Bangor had a potential banana-skin in the form of newly promoted Laurelvale CC at a sun-kissed Upritchard Park. Bangor, who were on an unprecedented run of 5 games where they scored in excess of 220, were asked to field first as the away side presumably felt this was their best chance to take the 4 points back to Portadown.
On a wicket that produced over a thousand runs the previous weekend, Bangor knew a score under 200 would be below par; as it happened, Laurelvale batted for 45 overs, eking out 134 turgid runs.
The bowling innings started perfectly as Nixon found the edge, once again snaffled at first slip by his opening partner Khan. Things could have been better for the home side had an easy chance been taken off Weir, whose batting was more Boycott than Botham. With the score on 12-1 after 9 overs, the missed chance was purely prolonging the inevitable as the batsmen showed little to no intent on scoring runs, contrary to the objective of the game.
With the batsmen playing forward defensive shots prior to the ball being delivered, skipper Burns turned to his trump card in Bates to send down his thunderbolts. Indeed, it was Bates who made the breakthrough with the score on 19-1 off 15 overs. What happened next deserves its own paragraph.
Bates ran in, slamming the ball on a perfect length to find the edge of Edgar’s bat. The ball travelled at an alarming rate between Khan at first slip, and Adam McCusker at second slip. Adam, who is probably as athletic as a 21-year-old Jonty Rhodes, dived and plucked the ball an inch off the ground with his left hand to pull off the most spectacular catches anyone has ever seen. It will certainly go down in history for Bates, as his first Bangor CC wicket since joining in the winter.
Post unbelievable catch, there was another lull as Laurelvale continued to bore the large crowd gracing the beautiful ground. In an attempt to lure the visitors from their trench, Burns brought on McCollum to bowl some inviting off-spin deliveries. The plan was set, presumably under the guidance of McLarnon who had done similar recently; bowl it half way down and trap the batsmen LBW as the ball begins to descend for its second bounce. Bingo. Nicky executed the plan to perfection as umpire McCullough raised the finger.
McCollum and Burns picked up the remaining 7 wickets, with the former returning figures of 6 for 17 off 10. McCollum’s wickets were a real bonus, and if he can work on his consistency, he could be a force to be reckoned with. Bangor were just relieved to end the spectacle that was Laurelvale’s batting innings. The aforementioned Weir carried his bat for 50* off 45 overs.
Bangor were a tad deflated in the break as they had failed to bowl their opponents out sooner, especially in what was an energy sapping day with humidity touching 95%. This being said, a run-chase of 135 was going to be an issue, and so it proved.
Openers McCollum and Burns got off to their slowest start of the season, as they ‘meandered’ to 54 off 10 overs before Edgar had McCollum caught at point. Khan and Burns fell in similar fashion as Edgar’s medium pace was difficult to get away on a wicket that was starting to hold.
Fortunately for Bangor, Nixon and McCusker took them to within striking distance before the latter ill-advised the former to take a second to deep cover as Nixon was short of his ground, scoring a tired 35. The fielding hero, McCusker finished on 25* as Bangor crossed the line without further alarm, leaving them joint top of the table with 3 wins from 4. They are fully aware that tougher tasks will be on the horizon as their next league fixture is against a strong Downpatrick outfit.