Morpeth I (221-8) v Swalwell I (222-6) Wellstream Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League, Division A1
MORPETH hosted Swalwell on Saturday, looking for a win similar to that of last season. On a picturesque and serene day, Morpeth won the toss and chose to bat.
Wailes and Foster strode out, hoping to see off the new-ball attack with a little bit of life in the pitch. Pattison and Johnson were finding some early movement away from the bat, but the openers saw off the first few overs with Foster crunching a pair of authoritative straight drives down the ground.
Wailes had just cover-driven Pattison to the boundary when he slapped a square-cut firmly to backward-point, where Gray completed the catch, to send the opener on his way for 14.
Skipper Craigs came in at three and found it hard going, but seemed intransient in defence. Foster was looking as assured as ever, branching out with some flicks through the on-side as well as a huge six back over the Pattison’s head.
Craigs was starting to look like he was about to get going, when he misjudged a shortish Pattison delivery, top-edging, with keeper Anderson completing the work.
Maxted entered the fray, and the change of batsmen saw a change of bowlers with Durham and Scotland batter Coetzer and the experienced off-spin of Nicky Phillips brought into the attack.
Maxted was not to be put off his usual game, looking to attack from the off as Foster continued to look in total comfort as he milked Phillips with the sweep and looked to play Coetzer down the ground as much as possible.
Maxted was chancing his arm to push the rate along, blasting Phillips for a one-bounce four over wide long-on. Johnson was brought back in but Maxted showed him no mercy. The slightly shorter legside boundary received a peppering.
Phillips managed to deceive the Morpeth keeper, who advanced but missed with an attempted belt over the legside, to be stumped for 44 from 32 balls.
Foster continued to look a class apart at the other end, cantering past 50 without any fuss. However, when sweeping Phillips on 65, the ball ricocheted off forearm, then helmet, looping into Anderson’s gloves, only for the umpire to send the frustrated former Gateshead Fell skipper on his way.
Sander and Anderson looked to rebuild after two crucial dismissals and began to rotate the strike nicely.
Anderson was trapped by the returning Coetzer, lbw for eight, and Sander was starting to find real rhythm before being smartly caught by Dumighan at mid-wicket for 23, off the same bowler.
When big-hitting Praxton was bowled, off his back, by Phillips for two, Morpeth were 176-7 and looking like scoring less than 200 with few over left. However, all-rounders Palmer and Horner, soon turned the situation on its head, with an action-packed last few overs.
Horner was run out for an entertaining 25, which included the highest six hit in Longhirst history, and Palmer was 18 not out, off just 10 balls, as Morpeth closed on a respectable 221-8.
Morpeth set about defending their score against established opener Anderson and professional Coetzer. Palmer and Christie started well, with Coetzer the first to go for just one, edging Palmer down the leg-side with Maxted completing the work behind the stumps.
This brought Pattison to the wicket, and Morpeth soon realised that this was the wicket to break. The pair began laying the foundations for a long partnership.
Palmer returned to the attack and bounced Anderson who fended to mid-wicket where Foster made excellent ground and swooped to catch at full stretch just above the turf. 128-2 and Morpeth appeared to be back in the game.
However, Clark was in next and showed stubborn resistance as Pattison continued on his merry way.
As they passed 200, Elliott out-foxed Pattison to bowl him for 99. In the next over, Elliott bowled Clark for 25 and next ball, Dumighan punched a catch to Craigs at mid-wicket.
Two balls later and Hughes’ leading edge gave Elliott a return catch. The four-stone spinner had taken four wickets in seven balls and 205-2 had become 211-6.
But Phillips and Welsh saw Swalwell past the target, despite the late wobble.