Last season had Methlick up against St Ronald’s 1st team in some high scoring and hugely entertaining fixtures.
The second team, newly promoted from Grade 3, was an unknown prospect and the visit to Lairds coincided with a strengthened batting and bowling line up with the return of Aussie, Adrian Saward.
Conditions were blustery, overcast and threatened rain and were ideal for putting the opposition in, getting them out and heading to the Ythan View.
The toss lost, MCC were put in to bat. Straight away the bowlers were finding swing and bounce and it looked a bad day for batting. With the score on 4 skipper Anderson gloved a lifter to the keeper and was back in the hut.
Woodhouse and Saward hung on grimly until eventually Saward started acclimatizing himself to the pitch and spanked a couple of cover drives to the boundary.
With scoring becoming easier Woodhouse, over-confidently, drove at an over pitched ball and picked out mid-on. 2 down for 38. Murphy joined Saward to hint at an explosive partnership but S Ali and Dheeraj, using the bowler friendly conditions to their advantage, kept the scoring to below 4 an over. Just as Saward seemed destined for another 50, he was dismissed by a sharp catch close in off S Ali for 41. Addison, short of practice, only lasted 3 balls and suddenly a promising start had turned into 86 for 4.
Promoted in the batting order Brian Anderson, usually worth a few from a 10 ball thrash, was instructed to play like a proper batsman and did this to great effect helping Murphy along and easing the scoreboard past 100 from 30 overs. Murphy was finally caught in the deep for 37 with the scoreboard on “Nelsons” (111).
Maxfield was bowled after facing 12 balls, and Anderson finally went LBW to Bhatti for 25 from 46 circumspect balls. Bremenesen and Buchan saw the overs out and with the score on 143 for 7 after 46 overs, Methlick were probably 25 shy of a good score. Given the conditions, however, this probably equated to 170.
After tea Murphy opened from the Beaton Hall end and struggled to control a wildly swinging ball and most of St Ronald’s initial scoring came from wides.
A reduction in pace then had the batsmen struggling to come to terms with the swing and bounce and movement off the seam.
At the River End, Saward was bowling a fine line and length preventing the batsmen from scoring and it was a rising ball that took the glove of Hammad through to the keeper for the first wicket on 21.
Three runs and 6 overs later saw Saward’s second wicket, quickly followed by his 3rd in the 16th over with the score on 28. Only Imran seemed to be able to come to terms with the conditions.
Maxfield came on to replace Murphy and in his second over Ahmad top edged to the agile keeper for his first wicket for MCC. St Ronald’s were by now falling behind on the run-rate with only 40 on the board for the loss of 4 wickets.
Saward bowled through his 12 overs with figures of 3 for only 13 runs, finally being replaced by James Buchan.
A desperate defence saw St. Ronald’s consolidate their position until after 30 overs, Addison replacing Maxfield, eventually removed Imran for 35. 3 overs later and the visitors appeared dead and buried as Buchan took the 6th wicket, with St. Ronald’s still 63 runs behind.
A seventh wicket went down as A Roa was run out. S Ali was starting to look dangerous as he began to find the boundary, but with 5 overs to go an apparently insurmountable 42 was still required.
Buchan then bowled A Ali in the 42nd, leaving 24 required off the last 2 overs.
Addison was then spanked for 11 in the penultimate over leaving 13 to win off the last.
The first 5 balls went for 8, but a maximum to win the game off the last ball was too much for St. Ronald’s, and suicidal running saw the 9th wicket go down to a run-out.
So the game ended up a draw, but a more exciting finish could not have been anticipated considering the earlier sluggish batting.
Another tough encounter at Lairds next week sees Cults/Artisans as visitors and Methlick will be looking at maximum points to move towards the top of the table. Sunday also sees the first round of the Bon Accord Cup at Lairds against local rivals Inverurie.