By John Wainwright - 11th July 2018 6:08am
Audlem Sunday X1.v. Betley Sunday X1 July 8 Hassell Trophy Rd 3 ( Quarter Finals )
On the same weekend as England's footballers reached the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time in many years Audlem's cricketers followed their example to gain a place in the last four of the Hassell Trophy with a victory over near neighbours Betley.
Another scorching hot day greeted the combatants as they arrived at The Gorse Croft in what promised to be a close encounter. The ground gave the appearance more of the Australian outback than England's green and pleasant land.
As in last Sunday's league game Audlem were lucky with winning the toss and had no hesitation in taking 'first knock' in ideal batting conditions in the 40 over competition.
Stylish opener A. Naveed (43)was in no mood to hang around and hit the very first ball of the game for 6 back over the bowler's head followed by two more fours. The game continued in this vein alongside prolific Andy Thorburn(35) batting at 3. With the platform set big hitting Atiq Hashmi(55)mwas in his element scoring his customary half century in rapid style. A huge total was looking likely with talk of breaking the 300 barrier for the first time this season but the introduction of some subtle bowling changes altered the dynamics of the game.
Staffordshire under 15 Captain, Rohan Heskerth was brought into the attack aided by Matthew Ball & Ryan Cheetham and worked their way through Audlem's middle order batting line-up and in the process slowing down the galloping scoring rate.
Instead of looking at a total in excess of 300 Audlem were now content at clawing their way to 200 which would be considered below par for the day but a fine last man stand between Usman Ghani(27 not out) and Simon Swift(26) raised the finished total to 233 all out.
Betley's batsmen strode to the crease full of determination to get their team off to a good start but could find no answer to Audlem's fine opening bowling attack. The combination of A.Naveed's brisk pace and prodigious swing and Ewan Farnell bowling at the Field End, comfortably the fastest bowler on display during the game gaining good pace and bounce on a hard track.
The reply soon faltered and it was left to young Ryan Hesketh (37) this time with the bat to try and restore some resistance. The middle order batsmen performed admirably and kept the game alive with good contributions from D. Towers (37) and M. Ball (23) but on their demise the game was up. A brave rearguard action by visiting skipper Andy Mountfield (22) and Jake Vousden (24) brought the game to it's conclusion with the visitors 177 all out in the 38th over of the innings.
Audlem's semi-final opponents will be old adversaries Moddershall at the Gorse Croft on August 5 (2:30 pm start)
John Wainwright ( Audlem CC )
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