Tim Hart reports, “The Western Warriors Under 15s travelled to Scroggie Park (Falkland CC) for the latest Cricket Scotland Under 15 inter-regional championship match – and the team returned with a narrow win.
“Despite losing Sohaib Shah (Poloc CC) LBW in the second over, the Warriors looked set to post a big total as they reached 71 for 2 at the first drinks break (seventeen overs) and 135 for 3 at the second drinks break (34 overs). To this point, Ross Heginbottom (Clydesdale CC) and Daniel Cairns (Clydesdale CC) added 47 for the second wicket against an early pace/seam Caledonian Highlanders bowling attack, then Cairns and skipper Asad Khan (Clydesdale CC) added 21 for the third wicket before Khan and David Sturgess (Clydesdale CC) put on a further 64 for the fourth wicket. However, 135 for 3 then became 165 all out – in just 47.1 overs. Khan’s deserved half-century (53) was backed up by Heginbottom (28), Cairns (23) and Sturgess (21) – but the partnerships for wickets five to ten were just 2, 8, 4, 4 and 0 and the methods of dismissal did not reflect the ability of the lower order batters.
“There was some light rain during tea which slowed the outfield slightly – and Shahzad Ahmad (Ferguslie CC) and Taha Khan (Clydesdale CC) produced the controlled opening spell which was required. Ahmad picked up two wickets, one of which was thanks to an outstanding, one-handed reaction catch from wicket-keeper Richie Simpson (Ayr CC) – and there was a great piece of teamwork from Sturgess with a sliding pick-up and Shah with a cannon throw to pick up a run out. This left the score at 19 for 3, with Ahmad having figures of 5-0-11-2 and Khan 5-0-8-0. Asad Khan, Cairns and Rafay Khan (Renfrew CC) then kept the ‘squeeze’ on the run rate very effectively, with the Highlanders being 39 for 3 off twenty overs. The introduction of Fletcher Rao (Prestwick CC) then resulted in four quickfire wickets – one thanks to a great diving catch from Sturgess, outside the 30-yard circle, at mid-wicket. Highlanders 48 for 7 off 28 overs, with Rao having incredible figures of 3-2-3-4! Sixteen overs later, the score had progressed to 129 for 7 – and suddenly it was 36 to win off 36 deliveries. During the intervening period, it is fair to say that a little complacency appeared to have set in – probably along with some unjustified expectancy that the match would just finish on its own. Also ‘setting in’ were two batters – with Elstone and Evans batting very assuredly and enjoying the biggest partnership of the match. The one thing still in the Warriors‘ favour was that 1 run per delivery was needed – and that Khan had managed to rotate the bowlers in such a way that he had every option left open to him. With Taha Khan and Cairns both only going for 2 runs off overs 45 and 46, the equation changed to 32 needed of 24. When the skipper then conceded only 2 more from the first five deliveries of the 47th over, something had to give. The big swing could only pop up safely into the safe hands of Heginbottom at square leg. Evans out for a very good 36, Highlanders 136 for 8 – and needing 30 off eighteen. Cairns then got the wicket his tight spell (ten overs for 21) deserved, before Ahmad cleaned bowled Elstone (for a very impressive 64) in the final over. Highlanders 146 all out, Rao 4 for 19, Ahmad 3 for 21.
“For the neutral, probably a great last passage of play to watch. For the Warriors coaches and spectators, it was definitely a little too close for comfort. The victory should have been more comfortable and the Warriors players will want to continue to build upon some very positive elements with the bat, the ball and in the field. It was good to see four batters getting ‘in’ and to see another batter score a half-century, the bowlers generally offering good control and the three outstanding pieces of fielding which resulted in wickets. Moving forward, the top order batters will want to try and ‘go on’, the lower order needs to show a greater ability to back the skills they have and a find a way of rotating the strike and the bowlers will want to try and maintain the ruthless edge shown at the beginning and end of the innings. Next week’s return fixture at Titwood will give the squad the opportunity to build on all the good points from what turned out to be a good, battling win!”