Walker inspires Middleton to top
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.
Middleton’s Grant Jones in action