Wellington No Answer To Farmy Army
Straddling the Welsh border, the quaint ground at Pecknall Farm was the setting for Wellington’s clash with Alberbury Stiffs on Saturday.
Even before the match began there were signs that the day might not go exactly to plan, especially when half the team pitched up at the wrong farm – to the bemusement of both livestock and staff.
Wellington’s travelling side was buoyed by the availability of former third-team skipper and snappy dresser Duncan Taylor. Modeling a rather fetching reindeer-themed snood - making him look rather like the head of a Mexican drug cartel - Taylor had clearly been planning his comeback attire for several weeks.
Having lost the toss, Wellington were asked to bat first on a menacing looking wicket. When openers Debenham and Benting fell cheaply, only to be followed quickly back to the hut by Bruce Harris and Big Duncs, the tone for the innings was set. Four down with barely 15 overs on the board, Wellington looked certain to be heading back down the A458 in time for tea.
Whilst Alan Denver (22) and Azaad Rafiq (29) batted well to steady the innings, it was largely thanks to a generous smattering of wides and no balls that Wellington had reached 100-7 by the 30th over. It was at this point that Wellington’s long and vulnerable tail answered their calling. David Ross and Jonathan Black came together to offer stolid resistance, but when Black was run out, the real star of the innings entered the fray.
Making his first appearance of the season, Mike Nadal had arrived to the game with a brand new pair of spikes under his arm and his hair four shades darker than last September. Rumours were rife that the wiley slow bowler had been reaching for the Just For Men over the winter.
To the total disbelief of almost everyone present, Nadal unleashed a blistering cameo of pinch-hitting that would have had Chris Gayle purring in admiration – and successfully deflected all attention from his touched-up Barnett. When he departed for 25 in the last over, he and Ross had added 41 for the ninth wicket, moving the score along to a defendable, if below-par, 174.
Wellington’s reply lacked nothing in terms of commitment. The skipper set the tone in this regard, stopping a blistering drive with his shinbone in the opening exchanges. It was noted that a Benting had not gone down so dramatically since the Brooklands Co-op was robbed.
During the crucial opening period, Naz Akhtar made the visitors’ solitary breakthrough, bowling Butler for 10. However, it was the second wicket partnership that would be the telling one, as Kurt Finnigan (62) and Jamie Brooks (71) came together to break Wellington’s spirits. There were near misses, of course, off Naz, Azaad and the first-change bowling of Jonny Black, but Lady Luck seemed to have packed her bags, as the Alberbury batsmen capitalized heavily on the short boundary to one side.
By the time Mike Nadal removed both batsmen, at around the 30-over mark, the game was long gone. However, this did not protect the hosts against a mini-collapse as Lewis Gough (2-34) excelled in the latter stages.
Whilst Alberbury ultimately limped to a total they always seemed likely to cruise past, Wellington were left to ponder what might have been had they broken the game’s stand-out partnership a little earlier.
Match report by David Ross