Blagdon back on top

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Monkseaton II (207-8) v Blagdon Park II (223-7) Northumberland Cricket League, Division B1

IN a game originally scheduled to be played at Monkseaton, but which had to be switched to the ‘Bull Arena’ due to a football tournament, Blagdon had the chance to regain top-spot in the seconds league.

Captain Andrew Bain elected to bat on very favourable wicket for batsmen on an overcast day.

Bain and Matthew Senior opened the batting for the home side, looking to score over 200.

John Scott opened the bowling from the Lake End and bowled a tidy maiden over, at the other end John Hewitt looked for a quick breakthrough but was dispatched by Senior for four with an exquisite cover-drive.

Senior’s innings did not last long however as in the fourth over he was bowled by Hewitt for four after misjudging a delivery on middle stump.

His opening partner didn’t fare much better as he edged Hewitt to slip for a duck. That left Blagdon Park on nine for two after seven overs.

Chris Bain and Paul Johnson were now at the wicket and had the task of rebuilding the Blagdon innings.

Bain played a typically aggressive innings, while at the other end Johnson mixed some elegant stroke play with some massive sixes.

Bowlers Hewitt and Scott had no answer as runs seemed to flow after the difficult start. This brought a bowling change as John Bishop got a chance at the Lake End, however he got dispatched repeatedly by Bain.

After the drinks break Bishop switched to the Airport End and struck almost immediately as he caught the edge of Chris Bain’s bat for 41. There was some debate as to whether Bain did in fact edge the ball but it brought to end a great partnership of 93 between Bain and Johnson.

David Simpson came in next, but the spotlight was now on Johnson who had now passed 50 and was still going strong. Johnson and Simpson began to accelerate the run rate, Simpson looking in great form as he repeatedly cut the newly-introduced Murphy for boundaries towards the pavilion.

It took a superb sprawling catch from Bishop off his own bowling to remove Simpson for 21.

Johnson continued on his merry way, continuing to hit boundaries on his way to a magnificent century, the first by a Blagdon Park 2nd XI player this season.

His knock came to an end as he was run out for 106, which included 12 fours and three sixes.

Runs from David Abercrombie, Stuart Dick and Henry Blake helped to get the total up to 217 before Steve Oxley smashed the last ball of the innings for six into the Cow field. Blagdon Park had to be happy with 223-7 after such a difficult start.

Matthew Senior and Steve Oxley (0-23 off five overs) opened the bowling for the ‘home’ side as the Monkseaton innings got underway.

Opening pair Baister and Benns began quickly, scoring at five an over for the first few overs, and looked to put pressure on the fielding side.

But Senior had other ideas in the fifth over – after repeatedly beating Benns’ bat he managed to find the outside edge and wicketkeeper Stuart Dick took a regulation catch.

The very next ball Senior bowled a leg stump yorker which was too much for the new man Thompson and Monkseaton were 30 for two. In his next over Senior struck once again, finding the outside edge to give Dick another catch and leaving the away side in trouble on 36-3.

John Bishop now joined Baister at the crease and the pair continued the scoring rate, racing to a score of 60-3 after 10 overs.

Captain Bain needed to slow the scoring rate so brought on seasoned veteran Andy Pryor from the Lake End and league leading wicket taker David Simpson from the Airport End.

Pryor was his usual economic self going at less than two an over, whilst Simpson struggled to get anything out of the pitch.

Baister had now reached his half century after 15 overs and looked to be settling in for the innings. He reached 67 when Andy Pryor narrowly missed his leg stump with a brilliant off cutter.

Next ball Baister was not so lucky, as Pryor hit the top of his middle stump with another off cutter. Baister’s fine innings had put Monkseaton well in the game at 124 for four.

Simpson (0-39 off seven overs) was then replaced by young Henry Blake who struck almost immediately by removing the off stump of Anderson with a wicket swinging delivery.

Now 132-5, Monkseaton still needed 102 runs off 15 overs – the run rate had slowed thanks to the steady bowling of Andy Pryor (1-25 off 10 overs).

Bishop was now joined by John Scott and Scott showed his intent by hitting Blake for a straight six. David Abercrombie began with a solid first two overs before Scott also dispatched him into the trees for six.

Blagdon now needed wickets and fast as the pair looked to turn ones into twos. They tried this one time too many, however, as Simpson made a bullet throw to Blake to get the powerful Scott out for 34.

With five overs left Monkseaton still needed 47 runs, but with Bishop still there, now having passed 50, they still had a chance of victory.

Abercrombie had other ideas as Bishop advanced down the wicket and missed the ball, leaving Dick to smartly whip the bails off and Bishop’s innings came to an end for 56.

Monkseaton, now 184-7, still needed 40 off four overs, although they had an excellent next over, scoring 11 off Blake.

But their hopes once again disappeared as the combination of Abercrombie and Dick had Errington stumped for a duck. The remaining overs were somewhat of an anticlimax as Bain had everyone on the boundary to stop the big hits.

Monkseaton ended their innings on 207-8, 17 runs short of victory as Blagdon moved back to the top of Division B1.

Senior finished with figures of 3-43 and David Abercrombie took two wickets for 29 runs.