Bangor CC 1st Xl v Woodvale CC 1st Xl
Bangor hosted Section 1 favourites Woodvale at a typically blustery Upritchard Park. With the overnight rain still sitting on the lush outfield, Bangor skipper decided to bat first after winning the toss. Woodvale’s player/coach Strydom sent down thunderbolts at searing pace. Fortunately, he only threatened the batsman’s head, and not their stumps as he continued with a short length that openers Burns, and McCollum were comfortable with. At the other end, Saeed was bowling intelligently, largely pitching the ball up to the stumps. Indeed, it was Saeed who got the breakthrough clean-bowling Burns for 10.
McCollum was joined by Nixon as they attempted to build a meaningful partnership in face of some hostile bowling from the South African Strydom. Nicky was looking particularly fluent, even hitting his first ever six off Saeed to the 35-yard boundary on the leg side. His attempt landed a mere inch over the rope, but as he rightly said, ‘a six is a six’. Clearly the mentorship of Evan Fraser is paying dividends as Nicky has developed his legside game this season. The pair brought the total to 70 before McCollum chipped Browne to long-on, perhaps over-enthused from his maximum earlier. Rather foolishly, Nixon repeated McCollum’s dismissal soon after leaving the two in-form batsmen of Khan and McCusker at the wicket.
Both men were looking very comfortable, before McCusker chopped on to his stumps for 18. Khan continued on his merry way, despatching the change bowlers around the beautiful Upritchard Park. Club veteran, Mark English, joined Khan in the unfamiliar 6 position and went about his business in typical classy fashion, stroking covers drives with consummate ease; it is a real shame he isn’t available for every fixture. After a lusty blow off Strydom, Khan was bowled trying to repeat the feat, for a very elegant 55.
English and Patterson took the Bangor total to 211 with some scampered singles and sophisticated shots which sum up both men perfectly.
Bangor were buoyant at half time after achieving their first goals of batting the allotted overs, and scoring in excess of 200, however they were aware that Woodvale have a very experienced batting line up.
Regulars Khan and Nixon started proceedings with Khan exercising seniority by bowling downhill and downwind. Nixon was the first to draw blood, finding the edge of Irwin’s bat, as Khan took a smart catch at first slip. Bangor were unlikely not to collect more wickets in the first 10 overs, however with the scoreboard on only 22, it showed the control they had on the innings.
Change bowlers Prince and Bates were on it from ball one, albeit with differing styles. Prince bowls with guile and accuracy, whereas debutant Bates bowled with extreme pace and bounce from his 6’11” frame. Prince struck twice in quick succession, trapping Fleming LBW, and then having Strydom caught behind by the athletic Grifford. At 46-3 after 16, Bangor were in the ascendency.
Unfortunately, the experienced pair of Connolly and Saeed batting with immense skill and maturity, piling on over 100 runs before Burns lured the latter into a false shot. To Bangor’s credit, they persevered throughout, and on another day, Bates could have had 4 or 5 wickets. Credit must go to Bates on debut, who looked genuinely threatening every ball, and Khan who followed up his 55 with 8 over for a miserly 9 runs. As has been the status-quo in recent years, Woodvale’s experience was to prove the difference as they crossed the line with 6 wickets and 5 overs in the bank.