Stanway and Humphries Lead Audlem Charge

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Stanway and Humphries Lead Audlem's Charge

This weekend's Match Ball and Team Sheet was sponsored by Thorburn Property Consultants. Audlem CC would like to thank Thorburn Property Consultants for their support.

Audlem 1st XI completed a dominant 8 wicket victory at Norbury on Saturday, as their promotion charge hit Mercedes-like pace, achieving their fifth consecutive victory in the Cheshire Alliance Division 2. Humphries and Stanway were the architects of last weekend's success, as the elder statesman routinely chipped in with 4 wickets for 32 runs, before a blistering 52* off 31 balls from his younger partner in crime, saw the Bunsley Bank side home in an unfamiliarly comfortable fashion.

Second team stalwarts Zar Ahmed and John Wainwright were the late call-ups to the side in the absence of Patrick Madden and Ronnie Farnell from last week's victory away at Rylands.

With the Norbury ground bathing in sunshine and the smell of freshly cut grass in the air, some of Audlem's hay fever suffering batsmen, were hoping to be in the dressing room for most of the afternoon. Audlem though, were bowling first. Another lost toss. Another finable offence for the Skipper. It's just as well, he has lost a few league tosses in a row, as the form that the 2004 Netball Bronze Medallist from Athens has been in with the bat, has been almost enough to not warrant any fines from Callum McIlveen and his army of fines officers. Rumours that McIlveen and his trusty agents have been approached by the Greek Treasury to eliminate their catastrophic debts, following their rejection of EU's new austerity proposals are as of yet unfounded. This despite the leading seamer himself admitting to, "an increase in Mediterranean trips" in recent weeks.

10 overs down the line only 14 runs were on the board. Twibell and Holland started tentatively. Both teams were testing out each other's defences, sizing up their weapons, slipping in and out of range, as the other tried to launch the first attack. Although an early dropped slip catch from Andy Rothwell threatened to pierce the early pressure that Audlem had built over the early stages, like a balloon being let down, the pressure gradually wilted as Twibell hit McIlveen over extra cover for six, before the enforced bowling change for Qhama Matthews signalled further runs. As soon as the end of his first over, Norbury had moved to 43-0. Not an encouraging start.

Audlem's man for any occasion, Neil Humphries, was to have a say, though, removing Phil Holland LBW for 18. What's the old saying? "One Brings Two"? Well, that was the case here as, Qhama Matthews found his range and dismissed Holland's opening partner, Twibell for 20. Norbury were 43-2, with two new batsmen at the crease. Underbowled by his own admission, overbowled by his captain's admission, Qhama Matthews was to strike two more times in the day, going onto to finish with figures of 8 overs, 3 for 38. The first of those two, sent Irfan back for 8, as Simon Swift steadied himself well under a high catch. Humphries second followed shortly after, as a slow flighted turner drew Dyer forward and caught a leading edge as it looped into the offside to the waiting Callum McIlveen. It would be the first of three catches in the day for the vice-captain, who, like Lord Voldermort, "was evidently keen to atone for The Catch that must not be Named". 58-4 became 64-5, McIlveen taking another at short extra cover off Humphries. Wickets kept tumbling, Matthews removing Mike Barratt for 4, and then McIlveen scooping up another catch at short extra cover. Norbury had gone from 43-0 to 76-7.

However, the home side began to show some fight. Andrew Deplitch and Paul Selby started swinging from the ropes, clearly trying to put the pressure and doubt back into the minds of the bowlers. Both batsmen were hitting strong straight down the ground, picking the right moment to attack. A 36 run partnership was halted in its tracks, though, before it could hit fifth gear, Simon Swift dismissing them both with a clever slower ball revealed from the back of the hand and a full fast delivery. McIlveen would finish the innings off as he dismissed the young Max Billingham with a low full toss.

Audlem were chasing 114 to win, never a formality until its finality for the South Cheshire residents.

Zar Ahmed and Andy Rothwell took the total to task in the second innings. Some brutal straight drives from latter moved the away side quickly to 20 inside 5 overs. Dyer, though, showed Rothwell the way back. A full swinging delivery enticed a full bloodied drive, which the Bolton native missed, and sent the bails aerial.

This wouldn't stop them, though. Zar Ahmed continued in the same vein he has always batted, and blunted the Norbury attack, refusing to be drawn into anything too rash or too reckless, putting immense value on his wicket and playing the game his way, not anyone else's. It wouldn't really be fair to paint Wilson with the same brush, though. After a swift start and progress to 25, the prospect of finishing with at least a half century not out, was coming steadily into view on the horizon. However, a sloppy lofted drive down the ground sent that view back over the horizon, sending the left-hander stomping back to the sidelines.

At 51-2 there was the potential for a collapse, but a brutal 52* from Stu Stanway threw those worries out of the window, plundering seven boundaries and two sixes, as Audlem galloped home and past the winning post with Norbury still yet to hit the final straight. Stanway was quick on the cut and equally sharp on the sweep as he launched one over deep mid-wicket straight into the scoreboard, rapidly moving through to 295 runs for the league season at the half-way mark. His partner, Zar Ahmed, also known as "The Wall" finished 14*, a solid effort from the second Team regular, who performed adeptly at first team level, with his efforts being received gratefully by his teammates.

The victory moved Audlem up into second place, 35 points behind leaders Maritime and 6 points clear of Rylands in third. With plenty to play for, the second half of the 2015 season seems set to excite.