By John Wainwright - 30th May 2012 2:48pm
The 2nd XI travelled to Warrington to take on high flying Appleton 3rd XI on Saturday on a glorious summer's day. The sunshine certainly did the trick as they came home with maximum points after witnessing a magnificent innings from young Phil Backes, who blitzed the ball to all parts of the ground to guide his team home with five wickets in hand and three overs to spare.
The day started in routine fashion with skipper John Wainwright losing the toss yet again and having to announce to his now resigned team mates they would have to take to the field in the scorching early afternoon sunshine. Despite the oppressive conditions the Audlem bowlers and fielders stuck to their task of restricting their belligerent opponents on a wicket that was giving the bowlers little assistance and a bumpy outfield that made ground fielding difficult.
All four bowlers deserve a mention, but special praise must go to young Danny Thorburn who opened the attack and, although remaining wicketless, restricted the batsmen to very few scoring shots and only conceded 38 runs in his 10 excellent overs. Also the returning John Chadwick, who missed the whole of last season due to health problems, bowled with control and venom which halted the anticipated acceleration towards the climax of Appleton's innings and finished with commendable figures of 1 for 38. Roy Wild (1 for 35) and Lyndon Woodcock (2 for 55) made up the quartet and played their part in keeping the score to manageable proportions as Appleton closed on 174 for 4 off their allotted 48 overs.
The pick of the fielders was undoubtedly young debutant Ronnie Farnell who had a fine game and was responsible for saving at least 15 runs during the Appleton innings.
Given the task of overhauling their opponents total in the allotted 42 overs Audlem decided on a safety first policy, not wanting to lose early wickets against pacy Appleton opening bowler Amir Aslam. Prolific opening batsman Zar Ahmed played the perfect innings in keeping the score moving from the start and removing pressure on his batting partners. His fellow opener Ollie Banfield hit the most unusual 6 of the season with his second ball faced — an inside edge through his legs for a scrambled single then to turn and see the ball trickle on to the wicketkeeper's discarded helmet to earn another 5 penalty runs.
After 29 overs Audlem's task was looking monumental, with the score on 86 for 4 they required another 89 runs for victory with only 13 overs remaining. Enter Phil Backes, who strode to the crease full of purpose and started to hit shots across the boundary rope immediately. In one over off Martin Cooper he took 22 runs to swing the game dramatically in Audlem's favour. With six fielders positioned on the ropes Backes didn't take the easy option of exploiting the gaps left by the retreating Appleton fielders and taking the offered singles, he just continued to dissect the spread-out field to bring the game to an early conclusion. Fittingly, he finished the game with a delightful four. His innings of 66 not out contained 12 fours and one mighty six and he was at the crease for just ten overs. By general consensus it was the finest innings from an Audlem 2nd XI player for at least the last four seasons and a joy to witness by all who were there — Appleton lads excluded of course!
Ahmed played a huge part in the eventual victory with his 44 well-crafted runs, not being dismissed until the score was on 137. Danny Thorburn completed a fine day with 18 runs with father, Paul, on 11 not out.
This was undoubtedly the best performance of the season to date as Audlem gained 25 points and Appleton 11. As a result the 2nd XI move up to fifth place in Division 4.
On Saturday they travel to next-to-bottom Trinity (Bramhall) next week in good spirits looking to continue their rise up the league table.
Wednesday 22nd May
Scout and Guide Hall
Aston Methodist Hall