A bumper weekend of cricket was blessed with some high temperatures and clear skies but sadly not with a second cup upset of the season. The dry conditions meant slow bowling was to the fore across all games with some fine performanced in the Jets’ favour but also some batsmen finding themselves in a spin.
With Ashley’s ground unfit due to drainage works there was the unusual scenario of a Cheshire Cricket League game being held in Derbyshire as both teams travelled to neutral ground in the quaint surroundings of Whaley Bridge. Having completed two dominant wins to start the league season the 1stXI looked undercooked in a tighter contest and ultimately proved their own worst enemy in falling to a sloppy two-run defeat.
Both innings started with the Jets in fine form but, from positions of dominance, they twice let Ashley off the hook and paid a heavy price. Opening bowlers Henderson (2-51) and Carson (2-39) both struck in their first over and some tight bowling reduced the batting side to 100-6. North East added just two wickets in the second half of the innings though, a period of three drops in nine deliveries particularly prevalent in allowing a recovery to 179-8.
To their credit the 1stXI did regroup quickly to start their chase in commanding style. James Banner (29) and Sam Waller (71) compiled a stand of 78 for the second wicket, the latter going on to a second half-century of the season. Again things looked rosey at drinks with the scoreboard a healthy 108-2 but, with many of the side batting in league action for the first time this season, the Jets then capitulated. A final-ball six from the last pair would have spared the side’s blushes but ultimately they were rightly punished for their own errors.
The 2ndXI’s undefeated start continued with another strong performance to beat Knutsford. The Jets didn’t have things all their own way though as a poor start with the bat saw them fall to 31-5, 24 of which had come from the bat of Shez Mirza. Skipper Alex Dyson (58) and youngster Matt Mullany (33) added a vital 92 for the 6th wicket though with the skipper making the side’s first half-century of the season to help post 157-7.
The bowling attack again excelled with single wickets apiece for the strike bowlers upfront, including a first 2ndXI scalp for Sam Thompson. It set up another long spell of slow left arm from 2020’s leading wicket-taker Adam Burgess (3-35) before Reuben Cutts blasted through the Knutsford tail to finish with 4-16, the visitors all out for 102.
Partnerships of 45 between Sam Scragg (30) and Rory Caine (24) and an unbroken 58 between Luke Johnson (29*) and Chris Taylor (24*) helped the 3rdXI to post a winning score at DASC. That ability for the lower order to wag again proved crucial Owen Johnson’s men who will be looking for more consistent batting from the top order in the coming weeks.
No such issues with the bowling which continues to prove the club’s strong suit. The leadership duo of captain Johnson (3-8) and vice Alex Oswell (3-18) both pocketed a trio of wickets whilst Sam Scragg recreated his U19s heroics with another unlikely wicket. Holmes Chapel too produced a valiant effort down the order as they added 54 runs for the last wicket to at least carry them into three figures, dismissed eventually for 107.
In a game rearranged to DASC and shortened to 25 overs a side, the 4thXI suffered defeat from the penultimate ball in a tight game against Didsbury. Ultimately the Jets paid for failing to keep wickets in hand, finishing their innings 8 wickets down in their attempt to set a total. Matt Wragg (27) and Rob Bowden (32) were the only Jets to make double figures in a bits and pieces effort.
The bowlers fought hard to defend and were backed by some excellent fielding that saw two of the visiting top order run out. Didsbury were able to avoid any major collapse though and were favourites as they reached the latter stages of the innings only five wickets down. This enabled a boundary from the penultimate ball to take them to a hard earned victory in a good game of cricket.
Having upset Macclesfield in the previous round the Cheshire Cup draw presented the Jets with a daunting task on Sunday against a Cheadle side riding high in 2nd place in the East Division of the Premier League. Sadly the 1stXI were outgunned by a potent spin attack which quickly asserted dominance on a dry wicket as the batting lineup failed to do themselves justice.
All ten wickets fell to spin as Cheadle’s armoury of wrist spinners and slow left armer Will Holmes (6-12) put on an exhibition of high-class slow bowling. The top order had no answer and the only respite came in the form of 43 runs for the final two wickets as the lower order swung from the hip. 88 all-out in 28 overs finished the game as a contest but the side put on a spirited display in the second innings to at least take something from the experience.
Spin continued to prove the order of the day but with only the part-time off-breaks of Sam Waller (2-22) to rely upon the Jets did what they could to keep the visitors out in the middle as long as possible. Some good ground fielding and controlled seam bowling from Toby Carson and Andy Heath did just that and there was some solace in making the visitors grind out 25 overs before inevitably reaching their target.
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