NOTE – this is a joint report of Oakamoor AWAY on the 14th July, Brailsford HOME on the 21st July and Ashbourne AWAY on the 28th July.
GARGOYLES CATCHING UP
It’s been a busy two weeks for Alstonefield Cricket Club, with fixtures against three of the big name clubs in the area. It’s also been a powerful reminder of the highs and lows inherent in the wonderful game. From a sound thrashing at Oakamoor, the Gargoyles picked themselves up with a creditable, much narrower defeat against a strong Brailsford XI and then turned in the best cricketing performance in the club’s history in defeating Ashbourne by a colossal 129 runs.
At Oakamoor the batting simply collapsed after a good start from openers Harry Jones and the revitalised Neil Shotton. New boy Ben King showed he can bat, but ran out of partners. 86 all out after being 34 without loss was an epic achievement. And then a straightforward catch is dropped off King from the very first ball of the Oakamoor reply. That particular batsman goes on to make a rapid and elegant, 51 not out and it is time for a pint after only 16 overs. Lost by 7 wickets.
And so to Brailsford, against whom the Gargoyles have never tasted victory. It looked ominous from the start as the experienced top order took a liking to the Gargoyles opening attack. Then, unlike at Oakamoor, an opener with his sights on an early finish, was unbelievably caught by Ian McKay in the gully off the full meat of the bat, giving the judges a benchmark for this season’s methode champenoise moment. This proved to be the inspiration for bowlers and fielders to raise their game. Ben King took 3 wickets for 21 and this stemmed the runs. Harry Jones then came on and wrapped up with 3 for 39. Amazingly, given recent history, there were superb catches from
Harry Jones, with 33 and Rob Handscombe with 15, laid a solid foundation putting on 35 for the first wicket. The middle order struggled to keep up with the run rate against a tight Brailsford attack, until Will Siddons played himself into form with a measured batting display, making 34. The tail wagged a bit with everyone contributing and at the close, 145 for 9 wickets was a decent performance. Lost by 37 runs.
On Sunday the Gargoyles went to town against an Ashbourne side currently enjoying winning ways in the Derbyshire League.
Batting first on a damp, but bouncy pitch and with a sodden outfield, scoring was slow but steady as Lancashire tyros Harry Jones (23) and Dave Singleton (13) put on 32 for the first wicket, but at the half-way point the run rate was barely 2 per over. Enter Captain Simon Smith and the now technically correct Neil Shotton. These two produced an array of swashbuckling strokes
that belied the conditions and scattered the fielders. They put on over 60 runs in 8 overs. Were we heading towards a defendable total? In fact debut boy Chris Wilkins and the maturing by the game Will Siddons had other ideas and the not inconsiderable skill to achieve them. Quite simply these two blew the bowling apart and added 67 runs in 6 overs, including 3 sixes and 7 fours. A stunning turnaround. 131 runs in the last 15 overs. 176 for 5.
Was this a competitive total against some quality batsmen? The answer was a resounding yes. In fact, what followed was a remarkable demonstration of the destructive power of accurate bowling and the ability to hold catches. Only one Ashbourne batsman reached double figures. 7 were caught, brilliantly by Will Siddons, Rob Handscombe and Simon Smith. Chris Wilkins proved to be even more of a threat with the ball as with the bat, taking 3 for 5 and is an early contender for this season’s DAZ award as well as man of the match, while Ian McKay’s flight, guile and astute field placements, secured 4 wickets for 8 runs. Five chances and five catches taken. Ashbourne all out 47. Won by 129 runs. It doesn’t get any better than that. It’s a long time a fortnight.