Condover Edge Table-Top Clash
Wellington 3rds missed the opportunity to finish the first half of the season top of the table after losing at home to Condover.
In the heat of a beautiful July afternoon, Wellington’s young openers got to work after Pitchy won the toss and inserted the league leaders.
Jack Fishman looked full of confidence after last week’s promotion to the second team and it was not long before he had bagged the first wicket of the afternoon. Probing away short of a length, he found the shoulder of opener Langton’s bat and the ball looped tamely to Bruce at gully.
At the other end, George “the Analyst” Topper was finding his rhythm and produced a beauty which just left Condover captain Reynolds, but not before kissing his outside edge. A carbon copy down the other end for Fishy and Wellington had the start they needed, with three wickets in the first ten overs.
Ryan Barnett and David Ross took up where the openers had left off and continued to pile on the pressure. After a short period of attrition, Barney got his reward for a fine spell when his clever slower ball resulted in a caught-and-bowled. Although, that probably doesn’t tell the whole story: after all, how many caught-and-bowleds do you see at wide mid-on? It was an outstanding piece of fielding by the youngster to sprint into the vacant position and take the catch over his shoulder.
Barney’s catch no doubt inspired his delivery in the following over, which clean bowled Condover’s Phillips. And Wellington moved further ahead when Rosco trapped another batsman in front, leaving Condover struggling at 80 for 6.
Some counter-punching from the lower order got the visitors into the batting points and back into the game, before three quick wickets from spin twins Ross and Gough took Wellington to the brink of bowling the leaders out at 133 for 9.
Unfortunately it was not quite so simple. Condover’s last pair Rogers and Mansell (35) put on 48 for the final wicket, dragging their side up to a par score and somewhat taking the wind out of Wellington’s sails.
Nevertheless the home side still had a fair chance of chasing that score down in the second innings with what was a strong batting line-up. When drinks were taken at 15 overs Wellington were rattling along quite nicely. Despite losing Alex Taylor early on to a short and wide delivery, which he sadly steered down point’s throat, Ryan Barnett and Matthew Dickenson had weathered the storm and looked like setting up a home victory.
However within minutes of the squash break, the game had completely turned around. Firstly Barney was bowled for 30, then Simmo snicked the spinner behind and was caught at slip.
Enter Bruce Harris who diligently patted back his first handful of deliveries before seizing upon a short ball and striking it to the boundary. As his teammates applauded, the big Zimbabwean appeared to break into a celebratory jig. It soon became clear that was in fact pain and he was limping around in a lot of distress. As the Condover players carried him from the field, Bruce reported that his Achilles Tendon had gone.
Wellington were now effectively four wickets down and worse was to come when Pitchy was trapped in front two balls in and was shown on his way by umpire Greeny.
At 85 for 4 (or 5), the game had changed beyond measure and a lot now rested on Dicko, who continued to look unruffled at the other end. However, he very quickly began to run out of partners as first Duncs, then - in quick succession - Fishy, George and Goughy succumbed. All four had been in attendance for the Brendon McCullum Show on Friday night: Wellington were in need of heroics on that scale, but sadly it was not to be.
There followed a more lengthy partnership between Dicko and Rosco (30), but that relied mainly on the former’s ability to maneuver the bespectacled tailender away from the strike. Wellington finished 50 runs short, losing their ninth and final wicket when Matty was bowled by a ball that kept low and clattered into his off-stump.
So Wellington closed the first half of the season with a defeat, but there was no shame in losing to a strong Condover side, who are clearly top of the league on merit. Meanwhile, only two defeats in the first half of the season bodes well for the home side, who have relied heavily on the promising performances of their U16 players to elevate them to third in the league. More of the same and this can still be a very memorable season for the 3rds.
Finally the last word to Bruce Harris, who suffered a really terrible injury on Saturday, which will put him out for the rest of the season. The lengths our players will go to get out of next week’s away game at Welshpool knows no bounds! Here’s to a strong recovery and to having you back out with us in 2016, Bruce.