Blast from the past – always good to read about your old cricket matches

Taken from the birmingham league site (always good to read stuff that other write up)

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Match of the Day – Nuneaton v Moseley Ashfield
09/06/2004 – Nick Archer
This Division Three clash lived up to its billing as Match of the Day and both sides will reflect that they might have won a game that ended as a winning draw in favour of the visitors. Nuneaton will be the more disappointed of the two clubs, having set up an ideal platform to win the game until a late flurry of wickets left them seven runs short of victory with three wickets remaining.Nuneaton won the toss and invited Ashfield to bat in overcast conditions. Lee McNeill struck in the first over, trapping Phil Tompkins leg before wicket with a delivery that kept alarmingly low. Fortunately, the wicket seemed to play better as the match progressed and no other batsman was able to claim that he had been undone by the low bounce. Olly Thomas and Clint Bowyer were restricted by the tight opening bowling attack of McNeil and Russell Rice and they had taken the score to 17 when Bowyer played on to Rice, for 10. The South African appeared to be a good player in the making but this was not his day with the bat. Almost immediately, Val Butt was also bowled by Rice and, at 21 for 3, Ashfield were in need of a salvage operation. At first, Thomas and skipper Paul Smith made slow progress but their patience was rewarded as the innings moved on. Along the way, there were a number of landmarks – a half-century for Thomas, a century partnership, a half-century for Smith, a century for Thomas and eventually, a double century partnership which established a new record for the fourth wicket for Ashfield since they joined the League. At the end of the innings, they had taken the score to 230 for 3 wickets, an unbroken partnership of 209. Moseley stand-off Thomas played a polished innings of 122, including 15 fours from 185 balls faced. His skipper, who was showing signs of fatigue well before the close, finished unbeaten on 72, off 153 balls, with four boundaries. Nuneaton skipper Ruban Field rang the changes but his varied bowling attack was unable to make any impression on Thomas or Smith. Rice finished with 2 for 17 and McNeil finished with 1 for 30.

In reply, Nuneaton lost an early wicket when John Allen was bowled by Butt for a single, with the score on 7. However, the in-form Rice, who had already scored two centuries, this season, and the experienced Ed Milburn set about their task with great determination. Unfortunately, their partnership came to an end when Milburn retired hurt. Mark Evans (8) was bowled by Bowyer, Field was lbw to Amer Hussain and Hussain Caratella was caught behind, by Micky Watts, off Bowyer, before Milburn returned. He and Rice shared a partnership of 101 to add to their earlier stand before Milburn (77) was unfortunate to be stumped by Watts, off Hussain, as he lost his balance. With 15 overs remaining, Nuneaton required seven runs per over, to win the game, and, while Rice and Milburn were together, they looked the likelier winners. Rice progressed to his third century of the season but, while he did so, Jim Fitzsimons was run out and McNeil was stumped by Watts, off Bowyer. Ashfield kept their nerve and Smith’s late innings bowling changes were rewarded with the wickets that put a brake on ‘Nuns’ scoring rate. Ashfield took 14 points from the game, Nuneaton six. Bowyer was the most successful bowler for Ashfield with 3 for 42 and Hussein took 2 for 51.

The Nuneaton ground looked well on this visit and the club has made a seamless transition to this level of cricket. With a developing youth policy, they appear to have a bright future and likely to mount a serious promotion challenge, in future years, if not this season. Ashfield appear to be a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ side, capable of playing well against any club in the Division, one week, then crashing to an easy defeat, the next. The way that Thomas and Smith dug them out of deep trouble was admirable and Thomas, clearly, has the potential to play at a higher level. The South African, Bowyer also looked promising with bat and ball and more consistency from three or four other players could see them mount a promotion challenge of their own. Nuneaton’s most impressive performer on the day was Rice, who also appears to have the talent to progress to a higher level.

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