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Audlem Cricket Club Report

27th April 2017 @ 6:06am – by Leo North
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Audlem CC 2nd XI successfully chart new waters

On Sunday Audlem 2nd XI made their debut in the Stone and District Cricket League Sunday Section B (South) and remarkably came away from the match with the full 25 points, despite having to defend their total of only 124 all out.
Situated in an unexpectedly pleasant and leafy suburb of Stoke-on-Trent, Caverswall CC provided their visitors with an immaculate batting surface, a beautiful outfield, roomy changing rooms and a well-appointed pavilion, in fact much that was often missing in previous years as the seconds made their weary way to the cricketing outposts of the Wirral, Tameside and Greater Manchester.

2017 captain John Wainwright had no hesitation in batting on a stunning surface but four balls into the innings Ronnie Farnell perfectly picked out the square leg fielder who made a hard catch look easy and set the standard for fielding that was way above what the seconds normally encounter. In fact generally the cricket is much tighter, gone are the days when extras could be top scorer. Audlem were 0-1 but Dion Bengry, a new recruit from John Wainwright's bottomless Cricketing Talent Pool, took the initiative to move the score on to 53 before departing for an excellent 37.

As ever, at the other end, Zar Ahmed was impressing with his handbrake cricket. The lively Caverswall bowlers were left scratching their heads as Zar often wafted aimlessly outside the off stump before playing some beautiful offside shots through cover and gulley. Charlie Hine smote several superb boundaries, including a six into a neighbouring garden, and, as partners came and went, Zar remained imperturbable and finally fell after 90 minutes of typical defiance.

The novelty of an electronic scoreboard enabled everyone present, many more spectators than the usual one or two who have lost their way, to marvel at the pace and patience of the man who reached 22 runs personally, but ensured that the team score was able to reach three figures when he departed, caught behind, with the score at 103-6. The innings closed at 124 all out in 36 overs and at tea a resounding home victory looked there for the taking.

Caverswall started confidently but the pace and accuracy of Ronnie Farnell allied to the aggression and hostility of Bengry kept the openers in check. Ronnie then tied up the catch of the season award with two catches that belong in a far higher standard of cricket. Firstly a stunning caught and bowled removed Preece before, minutes later, he acrobatically held on one-handed above his head at gulley to a ferocious shot that was destined for the boundary. As the batsman left the field, shaking his head in disbelief, both camps were starting to realise that they might have over/underestimated the opposition.

Farnell and Bengry took two wickets each and at 42-4 it was crucial that the pressure was kept on a now less confident home team. To their credit Charlie Hine (1-14) and "Lofty" Atiq both rose to the occasion. They tied down the batsmen with superb accuracy and skipper Wainwright's latest acquisition with 2-28 from 9 overs looks a real find for the team.

With the score at 44-6 Cookson and Bown realised the danger their team was in and competently pushed their team onwards and upwards. The turning point came when youngsters Farnell and Hine had completed their allocation of overs and a fifth bowler was required. The skipper turned to ex-youngster Danny Thorburn who conceded six runs with his first two deliveries and persuaded Cookson that this is where he could cash in on his previous patience. His attempted cover drive to the fourth ball gave a diving catch to keeper Leo North and when Atiq trapped Bown LBW at 79-8 the game was running away from the increasingly nervous hosts. Skipper Champ hit two lusty fours before dragging on to Thorburn (2-14) and the last pair were at the crease, with Bilal Ahmed, unlike his namesake, having 10 runs from 5 balls to his name but 24 runs still needed. The intimidatory pace of the recalled Farnell caused a panicky single to be attempted. The ball passed through several pairs of fielders' hands before North calmly removed the bails with Ahmed a couple of feet short of the crease and the Audlem players cavorted jubilantly around the pitch in a way not seen for several seasons.

A very good standard game of cricket in a beautiful setting against an excellent side bodes well for the coming season and gives a great boost to the confidence and enthusiasm of the seconds. Sunday matches allow less time to ease aches and pains before the working week begins but these are soon forgotten after contests like these.

Two impartial umpires are also a novelty for the seconds as is the League requirement for each team to provide a scorer. Any reader in the Audlem area who be interested in this important post should please contact John Wainwright at 07809202805.
The seconds welcome Eccleshall to the Gorse Croft on the coming Sunday with a 2.30 start.


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