Sheriff Hutton CC v Pudsey St Lawrence
Blacksheep Yorkshire Champions First Round.
By Reg Nelson
As the League President Keith Moss took his place, resplendent in sun hat in front of the pavilion, Sheriff Hutton chose to bat first and took 12 runs off the first over bowled by Charlie Parker.
The home team were playing shots from the word go, but Richie Lamb unsettled the openers with the occasional genuine bouncer. Nevertheless, the openers Louis Foxton and Mark Fisher – the latter playing like a `pinch-hitter’, were scoring at six an over. Left-hander Foxton played one shot too many but escaped when Callam Goldthorpe put dawn an absolute `dolly’ in the covers.
Lamb espoused to a spectator that the wicket was like a `road’ and intimated that it would be one long day for the Saints.
When Foxton (35) and Fisher (24) where parted by Chris Marsden and Charlie Parker respectively, the score stood at a healthy 89-2 in the nineteenth over.
A surprise rain shower took the players off for a while resulting in each team losing four overs. This was not considered a disadvantage for the home side because they were hardly pacing their innings.
Sheriff Hutton Bridge continued their rapid strike rate with No.3 batsman Sam Anthony taking the eye with 66 well struck runs. He was followed by Robert Pinder (41) and Adam Fisher (35) who set the scene for a score approaching anything between 275-300.
The persevering left-arm seamer Parker illustrated what a find he is proving to be by accounting for the Fisher brothers, and the dangerous Anthony.
At 202-3 with seven overs left Sheriff Hutton was in the box seat with the Saints uncharacteristically dropping three catches.
Then, off-spinner Stevie Watts, who had shrewdly been held back by skipper James Smith, brought some order to the proceedings. Proving hard to get away, he snared Alex Ibbotson (9), Freddie Collins (3) and Stephen Croft (0) in a superb spell of 9.2 overs, three wickets for 41.
Sheriff Hutton Bridge had to settle for a much more manageable 236 all-out, much to the relief of the Saints coach load of supporters who swamped the home crowd.
It was a real test of character for the Saints who fought back splendidly to take the mantle of favourites going into tea.
Parker was the most successful bowler with 4-51, but his fellow seamer Lamb gave nothing away in two spells.
Chris Marsden came on at a critical time and despite bowling to batters who were scoring freely stuck to his task manfully. His figures of 1-52 off ten overs give no indication of the effort he put in.
Lacking Tom Hudson the Saints had to use James Smith and Barrie Frankland to fill the fifth bowler role and the former bowled with fire but no luck.
The Saints were off to a flier in their quest for 237, with both openers Adam Waite and Mark Robertshaw striking early boundaries. However, Mark Fisher was bowling with genuine pace and when he got his direction right the batters had to be very watchful.
This proved to be the case when he had Waite (21) caught behind after he played a tentative drive. When Robertshaw (17) dabbled outside his off stump at a Freddie Collins delivery and was caught by Anthony, the game had taken a different route at 41-2.
It was left to Barrie Frankland and Goldthorp to repair the damage as the bowling dominated for the next few overs.
Gradually, the Saints turned the corner with some excellent running between the wickets, and both batters waiting for the bad bowl to punish.
Just as the batting side were on top Frankland was dismissed for 27 with the score 106-3 with 25 overs left.
This brought in Chris Marsden, who silenced the jibes from a section of the home crowd, by striking two boundaries from characteristic pulled shots.
Goldthorp was dismissed for a fine 53 from 68 balls, which included seven boundaries, with the score now 147-4. He had batted at a crisis time and helped to put his team in a winning position with an innings that mixed caution with aggression.
With the clouds threatening rain, and run rate calculations possible, James Smith launched two sixes to put his team on the front foot.
Smith then settled into a watchful partnership with Marsden as they slowly took the sting out of the attack.
At 206-4 and eight overs to go it was a surprise when Smith played an unwise shot to be dismissed by spinner Foxton for 45.
However, his inning which included three fours and three sixes, took his side to within striking distance.
With Marsden batting with great authority it was left to the new batsman Matthew Duce to play prudently to take his side home.
Unfortunately, after a rocky start which included a splendidly driven four, he took on the longest boundary with an aerial shot that was comfortably caught on the boundary edge.
The rapid Mark Fisher was brought back as Sheriff Hutton Bridge smelt blood. The move succeeded as he dismissed second teamer Harry Cullingford, who only lasted two balls, and then the key batter Marsden who skied one to Robinson.
Marsden’s 37 in 47 balls was priceless, but his effort was in danger of being thrown away by his colleagues.
At 221-8 with 14 balls to go the match became a lottery with new batters Lamb and Watts at the crease, and the pressure piling on. In the penultimate over they scrambled seven runs to reduce the target to five off the last over.
The large Saints travelling contingent was quietened with the tension as both Lamb and Watts tried to hit the boundary to at least tie the match. With two needed with two balls to go Lamb battered a Russell Robinson delivery to the boundary to win an epic match by two wickets.
The Saints might have made heavy weather of a match they were coasting, but at least they are assured in the knowledge that they reached the semi-finals where they will play Aston Hall away on August 7.
Yorkshire bowler Matthew Fisher was in attendance at his home league club watching his two brothers. He later tweeted that the match was a great advert for league cricket and an unbelievable standard.