Benwell Hill CC U13s (106-4) v Morpeth CC Arrows U13s (125-6)
Morpeth got back to winning ways thanks to impressive batting performances from several key players.
The visitors recovered well from the early departure of Elliott Clark. Nathan Byatt continues to impress with his straight hitting and looked to punish any bad deliveries – he delighted his team’s supporters with an array of excellent shots which were struck with extreme confidence.
Similarly, Ben Gascoigne has always looked solid in defence but he has developed his attacking game to include some big shots when required.
The Benwell Hill fielding was extremely good during the opening overs, but as Morpeth batsmen started to play their shots the pressure was starting to show.
The Morpeth score had raced to 45 when Byatt was forced to retire on 33 after hitting an almighty six into the pavilion. It was important that they built on their fine start, so Gascoigne’s innings would prove vital to ensure the scoreboard kept ticking over.
Andrew Wilkinson chipped in with a quick seven runs until he was clean bowled and James Weatherburn was given out leg before wicket for four runs (78 for three).
Gascoigne reached his thoroughly deserved 30 not out as the away side appeared to be faltering and the big score was looking unlikely.
Ryan Hope and Matthew Dodds were asked to bat sensibly to ensure Morpeth posted a good score to defend. Both players looked for quick singles at all times, some risky but highly successful.
Hope moved onto 10 until he was caught out going for a big shot as he tried to increase the run-rate. James Blackett and Cameron Lamb chanced their luck to score quickly, but both were clean-bowled without bothering the score.
Matthew Dodds remained at the crease to ensure every single was taken against a fielding team now on top. Well supported by Ross Charlton, he managed to get Morpeth to 125 for six with a valuable 18 not out.
The visitors took to the field knowing that a good bowling performance would see them to victory. They started well and limited the hosts to 32 from the first eight overs and when Byatt clean bowled the opener, it seemed that the match was won.
But thanks to some exciting batting from Fletcher (retired on 33) and Archbold (22), Benwell Hill got themselves right back into the game.
Morpeth were finding it difficult to pitch the ball accurately and there was a spell where every poor delivery seemed to race to the boundary for four runs.
However, as the Benwell Hill batsmen were playing more aggressively, Morpeth’s fielding finally became inspired. Fielders were now restricting any quick singles and covering boundaries much better.
Just as Archbold was looking dangerous, he was clean bowled by Blackett with the home side now needing 36 runs from the last four overs.
Dodds returned to the attack to bowl his last two overs and he conceded only two runs. This left Blackett to seal the game with another wicket in his final over, leaving Benwell Hill on 106 for four.