TWENTY/20: Town edge their way through to Finals Day
Those turned on by wham-bam cricket when a brightly coloured ball disappears to all parts would have hated this Twenty/20 clash at Bretton Gate.
Purists, on the other hand, would have relished a good old-fashioned contest when batsmen had to work hard on a difficult surface against skilled operators with a ball in hand.
The bare facts say Peterborough Town beat neighbours Oundle by five runs in a Northants T20 quarter-final to book a place in a high quality last four on Finals Day at the Northants County Ground later this month.
But scores of 118-8 against 113-5 shouldn’t be taken at face value. A total of 17 fours and one six shouldn’t mean the game is dismissed as a bore fest.
Oundle reached the final ball requiring Ben Graves to hit a six off the bowling of Lewis Bruce to tie the scores and send his side through by virtue of losing fewer wickets.
Graves had achieved the not inconsiderable task of smacking another star Minor Counties bowler Paul McMahon for a maximum a couple of overs earlier, but Bruce held his nerve to send Town through.
Town sould have been concerned at 2pm when pro batsman Asim Butt was forced to withdraw because of a family emergency. They would have been more worried at 7.30pm when Harrison Craig remarkably claimed a wicket maiden in the final over of the innings to leave Town vulnerable.
Oundle promptly raced to 23-0 in three overs, but then Town’s slow bowlers took a grip of the game with four wickets falling for three runs to Bruce (who despatched both Oundle openers in the same over), McMahon and leg-spinner Danny Oldham - the latter crucially snared former first-class performer Ben Smith with his first delivery.
Graves, who struggled to time the ball early on in his unbeaten innings of 45, and Cameron Wake steadied the ship, but a big playing area, a spinning wicket and astute field placings meant they fell so far behind the rate, a late spell of strong ball-timing from Phil Adams arrived too late.
Bad balls were bowled by both sides, but few sped to the boundary. Oldham finished with 2-12 from four overs, while Bruce claimed 2-16 as well as a fine catch to dimiss Wake. Bruce picked up the key wicket of dangerous South African Hanno Kotze who saw teenager Mohammed Danyaal hold on to a skier just three balls after he’d been dropped.
Bruce also top scored for Town with 26 before he was stumped off a wide, one of three wickets for tidy off-spinner Jack Bolsover.
Town were well placed at 64-2 from 10 overs, but it became hard work when pace was taken off the ball. Left-armers Craig (2-14) and Graves (2-25) finished with decent figures for Oundle.
Town now join current Northants Premier Division leaders Rushton, reigning champions Old Northamptonians and a strong Finedon side at Finals Day on Sunday, June 23.
D. Clarke st Foster b Craig 6
A. Mitchell c Bolsover b Hussain 15
D. Sayer lbw Bolsover 16
L. Bruce st Foster b Bolsover 26
P. McMahon c Wake b Graves 9
J. Dawborn c and b Graves 17
C. Milner b Bolsover 2
M. Danyaal not out 10
D. Oldham lbw Craig 0
C. Parnell not out 0
TOTAL (8 wkts) 118
Bowling: H. Craig 4-0-14-2; B. Hussain 4-0-33-1; P. Patel 2-0-14-1; H. Kotze 2-0-13-0; J. Bolsover 4-0-15-3; B. Graves 4-0-25-2.
M. Hodgson b Bruce 7
H. Kotze c Danyaal b Bruce 14
B. Smith c Clarke b Oldham 2
P. Foster c Milner b McMahon 0
B. Graves not out 45
C. Wake c Bruce b Oldham 15
P. Adams not out 18
TOTAL (5 wkts) 113
Bowling: J. Dawborn 4-0-35-0; L. Bruce 4-1-16-2; P. McMahon 4-0-22-1; D. Oldham 4-0-12-2; D. Sayer 4-0-17-0.