The Dog Days Of Summer
By David Ross
Wellington 3rds moved to within one win of promotion after a hard-fought victory at Much Wenlock.
Defending 153, Division Two’s bottom side put up a brave fight, reducing Steve Pitchford’s men to 65 for 5 at one stage before Dicko (24) and Gaughany (40*) resuscitated the innings and put their side on the course for victory.
After last week’s victory over Ellesmere and the subsequent abandonment of their fixture this week, the 3rds sit 30 points clear of their nearest promotion rivals with two games to play.
Despite entering one of the crunch fixtures of the season, Wellington minds were badly distracted in the run-up to the game after a disturbing revelation about the interesting private lives of the skipper’s dog and cat.
Worryingly, they do say that dogs take after their owners, so God knows what species Pitchy will try to mount if his team get promoted next week. Mr Holt better fetch the sheep in.
The Wenlock pitch looked to be on the wet side, so there was no surprise when the skipper chose to bowl first.
With no Sam Topper to lead the line, a curve ball was thrown, with leggie Lewis Gough being given the new pill. He had a wicket in his second over as the plan came off. Wellington had begun positively.
Soon there was another victim for the diminutive spinner, as the other opener's drive was sliced to the grateful Harry Gaughan at cover. It could have been more had Fishy reacted to a chance at short fine-leg, but he opted to leave it instead. *Awaits bite*
Thereafter Wellington toiled, with Wenlock pair Cooke (63) and Howley (58) recovering their side’s poor start and causing the visiting captain some concern, albeit without ever really threatening to take the game away.
Eventually Howley was removed to a smart catch by Dicko off Simmo’s bowling and Wellington began to accelerate through the home side’s line-up. Rabbit hunter Dave Ross took another jug-avoiding four-fer, whilst Lewis returned to remove Cooke, who was by this stage running out of partners.
When Dicko claimed the ninth-wicket the innings was unexpectedly brought to a halt. Apparently Wenlock’s eleventh man needed to attend to urgent marital issues, so was unable to take to the crease. The hosts had to stick on their total of 153 and surrendered two overs of the first dig.
Richard Benting gave Wellington a similar start to that conjured up against Ellesmere, bludgeoning a quick 48 at the top of the innings, including a huge six that had the nearby lawn bowlers running for cover.
However Tug's innings lacked support and when he was eventually dismissed he had already lost partners Shoehorn (4) and Pat (0). Simmo (3) and Smurph (0) followed quickly and Wellington were suddenly in trouble at 65 for 5.
There then followed a tense period of play with Dicko and Gaughany playing themselves in and finding scoring difficult. However they were successful in negotiating the best of the home side’s bowling, arresting the Wellington collapse.
Both men grew into the game, forcing Wenlock onto the back foot with excellent running between the wicket. As they took the score past 100 they began to find the boundaries regularly - and Wenlock heads dropped accordingly.
It was therefore a bit of surprise when Dicko top-edged a sweep for 24 with his side still requiring 30 to win. Luckily the skipper was hiding himself down at eight again, so the finish was not as close as it might have been, especially as Gaughany was now batting with fluency.
Not even an on-field incursion by a local spaniel could distract the Wellington batters from the job at hand. The canine invader had clearly heard about Pitchy’s laissez-faire moggy and wanted in on the action - but the skipper was in no mood to be handing out phone numbers with a crucial game to be won.
The 3rds got home with nearly five overs to spare and face Willey next week. Victory will guarantee promotion to Division One.