FITTING FINALE FOR FINE SEASON
This match perfectly summed up the Gargoyles’ 2014 season. A beautiful summer’s day, a fast and true wicket and two very good evenly matched teams, both full of wily experience and the exuberance of youth. The result too was a fair reflection of so many matches in this campaign, with Ian McKay’s Chairman’s Invitation XI narrowly edging past captain Simon Smith’s Alstonefield Club XI by 3 wickets, with less than two overs to spare.
The Club fielded one of their strongest teams of the year, while the Invitation XI was packed with talent from Wirksworth and Brailsford Cricket Clubs. Opting to bat first, captain Simon Smith obviously felt his batting line up would take the game away. At 46 for 4 after 12 overs, with the prolific Andy Bray and Chris Wilkins both back in the marquee, there had to be a Plan B. Against a spicy variety of bowling, from the raw pace and relentless accuracy of young Harry Wanford to the bamboozling leg spin of the even younger Harvey Clarke, the Gargoyles’ batsmen were never in control. The Reverend Arthur Hack showed what the club misses on Sundays with a boundary laden 22 and Ben King continued his rich vein of form with an unbeaten 32. He and Shahid Ali, who bludgeoned 20 in the final two overs, gave the Club XI a defendable total of 148.
Ben King and Chris Wilkins opened the Club XI’s attack with immediate results, removing the experienced Ashurst and France in the first 3 overs. Veteran Ian Clarke steadied the ship and would have been proud of his son Harvey’s composure under pressure, as they rebuilt and put on 37 runs to place the Invitation XI at 73 for 5 at the halfway mark. The match then swung in favour of the guests, when the old and the new from Wirksworth in the form of Liam Duffy and John McCabe, played the two best innings of the day, with shots all around and along the ground. These two added 61 unbeaten runs and although there were the usual jitters towards the end as captain Smith threw his opening attack back into the fray in search of glory, it was left to the Chairman’s square cut to secure victory for his Invitation XI.
Fitting finale indeed. The winner was Alstonefield Cricket Club. This match demonstrated the club’s progress in the past two seasons under captain Simon Smith. Attracting a strong Invitation XI, hosting a proper, competitive cricket match on a beautifully prepared ground and played in the true spirit of cricket, where everyone has the chance to contribute to the team’s performance. The what-ifs, did-you-sees and do-you-remembers at The George afterwards were of the same high quality. Such a shame it had to end.
Until next season…