Morpeth II v Ashington II Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League, Division B1
MORPETH welcomed table-topping local rivals Ashington to Longhirst last Saturday still searching for their first league win of the season – a search that continues.
Captain Jonny Wailes won the toss and decided that his depleted side would be best batting first, despite the green tinge that was evident on the wicket.
He strode out with newly-signed Andy Laycock, a student at Northumbria, and the skipper soon despatched Richards to the boundary with a clean pull-shot and leg-glance.
But on nine, he punched a low full-toss to Sample at extra-cover, who took a smart catch centimetres from the turf at the second time of asking.
Things got worse as James Craigs arrived at three, only for Storey to get a ball to lift off a length and cannon off Craigs’ elbow into the stumps, out for a solitary run.
Ex-Ashington batsmen Cal Urwin joined Laycock and the pair looked to see off an impressive opening pair of bowlers.
Laycock had just flicked a handsome four off his pads to the mid-wicket boundary when Richards bowled the lanky left-hander with an in-swinging yorker for 11.
Kurran Dhugga gave him a third wicket, chipping tamely to mid-on for two.
At 47-4, the hosts were deep in the brown stuff. But Paul Wonders started to show what Morpeth had been missing while he has been in Leeds with an extra-cover drive that was pleasing on the eye.
Urwin was now starting to find some form with a pair of crisp cover drives and clips through square-leg, each for four, although Wonders’ pleasant cameo was abruptly brought to an end when he was run out for 15 going for a quick single.
Ben Jones then came in and gave Urwin stubborn support. The pair mixed some powerful strokes with solid defence, capitalising on some loose spin bowling as Urwin passed 50 for the second game in succession.
He was going well until Etherington’s medium pace induced an inside edge, which lodged in wicketkeeper Ross’s pad, and he was out for 56.
Experienced off-spinner Steve Williams joined the attack and bowled Jones for 15, then trapped Nick Rose lbw for 0. At 125-8, Morpeth were back in trouble. Adam Lawn was joined by younger brother Callum Lawn, on second team debut. The lack of experience was not evident though, as Callum looked solid and Adam began finding his range, with classy straight drives down the ground and some lusty blows over Hetherington’s head.
The pair took the hosts to 153-8, with Adam Lawn 22 not out, and something to bowl at.
Morpeth took to the field knowing that they would get some help from the pitch. Ben Jones and Jimmy Craigs made good use of it, beating the outside edge regularly.
Ross Sample had just planted a Jones full-toss into the trees when he tamely drove to short extra-cover, but the catch was dropped and Jones did not get his wicket.
Dale Ross at the other end then edged Craig’s out-swinging ball to gully, but again the chance went begging.
The bowlers continued to rue their bad luck and, as the ball got older, the batsmen began to take the driving seat. Ross was beginning to drive and cut well, but when spinners Laycock and Dhugga entered the fray, they faced a new challenge.
Again Ross soon got to grips with the left and right-hand combination, using his feet to crunch drives straight and through the off-side.
Despite bowling good spells, the spinners were replaced without reward but the seam of Urwin and Rose did not fare any better and Ashington cruised to victory in 32 overs without losing any wickets – Sample 52 not out from 97 balls and Ross 88 not out from just 83 balls.
Morpeth man-of-the-match: Cal Urwin
On Saturday, Morpeth seconds welcome Newcastle City to Longhirst. The match starts at 1.30pm.