Impressive first victory of season

Morpeth opener Jonny Craigs plays a defensive shot. Photo by Keith Robertson.
Morpeth opener Jonny Craigs plays a defensive shot. Photo by Keith Robertson.
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Morpeth I (205-7) v Sacriston (147 all out) Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League, Division A1

THANKS to the inclement weather, Morpeth managed only their second league outing of the season at home to Sacriston on Saturday and they made it count as they claimed an impressive first victory.

Following some solid performances in the cup, home skipper Ben Maxted won the toss and backed his batsmen to make the best of slightly green early season conditions.

Jonny Craigs opened the batting with new boy Jay Webster. The pair battled manfully against the skilful bowling of Hunter and Hubber, who were extracting regular movement.

Craigs (12) had just punched a crisp drive through the covers when Hunter induced an outside edge and Mo Ali grabbed an opportunist catch low to his left. Hunter then nipped one back to remove David Rutherford’s leg stump for just three.

Maxted was in at four and matched a couple of dreamy drives with a couple of streaky snicks through the slips as he looked to launch a counter attack.

However, promising all-rounder Carr was introduced and his skiddy medium pace forced a false shot and Maxted’s swish to leg resulted in a leading edge being caught by Jones in the covers for 16, with Morpeth 58-3.

Webster was looking assured throughout and the solid opener was starting to bat with more freedom, having grafted hard early on.

Wailes joined him and when Potts’ off-spin was introduced, he showed growing confidence with a slow sweep to the boundary. Wailes backed this up with an off-drive stroked for four. The pair where rotating the strike nicely when Carr jagged a length ball back to rap Webster on the pads and dismissed him for 40.

Australian Ray Cooper marched to the wicket full of purpose. The bold 21-year-old from Newcastle (near Sydney) showed his intentions with an authoritative flick to the square leg boundary. Then a full toss from Carr was powerfully driven shot through extra cover. Wailes looked to rotate the strike, as Cooper began finding his flow.

The pair raced past their 50 partnership, flicking singles and twos to go with a number of boundaries. Cooper reached an explosive half century with an uncharacteristically scruffy inside edge to square leg, but soon he had walloped a pair of sixes from Ali again, to wide mid-wicket off both front and back foot.

Hubber was reintroduced but Cooper took a ball from off-stump to the mid-wicket boundary with a flourish and Wailes joined in by latching on a Hubber short ball to pull it for six over square leg. As Morpeth steamed towards a one-time improbable 200, Cooper was caught by Ali for 71, from just 51 balls, from Hubber’s bowling.

Wailes did manage another six from Hubber, this time a less than elegant thump to cow corner.

Hunter came back and proved difficult to get away. He yorked Palmer second ball and had Wailes caught on the long off boundary for 41 to end with figures of 4-40.

With Roxman finishing unbeaten on six, Morpeth were very happy to end on 205-7 from 50 overs.

The home side took the field knowing that the prolific Mo Ali was the prize wicket. Leggy medium pacer Palmer and express fast bowler Cooper shared the new ball, bowling well without immediate reward.

But Palmer had been accurate and he forced a mistake from Ali – who spooned a pull shot to Roxman who comfortably pouched at mid-on. Cooper displaced the other opener, with another pull shot proving the downfall. This time Wonders caught at mid-wicket, with the aid of his chest and a fumble.

Experienced seamer Rutherford and off-spinner Elliott took the ball and kept the pressure on, with Rutherford nibbling the ball each way from an impeccable length.

Elliott then ragged a ball from wide of off-stump to clip the top of Potts’ stump. To make things worse for the visitors, Rutherford got the wicket he deserved when the watchful and well-organised Carr was beaten, trying to turn a ball that seamed away to off on to the leg side, trapped LBW for 21.

Elliott turned another through the gate of the number six and there was then a run out after sharp work from Webster to leave the visitors teetering on the edge at 60-6.

Hunter had come in at five and was Sacriston’s final hope. He got on one knee and cleanly swept Elliott for six, but the spinner came out on top when Hunter tried to repeat the shot only to sky a top edge straight upwards, with ‘keeper Maxted holding on comfortably.

Rutherford finished his 15 overs with figures of 1-32 and Elliott’s 12 overs produced 3-31. Openers Palmer and Cooper came back to look to finish the job, but found Ian Jones in good form.

However, The big right-hander was run out for 33 after a huge mix up and each paceman yorked a tail-ender each to finish with 2-37 and 2-31 respectively to end the innings 147 all out and collect a maximum 20 points for Morpeth against a team that almost won the league last year.