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Woodcock and Wild thwart Wilmslow

1st August 2014 @ 11:11am – by Leo North
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Last Saturday the Rectory Field in Wilmslow saw the meeting of the two teams who have led Division 4 of the Cheshire Cricket Alliance since the beginning of the season. In a hard-fought, at times feisty and always committed battle, the resultant draw after a see-saw contest was probably a result that both teams were grateful to achieve.

In the absence of Dave Parry and initially the sat-nav challenged Roy Wild, the 2nd XI were forced to adopt a new bowling strategy. Simon Swift and Maj Ullah bowled with hostility and skill but the hard pitch and lightning outfield allowed the batsmen to score quickly with deflections, nudges and several aggressive shots so that the 50 came up in few overs with only one wicket lost.

The introduction of spinner Lyndon Woodcock saw a slowing of the rate, but the home team were sitting pretty at one point on 150 for 4 and probably eying a total of 260. Woodcock did however produce 15 overs that swung the game back towards Audlem before picking up a seemingly innocuous muscle strain in his final over. Excellent boundary catches from Danny Thorburn and James Hindle and two taken at cover by Rich Wilson contributed to an exceptional 7 for 66 for Woodcock.

North caught the home skipper Tim Conniff low down from the bowling of Swift, who then bowled Oli Pickup to finish with 3 for 43 and for the home side to finish at 199 all out.

Audlem had 46 overs to win the game or hold out, depending how the innings unfolded. Again fortunes fluctuated and climaxed in a final four overs of drama and tension that only cricket can produce.

Andy Capper and Maj Ullah started brightly but both departed for 9 to excellent catches in front of the sight-screen and at slip respectively and it was the dependable Zar Ahmed who showed the way, stroking the ball beautifully to all areas of the ground.

The introduction of leg-spinner Pradesh Gajjar saw another twist as he had Wilson caught behind for 13 with his first ball. When Ahmed was sharply taken at slip for an attractive 25, the score was 80 for 4 off 20 overs. Father and son Thorburn put on a further 27 before Danny (12) played on to Pradesh. Father Paul was then caught brilliantly by Pickup off a full-blooded hook for a valuable 25 and the game was again in the balance at137 for 6. James Hindle shouldered arms to his first ball and was bowled by Pradesh and next batsman in was Leo North, who contrived to prod a catch to silly mid-on and when Swift, who had made a sensible 14, was bowled by Pradesh the last pair were at the wicket with 50 needed from just 7 overs.

Aware that Roy Wild had contributed to the last wicket stand leading to Abbie Adams hitting the winning runs to complete a stunning one-wicket victory last year, Wilmslow knew that the game was far from over. They were however blissfully unaware of the batting talents of Woodcock who proceeded to whack five fours so that suddenly the equation was only 28 from 24 balls. However, the aforementioned injury dramatically took its toll and his final four had seen him collapse in agony as his hamstring gave way.

After extensive treatment to Woodcock, victory was now out of the question. In fact even the final batting point appeared unobtainable as surviving for the draw became the only option. Suspecting that these two batsmen probably know more than the average cricketer about spin-bowling, the home skipper turned to pace. The sight of the blond, six-foot-fourish, athletic Toby Ward bearing down from close to the sightscreen towards the 66-year-old, green-helmeted, buckle-padded, self-confessed non-batsman Wild was one of the sights of the summer. Surrounded by close fielders he even guided the ball towards the third man boundary, but the three runs required for the last batting point were out of the question with Woodcock struggling to stand, let alone run twenty-two yards. The final batting point could only come from extras, which by now had reached the astonishing total of 43, joint top-score on the day.

Hopping around like a wounded flamingo, Woodcock miraculously survived his last over and it was down to Wild to survive the final over of the match. Showing the wisdom of his years and to the cheers of the tense onlookers, he blocked the straight balls and left the others, to thwart Wilmslow and secure the draw. Woodcock finished on 23 not out and the value of Wild's 0 not out will never be shown in the scorebook. Audlem finished on 172 for 9, still three runs short of the extra bonus point.

Wilmslow gained 15 points and Audlem 9 to remain first and second respectively. Tomorrow the 2nd XI go on their travels again, this time to mid-table Stretton.


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