LAST BALL TEST MATCH THRILLER

TGCC 303 for 6 dec & 212 for 6 dec
SHENSTONE COLLEGE OB 262 for 8 dec and 252 for 9

SHENSTONE WIN BY 1 WICKET

shenstone

For anyone with a short attention span or no interest in proper cricket, don’t go any further.  The slow burn to a heady climax is not for you. Stick to your febrile, yet unwholesome limited over fare.

Saturday morning, 11am and upwards of 12 hours cricket beckons.  Toss won and the fourth test was underway. Grafton elected to bat and Russell and Atherton looked positive, solid and more than capable against a more than useful Shenstone bowling attack.  One wicket brings two, alas, as Russell went for 25 and the belligerent Killian playing on for no score. With Killian crying in the pavilion, Grafton were teetering, but Young came in and kept a slowly accelerating Atherton company bringing Grafton to 130 for 2 at lunch (yes, lunch – it’s a test match).  A rather haphazardly put together affair from Williams left no-one unsatisfied, as Grafton were itching to get on with the afternoon session. Young soon went for 33 while Atherton, the bit between his teeth, was starting to play with a freedom usually reserved for the midweek stuff – one particular six quite pre-meditated and brutal.  Clearly under captain’s orders and with an optimistic eye on a declaration prior to tea, those coming in now joined the party. Ashfield Senior needs no second invitation. In fact he needs no invitation full stop – he defines the verb and noun ‘blart’.

Atherton returns to the pavilion following his century

Atherton returns to the pavilion following his century

And so whilst Atherton kept going and was eventually bowled for superb 108, Ashfield simply attached a piece of elastic between his arse and the middle stump and charged the bowler, retreated, charged, retreated ad infinitum.  The result was 58 particularly un-aesthetically appealing runs but wonderfully effective, while equally agricultural was McAdam’s assault from the other end. 58 and 37 respectively allowed Young to declare at 3:15pm at 303 for 6. 

Benjamin and Gough’s four overs before tea didn’t achieve much, unlike the splendid array of cakes, crafted by someone definitely not Kieran Williams.  Thank you Mrs W. And two quick wickets to follow, then a partnership, then wickets for James as the test swung back and forth and Shenstone all got in – 20s and 30s – but got out.  The close of play with an absurd over from the high priest of lunch saw Shenstone 140 for 5 and much to chew over in the end of day podcast – had there been one.

CAKE!

CAKE!

Well, a much warmer day and a large Sunday crowd filling the grandstand gathered for something that no-one could ever have feasibly predicted.  If the past tests are anything to go by, either Grafton’s lower order would be unable to restrain themselves around the cider keg and/or it would be a desperate rear-guard action to save the game and failing miserably at about 5:10pm later on tonight.  Shenstone’s approach can only be described as ‘getting on with it’ as, even with two wickets before quarter past 11, there was only a plan A. A 59 run partnership brought Shenstone within spitting distance, despite a Herculean effort from Howard Benjamin with 19 overs for a mere 29, Will Hill’s 59 not out meant a bold and combative declaration at 262-8 – 39 short and only 12:15pm.  Game very much on and a quiet interlude before a stupendous lunch, courtesy of Mark Johnston.

With only three centrally contracted players (Benjamin, Killian and Young) it was a refreshed Sunday eleven for Grafton.  An inspirational decision to open with George Wilcock was to prove decisive. Despite losing Bilbrough for 9, he batted with utter adherence to instructions – ‘controlled positivity to start, then hit anything slightly loose, then hit anything’.  Doing precisely that, Wilcock hit a remarkable 103, ably supported by Harvey (16), matched by Killian (36) and some effective swishing from Ben Ashfield, Adam Kirk and Andy Lewis. The churlish and negative in the pavilion were of the opinion that we should just bat all day and get a ‘future fixture cancelling’ 500 lead.  And a draw. Maybe we should have. 

George Wilcock celebrates his hundred

George Wilcock celebrates his hundred

Declaration at 212 for 6 and a 251 lead at, again, 3:15pm.  9 for 0 at tea (scones and more cakes) and 243 needed in a probable 35ish overs. And what a final session.  Wickets fell, partnerships blossomed, as the match ebbed and flowed. But the salient fact was that Shenstone’s run rate, at one point 12 an over required dropped to 11, then 10, 9 and so on down until the improbable become probable.  Sparkling cameo’s (Will Hill again – 43) interrupted by massively vital catches – Killian held on to one skier, put the game back in Grafton’s hands but limited bowling options (Onens again hugely effective) meant tired bowlers gradually being flogged.  As Shenstone looked to have pretty much won it, Hill inexplicably tried another six and Killian, again, held on to it in front of the baying crowd by the scoreboard. Gone was the big hitting as suddenly 20 off 4 overs looked impossible. A run out and Shenstone need 15 off three with one wicket remaining, becoming, as the tension cranked up to the very last, needing 8 off the last six balls.  James, under pressure, bowled one, dot, one, dot, dot.

And so six to lose, one wicket to win, five to tie and anything else is a draw.  And of course it went for six.

Posted in Match Reports

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