Hard-fought victory for Monmouth seconds

By Jake Chown  
Friday 24th August 2018 3:14 pm

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South East Wales Cricket League Division Three (Second XI) - Monmouth (130-4) beat Pontymister and Crosskeys (129 all out) by six wickets

A FIVE-wicket haul for Jonathan Jones and a half-century for Chris Chalk were the highlights, as Monmouth Cricket Club Second XI made it four wins in a row following a hard-fought six-wicket win at home to Pontymister and Cross Keys.

The visitors won the toss and elected to bat, making a positive start to reach 45 for no loss from 11 overs. Nonetheless, Monmouth’s opening bowlers Neil Saunders (0-18 from five overs) and Tony Brennan stuck to their task and Brennan (1-36 from eight overs with one maiden) made the breakthrough in the 12th over, courtesy of a diving catch at point from 13-year-old Owen Harris.

As the game progressed, it became apparent that the wicket, unlike a typical Sportsground track, was not going to favour the batting side and with long boundaries and a slow outfield skipper Rick Parkes made an early decision to turn to spin.

The change saw Owen Harris (0-29 from eight overs) tie up one end with a controlled spell of off-spin from both over and round the wicket, which the visitors could not get away.

At the other end, Jonathan Jones’s left-arm spin turned the ball the other way and he removed the dangerous-looking N.Brown (48) thanks to a sharp catch at extra cover from Parkes.

Thereafter the visitors had no answers to Jones’s flight and variation, as he tore through the batting line-up to finish with the impressive figures of 5-15 from eight overs with three maidens.

With Pontymister having collapsed from 85-1 to 116-6, Monmouth went in pursuit of fielding points and second team debutant Declan Coetze (0-16 from three overs) was unlucky not to take a wicket during a short spell that enabled Parkes to bring senior bowlers Aled Jones and Ian Morgan on at the right ends to continue the attack.

In a final blitz Morgan (2-10 from 3.2 overs) and Jones (2-3 from three overs) made light work of the tail to leave Pontymister on 129 all out in the 39th over.

There were also two catches for Brennan, while third team captain Barry Jones, making his season’s debut for the second XI, took four stumpings as the home side left the field for tea glowing from an excellent bowling and fielding display.

However, while keen not to lose early wickets, Monmouth’s reply got off to a very slow start as openers Morgan and Parkes found runs very difficult to come by, due to a combination of very accurate bowling from the visitors opening attack with a batting track that had not got any easier.

For Morgan and Parkes, it was a question of having to get through the openers to see what the change bowling would bring. Indeed, having managed just 19 runs from the openers’ first 16 overs, they doubled the score to 38 in the 21st over before Morgan (23) was caught at midwicket attempting to up the strike rate. He was followed fairly shortly afterwards when Parkes (9) was bowled attempting to hit out.

The attention now turned to the in-form Chris Chalk, but the home side’s hearts were in their mouths as Chalk was dropped twice in his first over, at slip and midwicket. This was a critical moment in the game and one that the visitors were to regret, as Chalk took full advantage of the let-offs, settling into an innings that combined putting away anything short with some assertive running between the wickets, particularly during a frantic partnership with Jake Bowley.

When Bowley was caught hitting out at mid-wicket, the game was still a tight affair at 69-3 in the 28th over, as it was when Jonathan Jones, who had been moved up the order to push the score on, fell in the 32nd with the score on 86-4.

While Monmouth were favourites with six wickets in hand, they also needed to score at five runs an over. As a result, another change was made to the original batting order, which saw Aled Jones come to the crease and off the mark with a boundary from the first ball he faced.

The momentum then moved quickly in Monmouth’s favour as the runs that had been so difficult to find all day suddenly started to flow. Jones (15 not out) and Chalk put the game beyond all doubt when 16 runs came in the 35th over as Chalk (54 not out) brought up his half century with a huge six before hitting the winning runs with a boundary to leave Monmouth victors by six wickets in the 36th over.

The win, and results elsewhere mean that the Second XI nudged their way to second place and enter their last two games in a three-way fight at the top of Division Three.

Next up Monmouth, sponsored by Bürkert Fluid Control Systems are away at fourth-placed Creigiau.

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