Rain dashes Audlem's hopes

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Audlem 1st XI played out a rain affected draw on Saturday at home to Maritime after losing 34 overs to the elements on a frustrating afternoon at Bunsley Bank.

Matthews replaced Banfield in the only change for the hosts in a fixture which was a clash between last season's 3rd and 4th placed sides. This week's match sponsor was Anne Shepherd, who is a specialist in resuscitation training, and her full profile can be viewed on Audlem CC's website.

After a Manor breakfast and several hours of hard graft at the ground, Wilson and Kural were dismayed to see the heavens open just 10 minutes before the scheduled start with the players ready to take the field.

Tea was taken early as the clouds engulfing the ground continued to dump their load on the hastily assembled covers with the 4.15pm cut off for a contest rapidly approaching. Fortunately the rain eased enough for a 3.30pm start meaning a 28 over a side dash was possible.

The outfield showed no signs of a two hour downpour and the wicket had been covered, which meant batting was not as difficult as it could have been given the conditions. This enabled both the Maritime openers to get off to a flyer and they recorded several early boundaries.

Humphries, who opened the bowling from the Hedge End, was hauled off after 4 overs as captain Stanway looked to stem the flow of runs. At the other end McIlveen was having mixed success — he picked up 3 wickets in his opening spell but these blows were punctuated by some excellent clean hitting from the visitors as they moved along at quicker than a run a ball.

Gayan made 39, and Nazeem 42, as their side moved towards to the magic 175 and maximum batting points.

Swift's introduction built some pressure but Maritime were finding the boundary regularly with ease and they breezed past 3 figures inside 13 overs. The real acceleration came from Haron as he smashed his way to 70* with support from Thisal 22* as 5 overs from Farnell and Kural leaked 60 runs. With the score at 188 Maritime declared leaving Audlem 30 overs to chase.

Stanway dropped himself down to 3 and allowed to Wilson to open with Rothwell after the left hander recorded an unbeaten 108 vs Haughton Cavaliers last Sunday and it was a decision which was vindicated as the hosts eased to 46 — 0 from the first 9 overs of their chase.

Rothwell, still nursing a side strain, looked in excellent touch for his 34 and following the departure of Wilson (14) he continued the lead the charge with Audlem's captain. But when Kural was strangled down the legside for 5 and Farnell (2) was dismissed soon after, the rate began to climb at 110-4 with the overs running out.

This was the cue for Stanway to launch his assault and he plundered 16 from one over as he raced past his first half century of the season. Maritime, for the first time, started to look ragged in the field and with Audlem needing 50 from the final 6 overs panic was beginning to set in.

The tables were turned again though when Stanway was eventually out for 68, which left Matthews and Toraman at the crease with a clear directive to go for the win with 5 wickets still in the hutch. Yet they were unable to find the required acceleration and ultimately settled for a share of the spoils at 160-6 with Toraman 22*.

Audlem took 10 points and Maritime 13.

Afterwards, Stuart Stanway told us he thought "it was an exciting game of cricket" and credited the umpires "or doing everything they could to get the game on."

He added: "We know Maritime will be there or thereabouts and maybe they thought they could run through us after declaring but I was pleased with the spirit we showed and with a bit more luck could easily have nicked it in the end".

Next week, Audlem travel to Bowden Vale and Simon Swift has already ruled himself out of any car share schemes for the trip after an unsavoury incident last year. Tom Kural is a doubt after he was seen booking out a Hungry Horse chain in Crewe for the day and Stuart Elkes is rumoured to be visiting a wedding cake decorator.

See you all next week.