Walker in­spires Mid­dle­ton to top

Middleton Guardian - - SPORT - PHIL HAMNETT

MID­DLE­TON cap­tain Ge­orge Walker led his team to the top of the ta­ble with a coura­geous bat­ting per­for­mance against Shaw.

It was a great team per­for­mance with sev­eral in­di­vid­u­als step­ping up to the plate when the go­ing got tough, none more so than Walker a se­ri­ous in­jury doubt ear­lier in the week.

Due to damp on the square it meant a late start re­duced to 48 overs as Shaw came out to bat.

Mid­dle­ton pro­fes­sional Chris Wil­liams opened the bowling and was soon find­ing his line and length, five of his overs were maid­ens and this was put­ting pressure on the Shaw bats­men to up the rate.

With the score on 34 Mike Pritchard got his just re­ward for a tidy open­ing spell hav­ing Keav­eny caught by Walker. He fol­lowed this soon af­ter with the key wicket of Saj Mah­mood for 10 to cap a fine open­ing spell, leav­ing Shaw 51-2.

Chris Wil­liams got the vi­tal wicket of cap­tain Whis­ton, caught by keeper Fo­den for 32.

Jameel Stu­art was look­ing to get into his stride and of­fered a cou­ple of dif­fi­cult half chances.

The match was now at a key mo­ment, for an in- form Stu­art could eas­ily take the score above 250 as he be­gan to find the bound­aries with reg­u­lar­ity. There then came two mas­terly run outs by Chris Wil­liams and Rhys Tier­ney, the hard hours on the train­ing ground pay­ing off as the mid­dle or­der bat­ters Tom Brimelow and Rak Mah­mood were dis­missed.

It was tan­ta­lis­ingly in the balance as the lo­qua­cious Walker in­tro­duced spin­ner Matthew Fo­den into the at­tack.

He be­gan to weave his magic and was pin­ning down both bats­men when Stu­art was clean bowled hav­ing reached 46 and with his eye in.

Wil­liams was re-in­tro­duced and his pace ac­counted for Part­ing­ton and Chi­appe. Fo­den ended his fine spell with the last two wick­ets in­clud­ing a truly sen­sa­tional caught and bowled off the last man, to leave Shaw 159 all out.

Mid­dle­ton open­ers Wil­liams and Harry Gee strode out to bat to face the open­ing bowling duo of Saj Mah­mood and Stu­art.

Gee showed his class by dis­patch­ing Mah­mood for a cou­ple of early bound­aries with Wil­liams him­self find­ing the boundary with a glo­ri­ous four.

Stu­art showed his flex­i­bil­ity by switch­ing from his tra­di­tional spin to fierce pace bowling.

The open­ers had moved smoothly to 27 when Mah­mood broke through tak­ing the un­for­tu­nate Wil­liams with a caught and bowled.

This brought Grant Jones to the wicket and his for­ward de­fen­sive proved in­pen­e­tra­ble as he bat­tled to si­lence the crowd and the Shaw team. Gee stroked seven mag­nif­i­cent bound­aries in­clud­ing a ma­jes­tic six which was lost in an ad­join­ing field.

The tem­per­a­ture in the mid­dle was get­ting red hot, but Gee kept a cool head as he led the team to 65, of which he’d made a fault­less 37, when he was caught off the bowling of Stu­art.

The wicket brought the gar­ru­lous Walker out to the mid­dle to join Jones.

Both still rel­a­tively young, these two have been the main­stay of the Moon­rak­ers mid­dle or­der for some years.

De­spite in­jury early in the week, this proved to be Walker’s best knock this sea­son.

Grant was mov­ing ef­fort­lessly through the gears and tak­ing Mid­dle­ton to the sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone of one hun­dred when Stu­art claimed his sec­ond wicket. A pull from Grant looked like it was head­ing over the ropes for six when Chi­appe took a good catch.

There was no time to set­tle for the new Moon­raker bat, Zain Tahir, and he was soon in the thick of the ac­tion. With 20 overs re­main­ing and 50 re­quired Shaw knew they had to bowl out Mid­dle­ton.

Walker knew he had to time the run chase to per­fec­tion. Be­tween them Ge­orge and Zain hit eleven bound­aries on their way to vic­tory.

On Sun­day, Mid­dle­ton en­ter­tained Old­ham at Town­croft with Rashid Hussain tak­ing the cap­taincy reins for the fifth sea­son at the Pol­lards.

Bat­ting first, the Mid­dle­ton bowlers re­stricted Old­ham to 45 with the wick­ets spread.

The win­ning runs were hit for the loss of two wick­ets and it was good to see young­sters Le Car­pen­tier and Cal­laghan get­ting a run out in the first team.

Steve Allen

Mid­dle­ton’s Grant Jones in ac­tion

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