The brilliance of Asim Butt ensured that Peterborough Town’s Northants Premier Division title challenge gathered pace at Geddington today (July 4).
While many team-mates struggled in the stifling heat and stiff breeze on their first visit to an excellent village cricket set-up, Butt was in imperious form, carrying his bat for an unbeaten 129, which was exactly half of Town’s 49-over total of 258-7.
An early declaration left Geddington with 61 overs to secure an unlikely victory, but a wicket in each of the first two overs made the result inevitable, although Town might well be concerned that from 39-5 the home side recovered to post 176 thanks in part to some lackustre bowling and fielding. The winning margin should have been much greater than 82 runs.
However a second 30-point return in a row will suffice as will Butt’s form as Town set out on the second-half of the Premier Division campaign in second place behind Rushden.
Butt is Town’s own ‘Little Master’. He was sensible in the early stages against some accurate home bowling, but opened up to geat effect in the second half of the innings, offering just one chance when he was already comfortably into three figures.
Butt struck 14 fours and one six in completing his first ton of the summer. He dominated stands of 40 for the first wicket with David Clarke, 75 for the third wicket with Marcus Howard and 51 for the fourth wicket with skipper Lewis Bruce.
Howard provided the second highest score of 29 which included some handsome drives before he was badly run out by his senior partner.
Joe Dawborn struck some lusty blows to enable Town to end their innings early and immediately claimed a wicket from the third ball of his first over with the help of a smart slip catch by Tim Young.
Fellow opening bowler Jamie Smith also took a wicket in his first over and, while Dawborn was granted a well-earned rest after a week pounding the county 2nd XI circuit, he went on to pick up four of the first five Geddington wickets to fall. Smith finished with 4-52, but he has bowled better when returning much less impressive figures.
The early procession of wickets might have persuaded Town’s players to take their eye off the ball because they quickly became ragged and lethargic in the field as Geddington number seven Dan O’Callaghan launched a fine counter attack.
O’Callaghan, helped by some bowling lines and field placings that didn’t accurately reflect the home side’s tactics, crashed his way to 70 before missing a reverse sweep attempt at Paul McMahon.
McMahon’s three wickets were taken at an expensive rate by his standards, while Kieran Jones and Bruce were also played rather comfortably by lower order batsmen.
Town’s main title rivals Rushden and Finedon both drew yesterday so Town are just 10 points behind leaders Rushden at the half-way point.
Dawborn is playing a three-day game for Northants seconds against Durham at the Northampton County Ground next week (July 8-10).
A. Butt not out 129
D. Clarke lbw Kay 13
T. Young lbw Kay 5
M. Howard run out 29
L. Bruce c Raubenheimer b Morrison 17
P. McMahon b Raubenheimer 21
S. Williams c Potter b Raubenheimer 1
C. Milner b Kay 1
J. Dawborn not out 16
TOTAL (7 wkts) 258
Bowling: K. Morrison 13-0-89-1; J. Kay 10-6-13-3; C. Murdoch 17-0-81-0; M. Bell 6-0-33-0; T. Raubenheimer 3-0-23-2.
M. Steele c Young b Dawborn 0
K. Potter c Butt b Smith 0
C. Murdoch b Smith 11
M. Bell lbw Smith 4
T. Raubenheimer b Smith 14
K. Morrison c and b McMahon 23
D. O’Callaghan b McMahon 70
M. Neave c Milner b Bruce 8
M. Knight not out 9
J. Kay c Jones b Bruce 7
B. Biddle st Milner b McMahon 18
Bowling: J. Dawborn 6-1-20-1; J. Smith 12-3-52-4; K. Jones 3-0-25-0; P. McMahon 7.5-0-48-3; L. Bruce 4-1-23-1.
Oundle moved above Geddington into seventh place after beating Northampton Saints by five wickets at Milton Road.
Saints recovered from 60-4 after 30 overs to post a respectable 213-8 in 55 overs. Bashrat Hussain bowled 17 overs in a row at the start of the Saints innings and returned outstanding figures of 17-9-27-3.
It still proved inadequate as Oundle eased home with over five overs to spare. Peter Foster (87) anchored the Oundle innings before Cameron Wake secured victory with a flamboyant unbeaten 71 from 66 balls, an innings that included four sixes and seven fours.
Northampton Saints 213-8 (M. Wolstenholme 58no, B. Hussain 3-27).
Oundle 218-5 (P. Foster 87, C. Wake 71no).