North Staffordshire & South Cheshire League, First Division
NOT FOR the first time this season, Ashcombe Park’s batsmen failed to capitalise on a great performance by their bowlers. In pursuit of Blythe’s total of 157, Ashcombe never threatened the target set by their hosts and were eventually dismissed for just 99 to lose by 58 runs.
A bright start for Ashcombe saw Rizwan Haider and Josh Johnson both claim an early wicket as Blythe, put in to bat, slipped to 18-2 before Craig Grimley and Asif Hussain mounted a counter-offensive.
Runs flowed as Grimley cracked six boundaries in his innings of 26 and Hussain joined in with four 4’s and a six in a half-century partnership before Ashcombe began to re-assert control.
Six overs produced only five runs during which Haider dismissed both batsmen in quick succession Grimley caught by Ashcombe skipper Dave Proffitt and Hussain lbw for 31.
The home side then lost Dan Hammond and Aqab Ahmed as Haider claimed a fourth wicket and Johnson (2-49) a second, with Blythe now 84-6 and fighting to stay in the game.
Joe Alcock, making his 1st XI League debut, replaced Johnson at the Church end and kept the pressure on, bowling five maidens in a tidy first seven overs plus having Blythe skipper Peter Finch caught behind in figures of 1-8, before runs came more freely off his last two overs as he ended with 1 -26 off nine.
Tom Simcock, in at 73-4, went on to record Blythe’s top score of 39 before becoming Gary Mandley’s first victim, caught at slip by Haider.
Replacing Haider at the Pavilion end, Mandley bowled well, with excellent figures of 2-19.
But with contributions of 18 from Jamie Ball and 10 from Lea Bolton, Blythe’s tail wagged – the last three wickets adding 47 – before Haider, finally recalled to the attack, took just two balls to end the innings. He bowled Bolton to finish with 5-40 and passing 50 wickets for the season on the way.
After tea, it was pretty much downhill for Ashcombe as wickets fell with depressing regularity in the face of Blythe’s probing attack.
Ahmed worked up a lively pace with unpredictable bounce from the Pavilion end whilst Finch backed him up from the other.
Nick Goodwin departed first, run out after his leading edge just evaded the diving grasp of Ahmed – only for that player to seize the ball and throw down the stumps as the batsmen attempted a quick single.
Brad Cartlidge was caught at midon from Finch’s well-disguised slower ball and Haider followed, caught leg-side by keeper Hammond off Ahmed at 26-3.
Dave Proffitt departed at 47-4, caught at cover by Heslop off Finch and with no addition, opener Ryan Ball’s battling hour-long stay for 24 was also ended by a catch behind the stumps as Ahmed claimed a second wicket. Chris Bradstreet (5) was caught at 62-6 before Steve Proffitt and Josh Johnson staged something of a comeback, taking the total up to 97. But Finch (2-28) had taken himself out of the attack and brought on spinner Lea Bolton, who gave the ball plenty of air and temptation.
Johnson had reached 11 with a mighty six over mid-wicket but tried a repeat two balls later and was caught on the boundary by Ahmed.
Gary Mandley swept and missed and was lbw. All Ashcombe hope went as Steve Proffitt, clocking up the visitors’ best score of 28, was held at slip as Ahmed ended with 4-51.
Last man Alcock struck a handsome cover drive which resulted in an even better-looking catch by Heslop, as Bolton finished with 3-14.
Ashcombe plummeted from 96-6 to 99 all out, with almost 40 overs of their innings going to waste.