A Touch Of Glas
Wellington 3rds stretched their winning run to four games with a hard-earned victory at Cae Glas.
For Steve Pitchford’s men, the build-up to this one was far from ideal. Before they’d even left the club, Lewis Gough had scared the life out of his captain by insisting he had picked twelve men by mistake. The issue went to several re-counts and it became clear that numeracy isn’t the young spinner’s strength.
So the eleven men of Wellington made their way off to Oswestry, which on this particular morning meant sitting in Bank Holiday traffic for over an hour and arriving just 25 minutes before the start time. So far, so bad – but worse was to come.
Pitchy’s blood pressure soon went through the roof when it became apparent that, despite the drive over seeing the slowest-moving away convoy in cricket history, one of the cars had detached from the rest and gotten lost.
Quite where Lewis and his driver Kev Vaughan were was anybody’s guess. An irate Pitchy barked the postcode for the ground down the phone to them, but their Sat Nav was having none of it, delivering them instead to a cul-de-sac on the other side of the town.
Luckily at this point Wellington’s stray duo were able to get directions to a cricket ground; however it wasn’t the one Wellington were playing at. Instead, it was Morda Road, home of Oswestry CC. By the time they actually arrived at Cae Glas, their teammates we already out in the field and the skipper was trying to figure out how best to arrange his seven fielders.
Wellington’s preparation hadn't been perfect, but it still beat the build-up to their visit to Cae Glas a few seasons back. On that occasion, play was briefly delayed whilst a passed-out drug addict was shooed from the outfield. Oswestry's reputation as the “Bogata of the Borders" is built on such legends.
Christ knows what that poor junkie would have made of Wellington’s flying start this time around. Even through a ketamine haze, a score of 17-6 after 15 overs would seem far-fetched.
Pitchy had pulled off a massive coup by winning the toss on a very green wicket. Naturally he unleashed the devastating duo of Steve Brooks and Naz Akhtar on the Cae Glas batters.
When Andy Griffiths was clean-bowled by Naz off the first ball of the game, the tone for the opening exchanges had been set. The pitch was seaming wildly and before long Wellington’s gold-toothed opener had two more wickets: one bowled middle-stump and one caught behind in Murph’s webbing.
At the other end, Brooksy claimed four wickets himself. The Cae Glas batsmen were unable to cope as the ball continued to pop up off the damp surface and this brought about smart catches from Matty Pitchford and Bruce, as well as a terrific caught and bowled.
Since coming into the side, Wellington’s new opening pair has taken 21 wickets out of a possible 30. Amazing stuff.
Despite Wellington being well in control of proceedings, it was clear that one of their younger players had a problem. Jack Fishman had been complaining about a chest injury all day and after some interrogation he eventually revealed the cause of his discomfort. It turns out that he had been on the end of a head-butt, delivered Zidane-style to the chest, whilst playing football during the week. Apparently, his opponent had objected to his robust tackling.
Given that Fishy isn’t the tallest 15-year-old around, it didn’t take a genius to work out that, realistically, only an Under 11 could have butted him so low.
Meanwhile, the Cae Glas batters were hanging on as Naz and Brooksy continued to put them under pressure. But things would gradually begin to get easier. Aidan Martyn (25) anchored a mini-fight-back for the hosts, which was a concern for the visitors as it was still uncertain what a good score might be on this pitch.
Wellington had missed their chance to bowl the side out for a token score. Tim Turner (21*) and Keith Yapp (18, bad back and all) dragged their side up to 93-9 off 40 overs. Whilst this looked straightforward, the boys would need to apply themselves properly with the bat to earn the victory given the nature of the surface.
When Kevin Vaughan (0) and Bruce Harris (7) fell early, Wellington’s much-changed batting line-up suddenly looked very vulnerable. In these testing circumstances, youngsters Henry Davies and Matthew Pitchford impressed with their temperament, and the former was unlucky to chop onto his stumps on 5, which reduced the side to 21-3.
Ian Murphy came to the crease with a weight of responsibility on his shoulders. He was one of the two remaining senior batters amongst the Wellington ranks and, with Pitchy hiding himself down at Number Seven, it would fall on him to score the majority of the runs needed for victory.
Murph watched, left and nurdled his way through it, assisting Pitchford Jnr (5) – and then Fishman (9) – through a difficult spell before drinks. He was particularly crucial in putting the latter’s mind at ease: Jack was clearly concerned that his nemesis from football might show up at any minute, along with the rest of the Anthill Mob.
Ian eventually found the going easier as he acclimatized to the surface and added some lusty blows towards the end of his innings. Even Cae Glas’s mysterious band of hipster supporters couldn’t help but dip their fedoras in recognition of his audacious stroke play, which shifted the momentum back the visitors.
When Murph was eventually out, Wellington needed just 20 runs to win with four wickets in hand. Captain Pitchford (11*) and Naz Akhtar (7*) accomplished the task efficiently and sealed their side’s fourth consecutive win in what is turning out be a great second half to the season.
Given the start Wellington had made in this game, one could say they made hard work of it in the end. However, there is a lot to be taken from the way they dug in and ground out a victory in such trying conditions. Up next, Bishops Castle at home.
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