Saturday saw a change in conditions following a day of rain and the wicket was expected to come to life as brown grass started to turn green and there was a softening of the surface, so it was a difficult decision for both captains in deciding whether to bat or bowl. Methlick were looking to get revenge for an earlier season defeat at Groat’s Road and continue their climb up the Grade 2 table.

MCC skipper Duffy decided to bat and debutant opening bowler, Alam, proved to be a real handful with plenty of pace making the ball leap off the wicket, no doubt assisted by the fact that he was actually chucking the ball. Alasdair Smith found the going too tough and edged Alam for a fine catch to the visiting wicket-keeper for a duck.

Mark Woodhouse and Connor Shorten realised that they needed to see off the bowling threat and dug in. The tactic was looking to pay off until Woodhouse got one that climbed and edged to slip for the second wicket, but at least they had survived the majority of Alam’s overs.

Shorten and Jamie Jones both hung around but couldn’t push on the scoring and when the third wicket fell for 27, Methlick looked to be having problems. Some big hits from Addison and lots of wides from the visiting bowlers kept the home side in the game, but the openers had now finished their respective spells and Addison and Steve Shorten, the second member of the Shorten family to be making his debut, could start attacking.

Addison put on 24 and Shorten 14 before they two lost their wickets. Paul Macdonald was batting with confidence but was running out of partners as Duffy, Brian Anderson and Alan Hill departed quickly. Methlick found themselves on 119 with only one wicket left, way short of what was expected to be a par score.

The wides continued and Deni Sarafimowski quickly started to build his confidence with liberal use of the edge of his bat and together with Macdonald the two started to play some exciting cricket with some quick running between the stumps. 150 came up and Methlick at least had a target to bowl at, but the two batsmen weren’t finished. The boundaries had dried up but a combination of singles and wides finally gave the home side a total of 167 when Macdonald was finally out for 34 to complete a record for a Methlick last-wicket partnership. The final total was significantly helped by the visitors bowling a total of 41 wides.

Knight Rider’s response was going to be interesting given the amount of movement off the wicket and Methlick got off to a flyer with Steve Shorten taking a wicket with his third ball. Duffy then struck in his second over to leave the visitors reeling on 2 for 3. However, Knight Rider’s best batsman, Vallathimarasu, looked dangerous from the outset.

The two bowlers kept the runs to a minimum, with Duffy’s first 4 overs being maidens, but it was necessary to hold themselves back as the earlier fixture had produced runs late on in the innings. Addison replaced Shorten and as always kept a tight end. Alan Hill came on for Duffy and took the wicket of Viveranasan with the score on 31.

It was the introduction of Shorten Jnr that really shook the batting up. Opening with two maidens, his first three overs went for only one run and he struck in his fourth as he was really starting to find his length on an unfamiliar wicket. He quickly followed with two more wickets to rip out the middle order but, ominously, the dangerous number 3 continued to pile on the runs. Duffy came back on and it was captain fantastic who lured him into an expansive shot which towered into the sky and looked to be landing safe until the bowler took a glorious catch for a caught and bowled.

That seemed to be the end of proceedings with Knight Riders 7 wickets down for 81, still needing 87 off the last 14 overs, but this had happened in the earlier encounter in Aberdeen and the tail had seen them home from a precarious position. Sure enough, history was starting to repeat itself as Annamalai & Jaggavarapu started playing some exaggerated sweeps across the line and the score started to climb dramatically. Tensions rose as the partnership took the total past 130. Annamalai survived an LBW through an appalling decision by the umpire which only stoked the fires on both sides.

Addison returned to finally take the wicket of Annamalai, bowling him through the gate. But there was no let-up as 10th batsman, Nair, took his life in his hands and continued to score freely. Steve Shorten returned and with the score on 159 took the wicket of Jaggavarupu for 30.

So six was needed off the last over, and Methlick wanted one wicket. Two runs were taken off Shorten’s first ball followed by two singles, one being a suicidal run to Hill at mid-on, who fractionally missed the stumps at the bowlers end with the batsman nowhere in sight. One was needed to tie and last man, Reddy, hit the ball hard straight back to Shorten who couldn’t grasp the catch. The batsmen decided to run for it, taking on Hill once again, but this time a full length dive from the fielder had Reddy well short of safety and Methlick took the game by one run.

Connor Shorten had a good start to his Methlick career with 3 for 28 and Duffy chipped in with two wickets and only 12 runs coming from his 10 overs. The victory put Methlick up to fourth place in the Grade and they will look to strengthen their position with another home game against lowly Super Kings at Lairds next Saturday.

By Mark Woodhouse