Ian Mosquito takes first Rainhill wickets at Nantclwyd
Nantclwyd 287-5 (Irfan Hanifa 41*, Steve Carter 39*; James Martin 2-44, Ian Mosquito 2-68)
Rainhill 134-4 (Jac Evans 41*, James Martin 37*; Mayur 2-6, Sion Ap Mihangel 1-6)
Nantclwyd beat Rainhill by 143 runs
Scorecard Part of the joy of Sunday cricket is the opporunity to play the game at picturesque grounds, and they don't come more picturesque than Leyland Oval, home of Nantclwyd (pictured, above). Nestled in the Clwydian mountains with the historic 14th century St Elidan's Church in the background, the setting was idyllic. The club's pavillion, a time capsule of club memorabilia and photographs, is what every club's pavilion looked like 75 years ago - an ornate, whitewashed wooden structure of the type beloved by cricket nostalgics. However, it was not so much the aesthetically-pleasing surroundings that invoked the best traditions of Sunday cricket but the friendliness of our hosts. Knowing in advance that we were two players short, they had recruited an additional couple of all-rounders to join our depleted ranks for the day. A more welcoming, friendly team would be difficult to imagine When he eventually found his way to the ground, getting lost en route, Rainhill captain Joe Crossley opted to field first. Jac Evans and James Martin opened the bowling and while the former was most effective at denying Nantclwyd runs it was Martin who took the opening wicket, persuading Mayur to hit out only to be caught by... you've guessed it, Jac Evans. The two combined again for the second wicket, when Jonny Clayton hit a delivery from Martin to long on where Evans was waiting to take the catch.
The match was a "36er" - i.e. 36 overs per side with batters retiring on reaching 36. Ifan Hanifa was the first to do this, hitting a six off Ian Mosquito's bowling to take his score to 41. Next in was Dan Edwards, who got off the mark with a nice drive to the boundary only to be deceived by a slow ball from Mosquito (pictured, left) that found its way through to middle stump. Steve Carter joined Oly Jones and they began to acclerate the run rate, finding gaps in the field and running well between the wickets. Jones was almost the victim of a brilliant piece of fielding from wicketkeeper Andrew Page, but unfortunately the catch wasn't held. Rainhill didn't have to wait long for the next wicket, however, as Jones also holed out to long on - giving Mosquito his second wicket of the afternoon and Evans his third catch. At 122 for 4, Rainhill were very much in the game, but impressive contributions from Carter (39 not out, retired), Sion Ap Mihangel (38 not out, retired), Max Barbados (22), the entertaining Simon Shakespeare (37 not out, retired) and Martin Woodward (24 not out) took the hosts to the impressive total of 287 for 5. Ken Rustidge took his first Rainhill wicket when he dismissed Barbados, while Anna Page and Ben Wilkinson bowled well at the end, but it wasn't enough to avoid Nantclwyd posting a formidable target. Disaster struck Rainhill in the first over when Simon Shakespeare bowled Ken Rustidge with a beautiful and virtually unplayable in-swinger. Andrew Page then joined Richard Appleton and they successfully negotiated some penetrating bowling, taking the score on to 14 before Appleton edged behind to wicketkeeper Carter. As has happened often this season, Andrew and Anna Page came together and they played defiantly to avoid further wickets. Runs didn't come easily, but Anna played a hook shot that (contrary to the batters' assumptons) didn't quite run to the boundary - it was possibly the best shot for a single in the entire game. The pair put on 11 for the third wicket before Anna was bowled by Mayur.
James Martin was next in and at this point Rainhill began to score more quickly. Martin
sent a couple of balls to the boundary in the first over he faced and then Page, who had until this point been happy to play an innings of which Geoff Boycott would have been proud - solid but unspectacular - got in on the act, directing a shot over the wicketkeeper for four runs. The target was, at this point, academic, but Martin was keen to score runs.
With Martin racing away, Page retired after 23 overs and was replaced by debutant Ben Wilkinson (pictured, right). Wilkinson played creditable and hit six runs before he was bowled by Sion Ap Mihangel - but not before he had showed enough to suggest that there will be many more runs coming from his bat. Evans then joined Martin and the fun started as he hit three sixes and four fours en route to an unbeaten 41. Martin also retired, on 37. It was left to Ian Mosquito and Joe Crossley to see out the innings, which they did without further loss of wickets. Rainhill finished on 134 for 4 - a long way behind Nantclwyd but having thoroughly enjoyed a great afternoon of cricket.
Ian Mosquito's wickets were his first for Rainhill - indeed, his first ever wickets as he only began playing the game this season. Anna Page continues to improve as an all-round player, while Ken Rustidge showed his potential as a spinner. Ben Wilkinson is an exciting prospect that we are likely to hear a lot more about in the future.