As reported on Monday, Audlem 2nd XI maintained the 100% start to the season in Division 5 of the Cheshire Cricket Alliance with an emphatic victory against Frodsham 3rd XI.
The dull, threatening skies and an inclement weather forecast promised one of those frustrating, rain-interrupted days. However, Audlem's arrival saw the emergence of the sun which maintained a presence for the early part of the day. The wicket was green and uncut and suggested that the bowlers would get plenty of bounce – it did not bode well for the batsmen! For the second consecutive week, skipper John Wainwright lost the toss and the opposition elected to bat first.
Toby Banfield and Rob Johnson opened the bowling for Audlem and wrested control of the match right from the beginning. Both men produced good, long, testing spells during which they took a wicket each. Banfield took the first wicket when Dave Burgess left a delivery expecting it to miss the off-stump. The clatter of timber confirmed that it was a suicidal judgment and he was on his way back to the pavilion for 2. Johnson quickly sent the other opener back, inducing a snick to the keeper, leaving Frodsham in trouble with two wickets down before the score required the assistance of a second digit. There was plenty of bounce in the wicket and it was proving very hard work for the home batsmen.
Audlem continued their stranglehold on the match when Johnson took his second wicket as Paul Thorburn took a well-judged catch in the covers to dismiss the threatening Tim Ennis for 22.
Skipper Wainwright bought on veteran spinners, Roy Wild and John Chadwick. They were to provide no relief for Frodsham. Wild soon took the next wicket courtesy of an excellent catch from Johnson running in from the cover boundary. The onus was now on home team's last recognised batsman, Steve Johnson. As the pressure mounted on the batsmen, a key moment followed when batsman Johnson came out of his crease and attempted to launch Wild over the sightscreen. The ball went high in the sky over the bowler. The two Thorburns, Paul and Dan, were at mid-on and mid-off respectively and, for a moment, it looked like neither was going for the catch. Then Paul demonstrated the virtues of assertiveness and experience and bravely called for Dan to go for the catch! Dan snapped up the opportunity and the last hope of a decent total for Frodsham had gone.
It was then simply a matter of time. As the tension eased, wicketkeeper Leo North decided to pass on his wisdom and coaching skills to a young Frodsham tail-ender regarding how to play spin. The poor lad was bowled conclusively the very next delivery by Wild! Well done, Leo!
The wily duo of Wild and Chadwick soon wrapped up the tail to bowl Frodsham out for a lowly 71. Wild was close to his normal self taking 3 for 15 off 14 overs. Chadwick had the amazing figures of 4 for 3 off 6.3 overs, following on from his 2-2 the previous week. Johnson took 2 for 30 and Banfield 1 for 19.
In reply Audlem begin the chase with caution. Openers Banfield and Zar Ahmed took the score to 21 before Banfield holed out for 10 trying to up the tempo. Batting was still difficult and scoring was not easy on the wicket with the ball bouncing and swinging. However man-of-the-match Johnson had other ideas.
The Afghanistan-bound soldier proceeded to deliver the innings of the day as he decided to attack the bowling and the whole complexion of the innings changed. The ball started to disappear regularly to the boundary from Johnson's bat and instead of a slow, awkward run chase, it became a cake-walk. The 50 partnership came up between Zar and Johnson – Zar's contribution to the stand being a magnificent 7. Johnson duly hit the winning run and ended up 39 not out. Zar remained 10 not out in his anchor role.
This excellent, comprehensive, 9-wicket win for the 2nd XI stemmed from a good all round team performance. Audlem gained 25 points, and Frodsham just 1.
There is no game for the 2nd XI next Saturday as there is an odd number of teams in the Division.
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