Peterborough Town scrambled to a two-wicket win in their opening game of the Northants Premier Division season today (April 23).
Wollaston are normally the most accomodating of visitors to Bretton Gate, but, after suffering a nightmare start, they almost pulled off an unexpected win against a Town team setting out in pursuit of a fourth title win in five matches.
Joe Dawborn, a fast bowler seemingly intent on taking snarling aggression to new highs, was the leading wicket-taker in this competition last summer and started the new season with impressive intent as he bagged two wickets with the fifth and sixth balls of the opening over of the game to leave Wollaston on 0-2.
But instead of folding like so many opponents in the recent past, Wollaston rallied to 57-2 before crawling their way up to 126 all out in the face of a four-pronged seam attack. Some butter-fingered catching didn’t help the home side, although a chill wind made catching a real trial in so open a ground.
Dawborn, who looked to be struggling with his run-up, finished with 3-32, while England youth international David Sayer recoverd from a sloppy start to post 3-46 from 10 overs, but both were out-bowled by teenage prospect Danny Mohammed.
The former Stamford School pupil claimed 3-16 in five overs and snared top scoring opening batsman Mark Jones for 53.
Town looked hot favourites to win at half-time, but 30 minutes into the second innings they were less confident. Openers David Clarke and Lewis Bruce fell cheaply and Town were 17-3 when Tim Young departed and not too long afterwards they were 51-5 with Asim Butt and Marcus Howard both back in the dressing room.
But Ajaz Akhtar stood firm and used all his experience to guide Sayer in a partnersip of 35. Sayer went first for 20 and when Akhtar followed soon afterwards for a Town top score of 38 the match was still in the balance.
Dawborn fell cheaply, but wicket-keeper Chris Milner, who is often a good man in a crisis, and Mohammed compiled a crucial ninth-wicket stand of 18 to steer Town home.
PETERBOROUGH TOWN beat WOLLASTON by 2 wkts
H. Broome lbw Dawborn 0
M. Jones b Mohammed 53
M. Ralph c Milner b Dawborn 0
J. Webster c Milner b Smith 0
T. Howes b Dawborn 3
S. Musgrave b Sayer 8
C. Elderton b Sayer 0
C. Perry lbw Mohammed 13
M. Carter lbw Mohammed 0
J. Coutts c Milner b Sayer 8
K. Bahra not out 5
Bowling: J. Dawborn 9-3-32-3; D. Sayer 10-1-46-3; J. Smith 5-0-29-1; D. Mohammed 5.1-1-16-3.
D. Clarke c Jones b Coutts 3
L. Bruce lbw Bahra 4
A. Butt b Bahra 15
T. Young c Jones b Bahra 4
M. Howard b Bahra 1
A. Akhtar c Webster b Musgrave 38
D. Sayer c Webster b Musgrave 20
C. Milner not out 20
J. Dawborn c Ralph b Coutts 1
D. Mohammed not out 9
TOTAL (8 wkts) 130
Bowling: J. Coutts 14-3-36-2; K. Bahra 7-2-30-4; C. Perry 10-3-30-0; S. Musgrave 13.1-2-29-2.
Oundle lost a remarkable game at reigning champions Rushden by two wickets.
Oundle, whose new skipper Bashrat Hussain is expected to miss most of the season with a shoulder injury, were asked to bat first and prompptly slumped to 7-4 after three overs, 37-6 and then 49-9. Last wicket pair Jack Roberts (19no) and new South African import Tshepo Moreki added 24 for the final wicket.
And, it was almost enough, as off-spinner Ben Graves bowled beautifully for 5-16 and paceman Moreki claimed 3-44.
RUSHDEN beat OUNDLE by two wickets
Oundle 73 (J. Roberts 19no, S. Branston 4-35, J. Gaul 3-25).
Rushden 74-8 (B. Graves 5-16, T. Moreki 3-44).