Sunday, 11 August 2019

Battling Horspath are pipped in last-ball drama

Tom Coleman top-scored with 67. Picture: Stuart Cardy
HORSPATH remain deep in Home Counties Premier League Division 1 relegation trouble following a two-wicket defeat at home to Buckingham Town in a last-ball thriller.

Having been put in to bat on a very windy day, the hosts posted 203 all out from their allotted 58 overs, which were reduced due to three rain breaks. Openers Dominic O'Connor and Robbie Eason took the score to 20 when the latter was given out stumped by Oxfordshire captain Jonny Cater off George Humphries for two.

A top-order collapse has hampered Horspath often this season, but O'Connor and Tom Coleman dispelled fears of any such occurrence on this occasion with an assured display of batting. O'Connor, who was particularly strong off his legs, reached his second half-century of the campaign with a single down to square leg off Buckingham skipper Jack Parish in the 28th over.

He was soon followed to fifty by Coleman, who brought up his half-century by sweeping ambidextrous Sri Lankan Tharindu Rathnayaka, who bowled both left and right-arm spin, for four. The pair had put on 99 for the second wicket when O'Connor was caught at slip by Ashley Pearson off Rathnayaka for 56 off 106 balls, which contained 12 fours.

Coleman was then joined by Tom Cosford as Horspath reached lunch at 129-2. On the resumption, Cosford hadn't added to his nine runs when he was bowled by left-arm spinner Jack Deal, who made it two wickets in as many balls by trapping Stephen Green lbw playing no shot to make it 130-4.

Following two brief breaks for rain, Coleman and Kyle Hopper took the score on to 147 when the latter was caught at point by Deal off Rathnayaka for 12. Horspath then lost two wickets off consecutive deliveries for the second time in the innings to make it 170-7.

Coleman's excellent knock ended when he was lbw to Rathnayaka for 67 from 107 balls, which included eight fours, before skipper Will Eason was caught at first slip by Pearson, driving at his first ball from the Sri Lankan.

Eight runs had been added following a third rain break when Will Robertson was caught by Russell White to become Rathnayaka's fifth victim. But Will Hawtin propelled Horspath to their final total with some lusty blows, taking the score to 203 with Lloyd Belcher, before the latter was caught by Humphries off Deal from the penultimate ball of the innings.

It was to be the precursor to the third time Horspath would lose wickets off consecutive deliveries in the innings with Liam Manley becoming the latest to record a golden duck when he was caught and bowled by Deal off the last ball. Hawtin finished unbeaten on 41 from 37 balls, which included two fours and three sixes, while Rathnayaka returned figures of 5-46 from 22 overs and Deal picked up 4-59 off 13 overs. 

Robertson made the breakthrough in Buckingham's innings - which was reduced to a minimum of 50 overs - when be bowled Steven Brunning with one that kept low for two with 17 on the board. Hopper then produced a brilliant run out from point to send Mark Hulbert back to the pavilion and make it 27-2. 

Belcher's introduction into the attack provided Horspath's next success with opener Leigh Tomlinson caught at short leg by Green for 39 to leave Buckingham 61-3. Two runs later, Hopper claimed his second run out with Adam King perishing for 11 following a mix-up with Cater, and Horspath were celebrating again when Belcher bowled Pearson to make it 70-5.

Cater and Rathnayaka added four runs before tea, and after the interval proceeded to frustrate the home side with a stand of 74 for the sixth wicket before the Sri Lankan left-hander became Belcher's third victim when he was caught by Hopper at long on in front of the cycle speedway track for 30 after the ball held up in the wind. Will Eason then won an lbw appeal against Parish to make it 156-7.

Horspath had bowled their overs at a good rate and in a bid to force a much-needed victory, they had five more than the minimum quota before the close only for Cater and Deal to put on 46 for the eighth wicket. The Oxfordshire captain went to his fifty with a single off Eason, before Deal came down the wicket to Robertson in an attempt to hit the winning boundary and was bowled for 22 to make it 200-8 in the 53rd over.

Buckingham still required two to win off the final over, and with Robertson keeping it tight it came down to the last ball when, with the scores level, Cater hit a four through mid-wicket to see the visitors home at 207-8. The Oxfordshire skipper finished on 73 not out from 90 balls, which contained six fours and a six. 

Belcher's 3-55 from 19 overs took his tally for the campaign to 35 and kept him top of the Division 1 wicket-takers, while Robertson (2-25) and Eason (1-24) were the other successful bowlers.

Despite the loss, Horspath moved off the bottom with Slough being hammered at Aston Rowant, but are still 13 points adrift of eighth-placed Tring Park.

Posted by: Russ