Rat's Acrobatics Can't Stop Cound
Wellington 4th XI finally got their season underway on Saturday following their opening day postponement at Lilleshall.
Cound’s second string were the visitors to Orleton Park on a day characterized by long periods of cold drizzle, interspersed by sharp bouts of sunlight.
The Rat won the toss and challenged the opposition to withstand Wellington's menacing seam duo of Naz Akhtar and Azaad Rafiq. However, the Cound openers were undaunted by the prospect, dodging and weaving their way through the first ten overs, making slow and steady progress. Indeed, as the game approached the drinks interval, they were really beginning to find their feet, and scoring freely.
But then, like a bolt from the blue, the innings’ stand-out moment turned the tide back in favour of the home team. Macintosh, untroubled on 41, fired a well-hit shot back over bowler Jon Black’s head. Anticipating another boundary, the batter could only watch as Derick Benting hurled himself from mid-off to execute a one-handed snatch (taken almost directly behind the bowler) that would grace any game. Whilst the skipper was keen to take the plaudits, there was a clear suspicion that his acrobatics were more about avoiding a long chase than holding the catch.
Nevertheless, Wellington had their breakthrough - and suddenly a spring in their step. Black extracted two more batsmen – one to a startling slip catch by Alan Denver – whilst David Ross laid waste to the middle order with a disciplined spell of slow bowling. The game had turned right around. With wickets tumbling in all directions, Naz Akhtar returned to mop up the tail, adding four clean-bowleds to his earlier exertions. Cound’s last nine wickets, combined, failed to amass as many runs as their opening pair, setting Wellington just 158 for victory in their 50 overs.
Wellington’s reply was punctuated all-too-often by the fall of sloppy wickets. Both openers succumbed in the teens (Jamie Micklewright 16, Derick Benting 15), with only Alan Denver (26) keeping the scorers on their toes. When he fell, caught in the deep, the hosts’ young tail fell like a line of dominoes against some disciplined bowling, backed up by smart catching.
Ultimately, it was a meek reply after a hard-fought bowling display. However, the first innings certainly contained enough positives to carry forward into what promises to be a very challenging season in a tough division.