The 1st XI was indebted to a superb Rich Wilson century on Saturday in a rain-affected draw with Knutsford at the Gorse Croft. Fourteen overs were lost due to the weather and conditions were poor throughout.
Wilson, captaining Audlem for the day, won the toss and elected to bat on a hard but green surface. Opener Andy Rothwell started in explosive fashion, plundering two fours from the first over. However, partner Qhama Matthews fell second ball and Kemal Toraman soon joined him back in the pavilion after scoring 4. Skipper Wilson joined Rothwell at the crease, but the stand didn’t last long when Rothwell was out for 11, leaving Audlem in trouble on 23 for 3.
Tom Kural and Wilson batted out 20 overs and began to move the home side into a position from which a challenging total was possible. However, Kural never looked comfortable and was bowled for 19. None of this seemed to faze left-hander Wilson though, as he accelerated past 50 with the able support of Tahir Hussein, who played well for his 27 before he too was bowled. As Audlem looked to reach 200, Toby Banfield was out, also bowled, after contributing 9.
This brought Chris Shenton to the wicket. He quickly smashed two sixes and left Wilson looking as though he would be left stranded in the 90’s as the overs began to run out. However, Wilson managed to bring up a brilliant century with just four balls remaining. Audlem closed on 210 for 6 from their 38 overs, leaving Wilson (100) and Shenton (23) as the not-out batsmen.
The weather meant Knutsford had just 34 overs to chase their target at a required rate of just under a run a ball. They got off to a flier and raced to 75 for 0 before Neil Humphries snared Naveed Arshad who had compiled a dashing 50. Wickets tumbled thereafter with fellow opener John Sheridan lbw for 30 and it was clear that a draw was the visitors’ only hope of salvation as the run rate climbed. John Sheldon smashed five sixes in a superb 47 not out counter attack, to add to his two wickets earlier in the day, as Knutsford closed on 171 for 7. Humphries took 3 for 55, Hussein 2 for 18, and young Nathan Hall 2 for 38.
Audlem gained 14 points and Knutsford 7. As a result the teams stay in fifth and fourth place respectively in Division 2, with the gap now reduced to 10 points.
On Saturday the 1st XI face a difficult match as they travel to second-place Wilmslow Wayfarers.
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