South East Wales Cricket League Division Three (First XI) - Monmouth CC (241-6) lost to Pontymister and Crosskeys CC (243-5) by five wickets
FOR the second week running at the Monmouth Sports Ground the result would go right down to the final delivery, but unlike the Second XI’s successful last gasp victory last weekend, Monmouth’s Firsts would suffer the agony of defeat.
After a minute’s silence was held for the victims of last week’s attack in Manchester, Monmouth, sponsored by Burkert Fluid Solutions, won the toss after a short rain delay, and decided to bat first in what was now a 43 over a side contest. Once again an outstanding wicket meant steady scoring was possible throughout with Dave Croudace (27), Henry Breeze (42) and Matt Jones (29) all getting starts without really kicking on.
At 155-4 off 30 overs the innings was evenly poised, but thanks to a strong partnership between Paul Swingwood (41 not out) and in form captain Adam Roberts (73) Monmouth took the score up to a decent looking 241-6 off their allotted 43 overs. For Pontymister and Cross Keys the stand out bowler was spinner Mo Asif (4-40) who kept the Monmouth total from getting too out of hand, and there was a wicket also for James Baker (1-42).
In reply Pontymister made a decent effort in keeping up with the required rate as Luke Armstrong (11), Asif (16), Zulfiqar Ali (59) and James Baker (25) all made useful contributions as the score reached 143/4 at the 30 over mark. However, man of the match A.Arshad was in a particularly brutal mood, hitting two fours and three huge sixes as his 64 not out in just 55 balls would turn out to be the difference.
The visitors, promoted from Division Four last season, seemed to be struggling when needing 13 to win off the final over to be bowled by veteran all-rounder Swingwood, but when they needed six off the last ball for the win, Arshad held his nerve and deposited the ball into the conifer trees over the far side of the ground to spark jubilant scenes from the visitors and scenes of despair from the hosts.
With the ball for Monmouth, it was great to see Wales under 15 left arm spinner Ben Davies (1-46) back fit after his recent shoulder injury, and his bowling in tandem with Gloucestershire under 14 leg spinner Sam Swingwood (1-43) helped Monmouth control large parts of the middle overs. There were also wickets for Paul Swingwood (2-51) and a promising wicket-keeping debut from Gwent under 14 Joe Harris.
Monmouth must now pick themselves up for the challenge of travelling to last year’s runners up in Division Three, Crumlin, who defeated them at home last season and currently sit undefeated in second place in the league after an impressive start to the season.
Anyone interested in playing cricket for Monmouth should email JDespo@aol.com