The 2016 season just gets better and better for Ashington Cricket Club’s first XI.
On Saturday the Langwell Crescent outfit, who have led the Go North East Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League since the opening day of the campaign, collected their 13th victory of the campaign to lead the table by 46 points and smashed their previous highest total as they piled on the runs against Annfield Plain at Enterprise Park.
In 2004 the Colliers hit 333 in a match at Sacriston, but last weekend they broke through the 400 barrier with some phenomenal big hitting, taking 156 from the final ten overs to close on 415-6.
Although runs flowed right the way through the batting order, with 18 sixes in the innings, no Ashington player completed a century.
After winning the toss, Colliers’ stand-in skipper Ben O’Brien elected to bat and his decision was vindicated as Neil Wood and Ani Singh began at a cracking pace.
The pair had 54 on the board inside 11 overs when the latter played on to the fourth ball of the over from Christopher Graham.
Wood went in the next, caught by David Maughan off Michael Hawdon for 28, but the first of two century partnerships was to begin as O’Brien partnered Jack Jessop.
The latter reached his 50 by lofting a full toss for six over long-on, then shortly afterwards, O’Brien followed suit with a four through the leg side.
In the 31st over, O’Brien holed out in the deep for 65, then Jessop, who had been strong off his legs, clipped a delivery from Lewis Donnelly straight to Sam Blake at mid-wicket, eight runs short of a century.
Ben Harmison, who had quietly moved on to 44, was bowled by Donnelly before the fireworks really began as Sean McCafferty struck an explosive and quite outstanding 31-ball knock of 73 in only 38 minutes, which included five fours and seven sixes.
The ex-Bedlington man, who brought the 300 up in the 45th with a straight six, then repeated the dose two overs later which took Ashington to 335 and created a new record.
Another six saw McCafferty reach his 50, but he finally succumbed to a terrific catch by Graham Carr in the penultimate over for 73.
However, enter James Harmison, who finished the over off by taking 20 runs from four balls, including three successive sixes.
The final six deliveries yielded a further 21 runs. Daniel Grant taking his side through the 400 mark with a four over extra cover, then Harmison smashed the last ball of the innings over the ropes to end unbeaten on 28 from only eight deliveries.
Harmison also made an impact when the home side replied. He had Sam Stephenson caught by O’Brien at point then accounted for Shane Oliver, caught by Paul Rutherford at short mid-off, and Maughan, pouched by Ian Sharkey from a slower ball).
However, Ashington were forced to be patient as Carr and home skipper David Newstead forged a partnership worth 77 until both fell in quick succession to Rutherford and Sharkey respectively.
Although Harmison picked up his fourth wicket of the innings and Singh his first, Hawdon (18 not out) and Daniel Keegan (15 not out) took their side through to stumps with an unbroken stand of 33, which gave Annfield a fifth batting point.
On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Newcastle City.
Annfield Plain 8 points
Ashington 18 points