Jitters In Powys
Wellington staged a remarkable comeback with the ball to salvage a draw at Welshpool and move back into the promotion places in Division Two.
It was a day of comebacks all round with Warwick Vaughan and Harry Gaughan both bolstering Pitchy’s ranks after a couple of seasons out of the game. However it would be the team's performance in the second innings that would steal the headlines as Wellington dragged themselves from probable defeat to the cusp of victory in a stirring late reversal of fortunes.
For only the second time this season, the Wellington skipper lost the toss and found his boys thrown in on what looked like a good wicket. Having spent much of the season protecting his average, Pitchy finally threw himself in the deep end in this one, opening up the innings with Wazza, who once more donned his trademarked tinted spectacles in a Wellington shirt. The pair made steady but unspectacular progress before the latter got wrapped on the pads. After some consideration, Umpire Greeny lifted his finger and sent Warwick storming back to the pavilion spewing a vengeful tirade.
It was a brave decision from the umpire to find against the one-time cage-fighting maniac. Thankfully for Greeny, in what amounts to his very own Greek Bailout, he's in Crete for the next two weeks, which should give Warwick enough time to calm down.
In at three was Smurph, but his short stay was ended after the ball clattered into the stumps via his inside edge, thigh pad and scrotum. Number four Matty Simmonds didn't last much longer before he also lost his sticks.
Pitchy was then joined by Harry Gaughan, who, having not picked up a bat in over two years, would not have relished an outing at 32 for 3. Attention now turned to the skipper, whose fortunes appeared to be tied to his side’s hopes of a defend-able total. The pair began to build a steady partnership, but soon after drinks Pitchy (42) was bamboozled by spinner Robert Anderson and Wellington were four-down for 69.
The skipper was replaced by his son, Matty, who made 42 as well, in what felt very much like the changing of the guard in the Pitchford household. Matty’s fine knock included some lovely shots down the ground, which had his dad moaning from the sidelines. “Why can’t I hit it that cleanly?” At the other end, Interracial Gaughan (37) was also finding his range. Their quick-fire partnership of 72 clearly demoralised the Welshpool players, who must have felt they were amongst their visitors after a strong opening ten.
Wellington might have made more than their total of 165 for 7 had Harry not been dismissed by a fantastic catch from Tom Anderson in the deep with five overs left. Still from the perilous station of 32 for 3, everyone was happy with the score on the board, which was definitely something to bowl at.
Fishy and George kept the new ball after their strong showings against Condover last week, but they were not rewarded for their efforts this time around, at least not in wickets. Still, Wellington restricted the flow to the opening pair, offering up few cheap scoring opportunities before drinks.
Gaughany, Rosco and Goughy kept up the pressure on the Welshpool batters, but a breakthrough could not be found. It began to feel like this wouldn't be their day, as the home side advanced steadily to 92 without loss, from where it seemed they would mount a controlled and comfortable assault on their victory target.
However when Paul Champman (45) carved a full toss from Goughy to Fishman at cover, the Welshpool team appeared to suffer some sort of collective breakdown. Soon after, the moustachioed Dan Chodecki fell, undone by Lewis’ deadly quicker ball. Then number four Tom Anderson pushed one to Smurph, who held on to a waist-high catch at silly-mid-off. The optimistic batsman stood his ground claiming a bump-ball, but the umpire let him down gently.
Of course at 92 for 3 Welshpool were still favourites for the match, but incredibly the opposition now looked a nervous wreck. One of their batsmen was even heard mumbling about how they’d “frigged this up” - with only four an over still required!
Wellington sensed blood and circled the bat as Goughy and Rosco began to water-board the opposition with maidens at both ends. Welshpool’s progress became glacial - and then critical. Ross spun one through the gate to dismiss the remaining opener, Roger Knight, who went for 29. Goughy was not to be outdone and added two more to his rapidly increasing tally: a stumping; and then a fantastic catch at mid-on by Gaughany. At 113 for 6 with six overs remaining, Wellington were now sensing an unlikely victory.
Number seven Rob Pengelly (14) got hold of a couple for Welshpool, who fought hard to reverse the tide of the match and never went into their shells until the final over. Wellington might have been made to pay when skipper Pitchy put him down at mid-off, straight after a close run-out had been refused by the umpire. However panic never set in, and Ross extinguished that particular threat in the next over.
Gaughany returned to the attack and claimed a wicket for himself. This time it was held by Pitchy at mid-off, who had come to grasp the seriousness of the situation and dispensed with the juggling, back-rolling and general Sea World clownery he had been showcasing all afternoon.
With that catch the skipper set up a grandstand finish: two wickets were required off Goughy’s final over. Whilst the leg-spinner produced one, it was unfortunately with the last ball of the game, which meant Wellington never had a shot at outright victory. Given that number eleven was playing in a white Everton away shirt, one ball at Peter Reid might have been all it needed!
Wellington played some of the their finest cricket of the season in this game - led by Lewis Gough, whose 6 for 58 deserves all the plaudits. One more wicket would have given the team a massive ten points extra, but it was hard to be disappointed after such a stirring comeback. Meanwhile, a shock defeat for Willey saw Pitchy’s boys move back into the league's promotion places, albeit by a solitary point. Up next: Prees, at home.