dan.
Pitchy (43) and Smurph (28, including a fine forehand from the back of the court) put on 54 for the fifth wicket, but then lost 3 wickets for 6 runs. Ian went precisely at the moment that his father, Dragonman Kev, arrived to watch. With his son's performance having disappointed him thoroughly, he got straight back in the car and turned around. Naz and Fishy then failed to pester the scorers and Wellington were 91-7.
Steve Brooks (13) and Pitchy combined to add a useful 30 runs for the eighth wicket by hook or by crook. After that, Wellington managed to battle their way up to 130-9 in 45 overs, which was definitely below par on the wicket. However, buoyed by last week’s bowling display at Willey, they were not without hope with such a modest total on the board.
Wellington’s chances rested upon the newly formed opening bowling partnership of Steve Brooks and Naz Akhtar. With the pair having shared 8 wickets at Willey last week they were full of confidence and both bowled remarkably well once again.
Naz struck with a great slower ball to remove the attacking Yuri Pugh in the fourth over with the score on just 10. And before the team could catch their breath, he’d claimed another victim, this time enticing a splice to gulley, which was held superbly by Kev Vaughan, who dived full length to his right to take the snaffle. Another edge was taken by Pat soon after, this one high above the head at third slip, and Beacon were in trouble. The standard of Wellington’s catching was the defining feature of the afternoon.
At this point Steve Brooks might have felt a little aggrieved that his own tight bowling was going unrewarded, whilst Naz had already bagged three wickets at the other end. He needn't have worried; he was about to deliver three wickets of his own to put Wellington within sight of an impressive victory. First, he found an edge that Pitchy caught brilliantly, ankle heigh at first slip. Then he removed two batsmen in similar fashion to catches at mid-off by Dave Ross, to the general surprise of his teammates, who doubted them all the way into his so-often-butterlike hands.
At 44-6, Beacon’s number seven Steve Rees (28) appeared to be all that stood between Wellington and victory. However, his dogged resistance began to concern the hosts in the overs after drinks as he began to accrue steady runs off Wellington’s spinners, Dave Ross and Lewis Gough, with the small victory target still well in sight. After a seventh wicket partnership of 26, Beacon finally lost another wicket (bowled Gough, caught Naz) and soon after Rees snicked behind off Ross and Wellington were clear to round out a comfortable victory.
However, the moment of the game – and perhaps the season – was yet to happen. Jack Fishman came on to bowl with Wellington needing just one wicket. Sensing his chance to be a hero, the Beacon batter Guy Leslie strained to heave one over the top, but he didn’t count on Ian Murphy hurling himself from out of camera-shot to take an outstanding one-handed catch.
The 1pm start for this fixture indicates that the season is beginning to enter its home stretch. Wellington will hope that the confidence built up after back-to-back wins with see them through to a solid finish in Division Two.
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