It couldn’t get much better for Townies
CRICKET: Akhtar leads the way in another comfortable win at Bretton Gate
THEY could only be happier times at Bretton Gate if Kym Marsh was on bar duty and Heston Blumenthal offered to do the food.
Actually that’s not true as even the Town teas are the best in the Northants Premier Division these days.
Certainly it would be hard to improve on the field as a seventh straight win would suggest. Even the late withdrawal of ace batsman Asim Butt to a bout of food poisoning couldn’t throw Town off the title track as they sauntered to an easy eight-wicket win over Stony Stratford with over 50 overs to spare.
Even hard-to-please skipper Ajaz Akhtar , whose constant ear-splitting chatter has inevitably led to him being christined ‘the human vuvusela’, was impressed.
“We had a nightmare build-up with Asim falling ill,” Akhtar admitted.
“We changed the team-sheet three times, started with 10 men plus our aging manager in the field and ended up with a side including three under 18 year-olds and someone who only turned 18 last week.
“And yet we were again outstanding. There is a good vibe around the club at the moment.”
There certainly is and while Akhtar again delivered with the toss and the ball, the youngsters in the side also caught the eye.
Fifteen year-old Rob Sayer held two catches, including visiting dangerman Deon Ebrahim, and effected a run out with a direct hit from 30 yards before bowling his off-spin tidily.
Seventeen year-old Callum French, who is so posh he goes to school on Saturday mornings, left his lessons to replace Asim and promptly took a wicket with the first ball he had ever bowled at Premier Division level.
He took a second in the same over and added a third to finish with figures of 3-9 from 14 balls. One of his victims was caught by 18 year-old keeper Chris Milner who again had an outstanding day behind the stumps.
Akhtar definitely benefits from the presence of a sharp stumper capable of standing up to his swinging medium pacers. The captain bowled beautifully to return figures of 5-43 from 17 successive overs which included a smart stumping.
Stony were simply dreadful though limping along to 124 all-out before bowling the sort of dross which would have disgraced Bretton Park never mind Bretton Gate.
Karthik Sundaram replaced Butt as opener and smacked 44 off just 37 balls (nine fours), while David Clarke made an untroubled 46 (seven fours) before holing out to former Zimbabwean international Ebrahim’s stock ball, the long hop, with victory in sight.
Matthew Pateman thugged his way to 26 not out in no time, while 17 year-old Connor Cunningham faced just one ball, but hit it for four to improve his average to 132.
Town remain top and will make the trip to second-placed Finedon next Saturday (Finedon and thirdplaced Northampton Saints also enjoyed weekend wins) in good heart.
In contrast Stony’s players were not so happy, particularly the middle order man who was so upset at the decision which ended his innings, he picked up a spectator’s chair, announced he would pay for any damage, and then smashed it to pieces in the dressing room.