West Wales Conference
ABERYSTWYTH (245-9) lost to ABERAERON (246-4) by 6 wkts
The players arrived to find an immaculately prepared ground, beautiful sunshine and the perfect temperature; the stage was set for what turned out to be an excellent game of cricket, with twists and turns throughout the afternoon.
Aberaeron’s captain, Hywel Rees, won the toss and decided to give his bowlers the opportunity to dictate the opening period of the game.
Gareth Lanagan and Steffan Roberts opened the batting for the home team and faced Simon Mitchell in the first over. Mitchell’s opening spell was fiery, testing the batters with some short deliveries.
Dave Floyd had a tough job behind the stumps and saved many boundaries with his outstretched glove. Hywel Rees, bowling at the railway end, was more measured in his approach, but his away swingers were troubling the batters.
The opening pair, however, progressed the score well with some fine cricket strokes finding the boundary.
Hywel made the breakthrough in the eight over, with the total on 49, bowling Lanagan for 14 with an accurately delivered away-swinging ball. Iwan Roberts joined Steffan in the middle and, as is often the case with even the most experienced of batsmen, showed signs of vulnerability early on. He survived an early chance and went on to capitalise with accomplished batting.
With pressure building, thanks to Steffan Rees bowling a fast and accurate spell at the other end, Hywel struck again in his next over to have Steffan Roberts caught behind for 26.
Dave Wilcockson joined Iwan and looked composed from the off. The pair made steady progress in a key partnership for Aberystwyth, which could have taken the game away from Aberaeron.
Simon Mitchell returned to break the partnership of 62 runs, tucking Iwan up and find the edge, with Neil Snowdon taking a fine low catch at gully, dismissing Roberts for 43.
Potentially the required exertion was too much for Snowy, who pulled up chasing the ball shortly after and had to leave the field. Thankfully, Aberaeron had a 12th man and Paul Hughes took to the field for the remainder of the innings.
Captain Anthony Burrell joined Wilcockson for the biggest partnership of the innings. Both players took advantage of the spread field to accumulate steadily.
Wilcockson acknowledged his half century and then looked to accelerate, knowing that Aberaeron had a strong batting line up and could chase a big total. Dave hit a fine six down the ground, the first of the day, but after one more boundary, was caught by Hywel Rees off the bowling of Morgan Ashton, having top scored for his team with 58, including seven fours and six.
Mel Jones was very positive in his approach to batting and running between the wickets. He and Burrell continued to keep the scoreboard ticking along nicely. Ted Trewella joined the attack and was able to break the partnership, trapping Burrell LBW for 38. Shortly after Ashton bowled Jones for 8 with the total on 221 after 35 overs.
With less experienced batters at the crease, Aberaeron were able to curtail the home team’s scoring. Omair Syed hit a few nice fours before being bowled by Trewella for 14. Some sharp fielding produced two run outs, effected first by Steffan, then Hywel Rees. This gave an opportunity for Aberaeron to grab the last bowling point on the final ball of the innings, but a drop at square leg saw the chance go begging. The innings closed at 245-9, with Peter Loxdale, having added 4 runs, and Iestyn Roberts not out.
Hywel Rees was probably the pick of the bowlers, claiming two big wickets from the top order, finishing with 43-2. All the bowlers produced tidy spells though, and the regular fall of wickets, along with tight fielding, gave Aberaeron a target that they could feel reasonably confident about reaching. However, no batter had looked completely comfortable on this pitch, and so clearly there was something in it for the bowlers too and Aberystwyth had good reasons to believe they could defend their total. At the halfway point the game felt very finely balanced.
Hywel Rees had an inspiration at the tea interval, and decided upon an innovative tactic. When chasing a total of around 240, the received wisdom is to take a steady approach for the first twenty overs, reach a 100 for the loss of as few wickets as possible, and then to accelerate to the target in the second half of the innings. Rees decided to turn this upon its head. Jamie Davies, who till now has been reserved in the late middle order before being given an opportunity to produce his fireworks, was asked to open the batting as a pinch hitter. Jamie, along with regular opener Steffan Rees, took advantage of the early restrictions to start the chase at a furious pace.
The opening 8 overs was a riotous affair, Jamie playing his trademark powerful clubs down the ground, putting many balls onto the railway tracks. Steffan exploited all areas of the field as he attempted to keep a-pace with Jamie. The onslaught did not relent after the fielding restrictions allowed more men to be placed out in the deep and as the ball kept speeding to the rope the pressure on the Aberystwyth fielding outfit was palpable. Overthrows and mis-fields crept into their play as the usual script for the innings was ripped up. Aberaeron brought up the 100 in the 9th over and were halfway to their target in the 12th.
