After a series of drawn encounters and a solitary league defeat in recent weeks, the 2nd XI all but ensured their survival in Division 4 of the Cheshire Cricket Alliance with Saturday's comprehensive 8-wicket victory at Wilmslow Wayfarers.
With the season now entering a crucial stage, Audlem set off to Wayfarers targeting a much-needed win to ease any relegation fears with only four games remaining of a depressing rain-affected campaign. Skipper John Wainwright walked out to toss the coin to the now-familiar sight of covers on the wicket and circling storm clouds overhead prior to commencement of hostilities. The call was correct and he had no hesitation in inserting the hosts on a green damp track. However, the main consideration was the rain that was forecast for the afternoon and any consequent reduction in overs during the match. This was likely to be a great advantage for the team batting second, which in the event proved to be the case
Wayfarers soon found themselves in trouble against Audlem's attack with their top three batsmen back in the pavilion with only 21 runs on the board. With the promised showers now arriving at regular intervals, and every break in play reducing the allotted overs, the batsmen were unsure what approach to take and what might constitute a defendable total.
Eventually the skies cleared and Wayfarers found themselves behind the required rate with a maximum of 34 overs to constitute their innings. They eventually closed on 131 for 8 aided by a late flourish in the final five overs to leave Audlem a tricky run chase. Rob Morrison (3 for 44), Dave Parry (2 for 28) and Lyndon Woodcock (2 for 17) were the pick of the bowlers on the day keeping the score down to manageable proportions.
Set a run-rate of just over 4.5 per over, Audlem's run chase didn't get off to the best of starts as opener Zar Ahmed was back in the pavilion with only 19 on the board. However, any fears of a collapse were soon alleviated with a fine partnership between Steve Broomfield and Rob Morrison to take the score to 108 in quick time before Broomfield was dismissed for a fine 30. Morrison carried his bat for 74 not out and see the team home with eight wickets and more than four overs to spare.
Credit must be given to the host club for making every effort to continue with the game in very difficult conditions, especially after losing the crucial toss and seeing their hopes of victory evaporate with every interruption in play. If all clubs conducted themselves the way of Richard Branagan and his Wayfarers the game of cricket would be all the richer for it.
Audlem gained 20 points and Wayfarers 7. As a result the 2nd XI leap-frogged Wayfarers to move into seventh place.
On Saturday the 2nd XI play hosts to Mossley (Congleton) who are struggling for their lives one place off the foot of the table and a defeat for them will mean almost certain relegation. The match is scheduled for a 1.00pm start.
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