Banchory 1st XI dig deep for draw

Methlick’s beautiful cricket ground was bathed in warm sunshine last Saturday but recent heavy rain produced a very soggy outfield.

Banchory are the only side to have beaten promotion-chasing Methlick so far this season and they were anticipating another close game, but circumstances meant that the visitors were pretty well outplayed in all departments and were lucky to hang on for a losing draw.

Banchory skipper Guru Sharma won the toss and invited the home side to bat. In retrospect this was an unforeseen mistake. Methlick always know how to bat on their own ground and from the start openers Mark Woodhouse and in particular Stuart Kennedy attacked the bowling from the outset, Ian Pennington’s opening 5 overs going for 42 runs while Itaz Virk at the other end exerted a bit more control. Methlick raced to 96 off only 16 overs when the first wicket fell. Sean Hicks, at the start of his best bowling spell for a while, bowled Kennedy (70) with a deceptive full toss. But Methlick have batting in depth and Aussie Andrew Saward took up the the reins with a stylish knock of 46 not out. He and Woodhouse were held in check for a long period by Banchory’s two best bowlers on the day, Hicks and Tim Wilkinson, the latter dismissing Woodhouse (46) thanks to a fine catch at long-off by Itaz Virk.Once he was out S.Murphy (34 not out) kept up the momentum.Sam Rotheram had just started the 42nd over when a torrential shower had the players sprinting for an early tea. Hicks finished with creditable figures of 1 for 32 off 8 overs and Wilkinson 1 for 48 off 12.

Banchory’s strength is their batting and under normal circumstances they would have been reasonably confident of chasing down the runs, but the covers had leaked resulting in a wet strip on a length outside a right-hander’s off stump and the outfield had become even more saturated. So circumstances had dealt the visitors an unlucky hand. As it was, despite these conditions, they didn’t bat very well and most batsmen seemed to lack Methlick’s confidence to go for their shots. And Methlick bowled a lot better. A succession of batsmen got going but failed to build an innings and it was only at the end that a bracing partnership between Sharma (7) and Matthew McPherson (24 not out) gained the visitors a few more face-saving points and virtually achieved an ill-deserved draw. But with two balls left the Banchory skipper inexplicably ran himself out, leaving Ian Pennington to see out the final ball.

Methlick’s superior bowlers were Andy Saward (2 for 13), Jason Peet (2 for 30), Stuart Kennedy (2 for 19), Colin Addison (1 for 30) and Brian Anderson (1 for 5).

As ever with Methlick the match was played in great spirit and much amusement was provided by Jason Peet who dived about in the mud so much that his whites were unrecognisable by the end.

Saturday’s match ball was donated by The Ravenswood Club of the British Legion.

Last Sunday’s Bon-Accord Cup semi-final against St Ronald had reached an evenly matched 70 for 1 off 14 overs for the visitors when rain caused the abandonment of the game. But it provided a promising debut for newcomer Indradeep Sen whose opening spell secured the only wicket.