NORTHANTS PREMIER DIVISION: Cracking cricket, shame about all the dissent
Such a shame in the immediate aftermath of a cracking game of cricket, full of ebbs, flows and marvellous individual displays, that other matters were dominating conversations.
The record books will show Peterborough Town and neighbours Oundle battled out a tense, nerve-jangling Northants Premier Division draw at Bretton Gate - other leagues should note there doesn’t need to be a ‘winner’ for a game to deliver excitement - but the scorecards won’t show the obvious, and often prolonged, levels of dissent, histrionics and amateur dramatics that punctuated the contest, mostly during the second innings when Peterborough Town managed to miss the deadline for bowling 50 overs by a remarkable 36 minutes.
If the home side manage to avoid a points deduction for that indiscretion they will have argued their case with considerable skill. If their players escape sanctions for making frustrations with the standard of umpiring so public they will be considered fortunate by some watching from the boundary edge.
Oundle were not entirely blameless. They have an impressive overseas bowler in Tshepo Moreki, but the South African’s unnecessary ‘send-off’ after dismissing Lewis Bruce prompted a surprise reaction from the usually mild-mannered Peterborough player. It was the first sign a fixture that is always competitive was capable of boiling over in the heat.
Although Peterborough won the points battle by an unfair margin of 16-8 (umpires’ report nothwithstanding) Oundle probably took most pleasure from the result. If ever a team was greater than the sum of its parts it’s Oundle, a team of youngsters plus Richard Cunningham, who on paper lack the strength in depth to get close to Peterborough’s minor counties’ stars and hardened Premier Division players.
But they looked the likeliest winners for much of their innings as they chased down Peterborough’s 207 all-out. Oundle started the match superbly - Peterborough were 8-3 - but finished it by toughing out the final five overs before closing on 186-8.
Oundle’s top order showed their illustrious hosts how to bat with good sense and determination, but once middle-order man Phil Adams was expertly caught on the boundary by Tim Young for a flamboyant 57 they simply ran out of stroke-makers. Oundle were 169-5 when Adams played his final shot.
Bruce finished with 5-50 for Peterborough, figures that would have been even more impressive had he not been forced to change ends to accomodate his seam-bowling team-mates. Adams promplty started using his feet and a strong breeze at his back to clout three mighty sixes off the off-spinner.
Young and Bruce had also combined to rescue Peterborough’s innings from a traumatic start. Captain David Clarke, who played on, and professional Asim Butt, who lost his head, were both clean bowled by Jack Roberts, while opener Ajaz Akhtar made a 25-ball duck after battling hard against Moreki’s speed and accuracy. When Akhtar did manage to locate the ball, Ben Graves claimed a stunning one-handed catch to leave Peterborough in early disarray.
Young was promptly dropped by Jack Bolsover, diving forward at mid-on, off Moreki and the recent Cambridgeshire cap made Oundle suffer. He counter-attacked brilliantly and raced to a 38-ball 50 before holing out for 67. He and Bruce added 114 for the fourth wicket, but from 122-3 the home side crumbled to 161-8 before teenager David Sayer took advantage of Moreki’s surprise withdrawal from the attack to bash an unbeaten 40 - a crucial knock as it turned out.
Bolsover recovered from his fielding lapse to take 4-45 from 15 overs and Moreki finished with 3-24 from 13 overs.
Bolsover (24), Pete Foster (24) and Mark Hodgson (23) all survived a barrage of appeals and verbals to give Oundle a solid platform, but they didn’t quite have enough in reserve to claim their first Premier Division win over their closest rivals.
Peterborough are now joint-second after losing their 100 per cent winning record, four points behind reigning champions Rushden. Oundle are sixth, 25 points behind Peterborough.
A. Akhtar c Graves b Moreki 0
D. Clarke b Roberts 0
A. Butt b Roberts 7
L. Bruce b Moreki 57
T. Young c Hodgson b Bolsover 67
A. Mitchell c Martin b Bolsover 8
D. Sayer not out 40
C. Milner b Moreki 5
M. Danyaal lbw Bolsover 0
J. Dawborn run out 10
J. Smith c Moreki b Bolsover 1
Bowling: T. Moreki 13-4-24-3; J. Roberts 6-2-22-2; B. Graves 12-0-72-0; R. Cunningham 4-0-28-0; J. Bolsover 15-2-55-4.
J. Bolsover c Butt b Bruce 24
B. Graves b Dawborn 7
P. Foster c Sayer b Danyaal 24
M. Hodgson c Sayer b Bruce 23
P. Adams c Young b Bruce 57
T. Moreki c Milner b Dawborn 12
R. Cunningham c Milner b Bruce 5
G. Martin not out 0
T. Snelling lbw Bruce 4
P. Wilson not out 0
TOTAL (8 wkts) 186
Bowling: J. Smith 9-2-36-0; J. Dawborn 15-6-37-2; D. Sayer 5-1-22-0; L. Bruce 15-3-50-5; M. Danyaal 6-1-33-1.