Innings of: St Michael's
Run rate: 1-7 2-9 3-15 4-30 5-38 6-39 7-41 8-41 9-44 10-51 11-61 12-66 13-85 14-99 15-106
Innings of: Monks Park II
Run rate: 1-2 2-13 3-15 4-24 5-25 6-36 7-44 8-58 9-64 10-68 11-74 12-84 13-92 14-96 15-103
St Michael's won a nail biting Garnett Plate semi-final over Monks Park 2s at the Racecourse on Wednesday evening, and so secured a return to the County Ground 2 years after their last and only previous appearance at the home of Northamptonshire cricket.
Despite a scheduled start time of 6:15, the start of the game was delayed as Monks Park players came along in dribs and drabs. St Michael's skipper Ian Geddes won the toss and elected to bat, hoping to make use of the lack of a full opposition. But the umpires didn’t allow play to start until 6:30, by which time Monks Park had 9 players.
The St Michael's innings started cautiously, with openers Dale Harrison and Vince Cross happy to take some early singles. But then Harrison was bowled by Atley, brining the diminutive Dave Tebbutt to the crease. He wasted no time in showing what his intentions were, swinging the bat like an orchestra conductor waves a baton at anything and everything. He made a quick fire 17 before being caught of the bowling of McKay. Next ball Vince Cross was also out caught, leaving the score at 39 for 3 off 6 overs.
The run rate then dried up big time, with only 6 runs coming off 5 overs, with veteran Malc Swann and the young Will Kingston content in establishing themselves. Swann never came to grips with the slow pitch, and was out caught, skying one to Monks Park skipper Dave White.
That brought Brian The Bear Ahearn to the wicket. And just as if he were standing in front of a huge buffet, he tucked in to the Monks Park bowling with gusto. He hit 2 sixes in a cameo innings, with Abid taking the brunt of the attack, with his third over going for 19 runs. At the other end, Will Kingston was striking the ball with aplomb, hitting a classy 33 not out to add to his good knock in the previous round.
St Michael's ended up with 106 in their 15 overs. A solid total, but would it be enough?
In reply, the veteran Swann opened the attack with some tight bowling of the highest order. His 4 overs went for a miserly 12, including the first wicket of the innings as he bowled McKay for 7. At the other end, skipper Ian Geddes was also bowling well, but the odd bad ball was being despatched, with Abid being particularly ruthless. Mobley was also looking to attack, and he hit a couple of sixes off Geddes and Andy Wilson, but he was eventually removed by Martin Baker. The first ball of his second over kept low, and with Mobley on the back foot he was unable to react in time as the ball rattled first against pad then bat. The umpire raised his finger, much to Mobley’s angst, and he let the official know of his displeasure in no uncertain terms.
Monks Park were always up with the required run rate of 7 an over, so that with 2 overs left 15 runs were required, less than a run a ball. Andy Wilson bowled the penultimate over, and almost had the dangerous Abid caught, but skipper Ian Geddes put down a difficult chance. However 2 balls later Wilson got his man as Abid once again took to the air, only for Malc Swann to take a good stretching catch on the run. Andy Wilson ended up bowling a superb over, yielding only 4 runs, meaning Monk’s Park needed 11 to win off the last over, or 10 to tie and win on losing fewer wickets.
Martin Baker stepped up to bowl, and what an over it turned out to be. He used his years of experience to make the ball swing and seam, varying his pace and direction to leave Ajaz swinging at thin air. Foreman at the non striker’s end made known his feelings with some helpful advice to Ajaz that he couldn’t afford not to score any runs. Top advice that.
With a scrambled bye off the sixth ball of the over, Monks Park needed 7 to tie with 2 balls remaining, 8 to win. Baker stepped up to bowl, and Foreman hit a crisp shot to mid off, which should have resulted in no more than a couple of runs. But St Michael's skipper Ian Geddes had other ideas and fumbled the ball over the boundary for 4 runs. Oh how he held his head in shame.
One ball left, 4 to win, or 3 to tie and win on losing on fewer wickets. Baker stepped up, and seeing Foreman step away to leg, bowled a slower delivery that followed the batsman and hit him on the pad. No run, game over and St Michael's in the final. Foreman couldn’t help show his displeasure by launching some expletives in the direction of Baker and the umpire, showing a distinct lack of humility in defeat.
And so to another final at the County Ground. And there they will face fellow Section 2 side Trinity Orchard, who defeated Section 1 veterans Doddridge in match that also went down to the last ball, with Trinity winning with the scores tide, but having lost 1 fewer wickets.