The opening pair had put on 129 in the 13th over before the partnership was finally broken, when Jamie was bowled by Sohaib Syed for 58, including 6 fours and 3 sixes. There was no doubting that the experiment with Jamie opening had been a success as he was cheered off the field by the onlooking Aberaeron supporters.
Hywel Rees joined Steffan, and the team were hopeful that father and son could see them home in quick time. It was not to be, as Steffan was out LBW to Wilcockson for 58 an over later, having hit 7 fours and a six. Despite two quick wickets, the opening partnership had left Aberaeron in such a strong position that there seemed little cause for concern.
In-form batters, Ted Trewella and Alex Pitchford, were found to be insufficiently cautious in their approach, both looking to be positive and end the match in a flourish. First, Trewella was bowled by Wilcockson before making a run, then Pitchford, after a few overs riding his luck, hit a comfortable catch to Wilcockson at point off Sohaib’s bowling to be dismissed on 2. 129-0 had become 158-4 in the space of 6 overs and suddenly the momentum had shifted. Where heads had been a bit down, the Aberystwyth fielders were lively again and sensing an unlikely victory. Aberaeron still required 88 runs, albeit with 24 overs to score them, with 5 fit batters and an injured Snowdon to come.
John Fice joined the captain and showed all his experience as the team’s long-standing opening batsman. Hywel continued to score quite freely, but Fice seemed focused only on not giving his wicket away and avoiding any chance that Aberaeron might squander the commanding position they were in.
This pair have batted a great many overs together over the years, although it was unusual to have so many runs already on the board when they came together, and they demonstrated all that experience this day.
Thanks mainly to Hywel’s scoring they reached 191 after 23 overs and seemed to be cruising to victory, but then Aberystwyth turned to the bowling of Lanagan and Loxdale. Both found excellent areas to stifle the Aberaeron batsmen, giving absolutely nothing away.
With time and overs on their side, Rees and Fice were unwilling to take unnecessary risks to attempt to force the matter and Lanagan and Loxdale took advantage of this to fire through a succession of tight overs including three maidens.
The run rate was pegged right back, and the required rate, having been as low as two per over at one point, crept up to 3.5. With five overs remaining, and the score on 222, Hywel walked down the wicket to speak to John. The instruction seemed clear, when next ball Fice stepped back and pulled the ball behind square for four. With both batters now taking a positive approach, the score rate accelerated, and the game was ended with Fice hitting a single from the last ball of the 37th over. Hywel finished on 63* and John on 27*.
Dave Wilcockson was the pick of the bowlers for Aberystwyth, his 8 over spell of 2-46 helped stem the early flow of runs. Sohaib’s 5 overs gave him figures of 2-33. But it was the economical spells of Lanagan (19 off 7) and Loxdale (25 off 6) that took the game close to the end.
For Aberaeron, although Jamie Davies’ 58 and his partnership with Steffan Rees (also 58) was the catalyst for the innings, Hywel Rees’ inspired captaincy, 2 for 43 when bowling and 63* to see his team home meant that he was the player of the match.
This was an important victory for Aberaeron, beating the league leaders at home, as they have been struggling to turn good performances into successful results this season. We look forward to the third and final round of the league, with the top five teams all still in contention for the title.
[report by Alex Pitchford and Arif Saad]
TYWYN & DISTRICT (165-7) lost to COMMONERS (167-3) by 7 wkts
ELECTING to bat after winning the toss, Tywyn struggled to get the run rate going, limited to 165 runs in their 40 overs. Opener Dave Jenkins was their main source of runs, run out on 43 but there were also solid contributions by Morgan Yorke (25), Sam Williams (20), and Alex York (30).
For Commoners, Umar Aslam (2 for 26 from 8), Faysal Shahzad (2-32-8), Ian Lawton (1-23-8), and Guy Baron (1-20-4).
The visitors’ run chase was pretty solid, getting over the line with plenty to spare.
Ian Lawton was the main man with an unbeaten 51, with support by Guy Baron (33), Bill Somerfield (29), Arshad Sher (13), and Umar Aslam (36no).
ABERYSTWYTH II (151 all out) lost to TALYBONT (156-2) by 8 wkts
IOAN Morris top scored with 41 for Aberystwyth with decent support by Austin Thomas, bowled by Phil Abraham on 29.
There were also double figure contributions by Steven Cole on 18, Nigel Salmon with 12 and Matt Salter 13 as the home side’s innings petered out on 151 all out.
Abraham was Talybont’s pick of the bowlers with four wickets for 24 runs from 8 overs, while Z Khan and Graison John took two wickets each.
After a slow start, Rhodri Lloyd Williams 48 not out and Z Khan with an unbeaten 77 took Talybont over the line.
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