Morpeth II (154-1) v Benwell & Walbottle II (153 all out)
Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League, Division B1
HAVING had three frustrating weeks of watching the rain spoil Saturday cricket, Morpeth Seconds returned to action with a bang to pull into mid-table security.
Despite the consistent rain through the week, groundsman Ian Pledger had produced another cracking wicket which opposing skipper Singh chose to have first use of having won the toss.
The hosts took the field with several key players missing, handing debuts to four players. David Harbottle took the new ball alongside returning former skipper Chris Maxted and both were right on the money from the off.
The visitors opened with elder statesmen Green and Hall, who dug in and found it slow going. After 10 overs they were 15-0 and with both seamers deserving wickets.
Nick Rose and new boy Jack Elliott came on and proved to be just as miserly. As skipper Jonny Wailes looked for a breakthrough, he turned to Mike Elliott, in the side to provide experience.
Elliott’s floaty slow bowling was just the ticket, with the batsmen bamboozled by his variations and flight. Green was first to go for 32, beaten in the air to be clean bowled.
Matty Turner came on at the other end and number three Carter was bowled by the skiddy teenager, who performed beyond his years on his first outing.
Mike Elliott ended Hall’s vigil on 22, as he advanced only to be deceived by the delivery and wicketkeeper Jon Rose whipped the bails off – another debutant contributing well.
Denehy made a bright 14 but Elliott bowled him as the left-hander looked to make space to hit through the off side. The visitors were 105-4 and still in a reasonable position despite their mediocre run rate, which was just above three.
But Maxted returned to the attack and thrust the game into Morpeth’s hands. B Grice and Carr had started looking comfortable and were seen as Benwell’s most dangerous batsmen until Grice was clean bowled in Maxted’s returning over for 15 and in his next, Carr departed for 31 – caught at cover by Wailes from a skewed drive.
Singh came in but edged a swinging Maxted delivery and Rose snaffled an opportunist, low one handed catch to his left behind the stumps.
The collapse continued when Maxted clean bowled Lough. He finished with 4-12 from an impressive nine overs.
Jack Elliott returned at the other end and his accurate medium pace showed his pedigree, being the son of John Elliott who took many a wicket in his time. He ended an impressive first game by bowling Squires through the gate and ending the Benwell innings two balls before the end when P Grice punched him to extra cover, where Jimmy Ingram held a sharp chance springing to his left.
Jack ended with figures of 2-19 from his 8.4 overs, as Benwell were all out for 184.
Wailes and Stephen Cowell walked out feeling that the bowlers had done their bit, with a below par score to chase. B Grice and Hall provided accurate medium pace with the new ball, but the openers seemed fairly comfortable throughout. Cowell was his usual defiant self and Wailes looked to keep the scoreboard moving.
He cut and drove the bowlers powerfully, looking to attack any width. Green was introduced as an off-spinning option, but Cowell pulled him away for four, with Wailes repeating the dose. Wailes looked to use his feet and managed a lusty straight blow for six, then another but this time for four to reach a brisk half century.
Carr, Walker and Squires were all young seamers who looked to drag things back, but a wicket looked improbable. Wailes had thoughts of three figures when he picked out Hall on the deep mid-off boundary for 75, from Walker’s bowling.
With Morpeth only needing 48 more runs for victory, Harbottle joined the action and looked fluent and classy from the word go.
A range of pull shots and drives saw Harbottle finish the game unbeaten on 32, with Cowell 33 not out as Morpeth cruised to victory at 154-1 from 32.2 overs.
Man-of-the-match: Chris Maxted.