Aberaeron’s scheduled opening match of the T20 league was a wash-out, and so the teams were very happy to find blue skies as the home team welcomed Aberystwyth’s 1st XI to the seaside ground.
Aberaeron (222-7) beat Aberystwyth (150-9) by 72 runs, Fine & Country West Wales conference T20
The blustery wind was to prove challenging for the bowlers though. This T20 league in the last third of the season is an experiment by the West Wales Conference to try and open up the game to new players for whom the shorter format might be more accessible. This match certainly provided the type of excitement that has made T20 such a popular format in professional cricket.
Aberystwyth’s captain Jim Vaughan won the toss and invited Hywel Rees’ team to bat first. With fielding restricted to only two players outside of the 30-yard zone for the first six overs, Aberaeron went for maximum firepower from the offset, with Steffan Rees and Jamie Davies opening the batting. Steffan went quickly to 14 before he was bowled by Sohaib Syed, but this brought Ted Trewella to the crease, for the first of two match defining innings.
With the added pressure of stricter measures for wides and the gusting wind, the bowlers were struggling to hold their line, and Ted mercilessly punished any ball that was slightly off line or length.
Jamie could hardly get a look in as he watched Ted stroke the ball around with both strength and guile, however, when he did, Jamie would pile in with his trademark smashes down the ground. This took the score to 89 off the first five overs!
Omar Syed was brought on to bowl to try and regain some control and he had Jamie caught out by Mel Jones at mid off for 20. Hywel Rees joined Ted and was clearly trying to give the set batsman as much strike as possible. Again off Omair’s bowling, Ted was adjudged to have edged to the keeper Adam Shaw and was out for 57, including 12 fours.
There was no let up for the visitors as next in Kevin Regan was to continue in the same vein as Ted. With the team score on 116-3 with plenty of overs remaining they were keen to push on a try for a big total. The captain fell when trying to sweep Gruff Jones off middle and leg and was given out LBW for 17.
Neil Snowdon joined Kev in the middle, but it was clear early on that his recurring angle injury was affecting his game. Clearly aiming to score as many in boundaries as possible, Snowy hit out to Anthony Burrell at mid on and was out for 4, giving Sohaib another wicket.
Alex Pitchford joined Kev and the pair progressed the score quickly with sharp running and a few boundaries until Alex miss-timed a pull from Sohaib and was caught by Dave Wilcockson for 9.
Ifan Rishko looked in good form too, opening his account with a fine four, but then was unluckily run out for 9 at the non-strikers end, when a straight drive from Kev ricochet off the bowler Omair to hit the stumps.
Morgan Ashton (1*) ran well with Kev as he continued to smash the ball to the boundary and managed to prove that it could be cleared at the furthest point. Kev finished on 57* including 6 fours and 2 sixes with the team total on 222 for 7.
Sohaib Syed took most wickets with his 59 for 3 off 4, but most economical were Nat Burrell (30 for 0 off 4) and Omair Syed (31 for 2 off 4).
The teams enjoyed another fine tea provided by Y Cadwgan. Perhaps more relaxing for the home team, having set a very challenging total, while the visitors made plans for how they were going to tackle the chase.
Adam Shaw and Nat Burrell opened the batting and they looked to be positive. Aberaeron’s opening bowlers also struggled a little with the wind and offered a few deliveries that the batters welcomed the opportunity to strike for 4. A change in the attack saw Kev Regan, after a few looseners, find his line and length, and bowled Adam for 8. In at No.3, Dave Wilcockson looked to score whenever he could, but with the captain having brought himself to bowl, opportunities were less frequent, as Hywel seemed to find control from the outset and the batters fell quite behind the required run rate.
With the pressure on to score, Nat played an expansive drive outside off and made a good connection, but not quite over Pitchford, who held on to the catch to give Hywel his first wicket, Nat Burrell out for a fine 42, including 6 fours and 1 six.
Dave Wilcockson continued to play his shots to keep the chase in hope, but with Hywel bowling very tight and then joined by Paul Hughes, these bowler took the wickets of father and son in quick succession with Mel Jones LBW to Hywel for 3 and Noa Jones bowled by a fine delivery from Hughes for 1. Paul also then had Sohaib out for 2, caught by Kev Regan, who’s loud call ensured no collision at the bowler’s end. Soon after, Hywel bowled Wilcockson, who had been looking like the visitor’s best hope, for 40 runs, including 5 fours and a 6.
The visitors still had a few big name batters left to come, but when young off spinner Morgan Ashton joined the attack, it became very difficult for them to score freely.
Morgan bowled very precisely and varied his pace well. He first got Anthony Burrell for 11, another batsmen out LBW trying to sweep off the stumps. He then bowled Omair with a fine delivery, turning just enough to hit the top of the off stump. And then with Morgan delivering the final ball of the match, Jim Vaughan (17) top edged to give Jamie Davies a catch at mid-on, having batted in a valiant last partnership of 18 with Gruff Jones (11*) for the team to finish on 150 for 9.
Excellent bowling by Hywel Rees, with an incredibly tight spell of 3 for 10 off 4 and Morgan’s 3 for 21 off 3 made the chase too difficult for Aberystwyth. However, Kevin Regan was voted Aberaeron’s player of the match for his 57 runs, a key wicket and a catch, although it was a close call, with Ted’s fast fifty having set the tone for the home side’s innings.
Report: Alex Pitchford