THEY say good things come to those who wait and Ashcombe Park certainly had some waiting to do before clinching a four-wicket win over Betley.
Chasing their visitors’ total of 91, Ashcombe were just 27 runs short of their target with seven wickets and a massive 49 overs in hand when rain drove the players off the field.
It looked like game over as almost two and a half hours went by with Ashcombe kicking their heels, faces as gloomy as the weather, before the rain miraculously ceased and play resumed with just 15 minutes remaining.
The towering Betley professional, Faisal Irfan Butt, then claimed a hat-trick as Ashcombe threw caution and wickets to the wind in a frantic finale.
Rizwan Haider, dropped before the rain break and again just after, struck 30 before holeing out to Adam Simcox at long-on.
Next ball, Ian Alcock – attempting to glance wide of the wicketkeeper – saw his off stump uprooted and Josh Johnson followed, adjudged caught behind off the next – leaving Ashcombe on 78-6.
But Park skipper Dave Proffitt (24no) was never going to be denied, taking several quick singles then straightdriving his opposite number Richard Bebbington over the wall for six before clipping Butt to the fine-leg boundary for the winning runs, as he and Lee Slater saw Ashcombe home with nine balls remaining.
With Ryan Ball and Nick Goodwin both scoring nine plus 17 from Brad Cartlidge, Ashcombe’s reply had got away to a steady start, reaching 65-3 when the weather, always threatening, abruptly closed in leading to the long delay. Butt ended with figures of 5-48, but it was Ashcombe’s bowlers who had earlier given the home side the perfect platform for what followed with another superb performance.
Following Bebbington’s surprising decision to bat first in bowler-friendly conditions and after a half-hour rain delay at the start, Slater (2-22) soon bowled both the Betley openers Forster and Watson with just eight runs on the board.
Haider settled in for an unchanged spell of 17 overs of relentless pressure from the Field end and Butt survived being bowled by Haider off a no-ball – which also cost Ashcombe five runs as the ball ricocheted off the stumps to the boundary.
Fortunately for Ashcombe, Butt added only four more, reaching 18 before being bowled by Josh Johnson at 57-6.
Just three Betley batsmen reached double figures, with the final pair of Jack Langley and James Austin scoring 11 and 10 respectively – adding what might have been an invaluable 17 for the last wicket.
Haider, who ended with 5- 29 and Johnson, who returned excellent figures of 3-23, wrapped up the Betley innings – whose top score became the 22 contributed by extras.
The late resumption in play earned Betley two extra points thanks to Butt’s hattrick – finishing with a total of four; each one vital as they battle to stay out of the drop zone.
Ashcombe’s 20 points should – barring a series of bizarre results over the last four matches – be enough to ensure a second season in Division One.