Welsh Club Cricket Conference Division 2

WITH Llanarth having already secured the league’s runners-up silverware, the Trees visited third placed Radyr keen to finish the season on a high in their final league fixture of 2015.

Rain during the week had hampered ground preparation and a wicket of rolled wet mud with a long, grassy outfield was to be the canvas on which the match was to be played out. Dennis Heath lost another vital toss and Llanarth were inserted on a track that proved to be slow with subterranean bounce.

Tom Vaughan was promoted to open with Mark Baxter and the batsmen soon found that the long grass made it extremely difficult to pierce the fielding circle. With survival tough and run scoring at a premium, Baxter needed no second invitation to dig in for the long haul.

Vaughan fell first, caught and bowled when driving at a ball that stopped on him, and Chris Powell departed too. Llanarth took drinks with much to think about, at a pedestrian 37-2.

As the Trees continued to have some fun with their batting order, Peter Sullivan’s (4-9) inswing ripped through the middle order as the innings slumped to 54-6. Even specialist batsmen D.Heath and David Nowell faired no better, and when Ed James departed at 79-9 Baxter’s regular opening partner David Lomax, batting at number 11, walked out to join him. Together the pair put on an unbroken 25, the highest partnership of the innings, to take the innings total to 104-9.

Baxter’s ’batting on a sticky dog’ master-class, combining precise technique with trance-like concentration, concluded at the tea interval on 52 not out from 104 balls, with Lomax (10 not out) the only other batsman to reach double figures.

After tea, Llanarth were perhaps expecting wickets, but the Radyr openers batted with great care and good sense reaching 45 from 14 overs before Tom Heath (3-18) removed David Tame (23) who attempted the aerial route once too often. Radyr’s captain, Simon Walters, and opener Andrew Steadman (20) then progressed the score further to 62-1 until the match turned dramatically either side of the drinks break.

With the last ball before squash, T.Heath found a beauty to ping the top of Walters’ off-stump, and in the first over after the resumption Chris Powell won an lbw decision against Steadman, and the Trees now had two new batsmen to work with.

On a wicket offering him assistance, Powell then turned the game on it’s head as the hosts middle and lower order found him unplayable, he claimed four more victims by spinning the ball back through gates of varying widths to disturb the timbers and finished with outstanding figures of 5 for 7 from his 9 overs.

Eian Johnson claimed the wicket of the dangerous Gwyn Morris via an excellent catch by Lomax and when T.Heath administered the last rites by knocking over middle stump, Radyr had lost 9 wickets for 15 runs, collapsing to 77 all out, giving the Trees victory by 27 runs, a fitting end to another excellent season.