Final Over Defeat for 4s in King’s Field Thriller
|Man of the match:||P Miles|
|Prat of the match:||All performed admirably|
On a day that can only be described as broiling, Wick 4s entertained Ashford 4s. The Ashford skipper won the toss and elected to bat on a King’s Field surface that looked pale and flat. The ensuing match was close, well fought by both sides and very enjoyable to play in. That the ultimate result was defeat for the 4s is less important; the team played excellent cricket throughout and came away from the match with heads unbowed. Man of the match for the 4s was Phil Miles, who scored a fluent undefeated 50 and took a sharp catch during a solid fielding display.
The first half of the Ashford innings was dominated by the opening pair, who put on a stand of just over 100 during the first 20 overs. The 4s bowlers were accurate and the ground fielding was tight, but no clear-cut chances were created to break the opening stand. The two batters played and missed at some balls, but others were dispatched to the boundary. It was clear that the playing surface was very flat and that the game was likely to be high scoring. To put this opening stand into context, most 4s innings see 2 or 3 wickets taken by the new ball; opening partnerships in excess of 100 runs are extremely rare at this level of cricket.
Mandeep Singh broke the stand, when a half tracker was smacked at Tim McMullan at square leg; McMullan juggled but held the catch. Shortly afterwards, Tom McMahon deceived the other opener with flight and turn and Jacob Povah held the chance at mid-off. With both well set - if hot and tired - batters now removed the 4s had a chance to try to keep the Ashford total within reasonable limits. This was achieved during a period of play that was perhaps the best bowling and fielding display that the 4s have produced this season. The bowlers kept nagging accuracy with line and length and were supported by fielding that including one mis-field, no dropped catches and further chances held by Phil Miles and Zak Collier. Ross Cathcart (8-0-31-1), Ben Longhurst (8-0-25-3) and Jacob Povah (7-0-34-1) each worked very hard, bowling seam up in the 30+ degree conditions. Longhurst was the pick of the seamers and was rewarded for bowling at the stumps with 3 wickets. Slower bowling duties were shared between McMullan (4-0-19-0), Singh (6-0-36-1), Nick Dunmore (2-0-12-0) and McMahon (5-0-24-1). McMahon showed excellent control with his off-breaks, along with significant turn. It was his best bowling performance for the 4s and could easily have seen McMahon take further wickets. Ashford reached a 40 over total of 206-7, which was 30-40 runs less than appeared likely at the half-way point of the innings. A word at this point on the 4s keeper, Ben Houghton, who had a super day behind the stumps. Keeping wicket in the heat is one of the hardest roles in a cricket team, especially at 4s level when there are plenty of balls delivered down the leg-side. Throughout the innings, Houghton dealt with anything that was fired at him, whilst maintaining verbal support to the bowlers and fielders. As a key member of the 4s team, Houghton is always at the centre of the effort in the field, and this match perfectly illustrates his importance to the team. Ashford reached a 40 over total of 206-7, which was 30-40 runs less than appeared likely at the half-way point of the innings.
Over Ken’s wonderful tea the 4s tried to recover fluids and to cool down. Energy levels were surprisingly high for some players, though the bowlers looked pretty tired. Houghton and Dunmore discussed the batting order, with both realising that they had to come in lower than usual as both had over-heated and were in no fit state to bat. To chase a total in excess of 200 was a tough ask, but one that could be achieved if the 4s batted sensibly and with far more application than the week before.
Regular opener Dipesh Morjaria was joined by Povah as the 4s reply began. Both looked solid; blocking straight balls and attacking anything wide of off-stump. With the score on 25, Povah (12) was dismissed. Next man in was Longhurst (0), elevated in the order due to needing to leave for a family commitment, he came and went quickly. Morjaria was then joined by Singh and the 3rd wicket pair put together an excellent partnership. Morjaria batted in his usual manner, running aggressively between the wickets and taking on anything wide or short. At the other end Singh played himself in before unfurling exquisite extra-cover drives. As the score mounted the heads of the Ashford players began to drop. It was a surprise when Singh (29) was dismissed with the score on 75 in the 19th over. The partnership of 49 had given the 4s a platform from which to push for victory.
Next man in was Miles, who joined Morjaria with the team needing 6 runs per over for the remainder of the innings. Miles looking comfortable from the start of his innings and played drives and cuts that accelerated the run rate. The pair put on an excellent partnership of 70, before a very tired Morjaria was dismissed for 47. Once again, Morjaria had laid a foundation for the 4s batting effort. Collier (4) joined Miles briefly before falling to an aerial stroke. Skipper Dunmore then joined Miles hoping to add some power to the push to victory. The equation facing the pair was 52 runs from 8 overs. Aggressive running was needed along with the odd boundary. The pair ran 1s and 2s, pushing the Ashford fielders, but were unable to hit anything further. The Ashford bowling was accurate which kept the pressure on the 4s pair. Miles (52*) hit one boundary, but Dunmore (18*) could not locate his timing. The pair fell a mere 5 runs short of the winning score.
The teams exchanged handshakes, and everyone agreed that the match had been a great one to be part of. The result could have gone either way and therefore Ashford deserved their victory. Miles had produced a super innings that had propelled the 4s to the verge of a victory, on another day victory would have been the outcome. Well batted Phil!
Next week the 4s travel to Staines