Pitchy Reads The Riot Act To Hapless Shrewsbury
Wellington 3rds stormed to the top of the table after putting nine-man Shrewsbury to the sword.
It’s fair to say that SCAT - the venue for Saturday’s encounter - falls into the category of “grounds at which you want to win the toss.” So it was to everyone's relief that 3rd team captain Steve Pitchford managed just that this weekend, sending the opposition in on an extremely grassy wicket.
Whilst the Wellington players got changed into their whites and bowling spikes, the Shrewsbury lads set about making holes for the stumps, as none had been prepared. Whilst you couldn't fault their effort, the game ended up being played out with two bizarre trapezoid wickets, one of which would allow a cricket ball to pass straight through the stumps without touching the sides!
Ben Keeble took the new ball having mercifully shook off the gypsy curse that had blighted him against Cae Glas. This week he got exactly what he deserved: his 11 overs served up just 20 runs and brought three wickets, including the first of the afternoon. It was just the third over and set the tone for a strong start by the Wellington bowlers.
Fellow opener Jack Fishman bowled tightly in his seven-over spell, but lacked the zip of his last appearance. One possible explanation might be the Swanton Bomb inflicted on him by his dad after last Saturday’s game in a show of parental affection reminiscent of the late Chris Benoit.
David Ross came into the attack and collected another wicket as the Wellington bowlers began to put the screws on the Shrewsbury top-order, who had slumped to 53 for 4 by drinks.
Around this point it became clear that Shrewsbury were light on numbers. In fact they only had nine players at the ground, with two missing and apparently on their way. This prompted Pitchy to reach for the rulebook - quite literally - and try to figure out what the laws were regarding late arrivals. Nothing says village cricket like the sight of the skipper fingering through the League Handbook between deliveries from mid-on.
Whilst Pitchy’s team-mates and Facebook friends marvelled at this unexpected show of literacy, two wickets for Owais Abdul and one for Jonny Black left his side needing just one more to take Shrewsbury’s reduced complement of eight. Unfortunately some questionable catching and various misfields let the hosts off the hook. The Salopians rallied to 139 for 7 in their 45 overs thanks to a handy last-wicket stand of 35.
On the balance of play the Wellington boys felt this was around 25 too many and, on a wildly unpredictable wicket, it still ranked as a challenging total. Nevertheless they could enjoy their drive to tea knowing that half the job was surely done, bearing in mind the opposition would only have nine fielders.
Wellington got their chase off to a solid start thanks to old-stager Duncan Taylor (34) and a generous smattering of extras. Although Matty Simmonds was caught in the crease for just one, and Corey Kernick wasted only one ball in picking up the TFC Award (although he may have already had it in the bag after spaffing his orange squash over during tea), panic never set in amongst the visitors’ ranks.
Sam Topper - near tears earlier in the day after Ipswich’s surrender in the Old Farm Derby - composed himself. Emotions in check, he proved to be the cool head the situation demanded and was there at the end on 29 not out.
When Duncan snicked off, the skipper came to the crease and added power and urgency to the Wellington chase. As he and Topper ruthlessly took advantage of the missing two fielders, Shrewsbury became visibly dejected and the game moved towards its natural conclusion. Pitchy brought up the victory in the 37th over with a boundary, notching up a points-grabbing but wallet-saving 49 not out.
With three wins from a possible three (plus one abandonment), Wellington have started the season very strongly. Up next for the new league leaders are Church Stretton at home.