A batting master class from skipper Ben Harmison was the key focal point as Ashington bounced back from last weeks defeat at the hands of Tynedale, to clinch a 20 points maximum with a six wickets victory over Lanchester at Ashley Park on Saturday.
In pursuit of the home sides all out score of 226 - and shortly after the mid way point of their innings - the Colliers were on 93-4 when Harmison went to the wicket to join forces with vice captain Ben O’Brien. But with more than a run a ball required, the pair batted together superbly to whittle down the target before Harmison finished the game off in sensational style - and with more than four overs to spare - as he smacked three sixes from four deliveries.
The left hander ended unbeaten on a majestic 86 which included seven sixes and four fours. He reached his half century from 61 deliveries – then added 36 from the next eleven balls he received. O’Brien played his part too in an unbroken stand of 135 – with a disciplined knock of 43 from 62 balls (five fours and one six) whilst Sean McCafferty (34), Michael Levison (22) and Jack Jessop (21) also made telling contributions.
The defeat left Lanchester - and Graham Brinton in particular - shell shocked. Brinton who opened the innings, hit an excellent 128 (15 fours and three sixes) as the homesters, ended on 226.
They made an electrifying start with 33 runs on the board from the opening five overs and had advanced the total to 46 when Callum Storey – who was to take a six wicket haul - made the breakthrough having Mark Small caught behind by wicketkeeper Daniel Grant for 22. Harmison who brought himself into the attack and helped to stem the flow of runs, trapped Sam Crooks leg before at 88-2 then after Brinton had reached his half century,
Ian Sharkey struck the next blow, bowling Harry Lovell in the 28th. Harmison brought Storey back for the second spell and the move immediately paid dividends with Sharkey taking the catch at mid wicket to send back Greg Halliday. Kieron Taylor nicked behind to Grant then in the same over Jonny Green was yorked by Storey. Sandwiched in-between watching Callum Barnes and Daniel Storey both fall to left arm spinner Paul Rutherford, Brinton reached three figures. But his knock ended in the 47th when Harmison pouched a fine catch low down - then from the first ball of the 49th, Grant made a flying catch to his right to send back home skipper Stuart McPhail.
The latter dismissal took Callum Storey’s tally for the day up to six wickets for 67 runs from 11.1 overs. Brinton then made an early incision as with the last ball of the first over, he sent back Neil Wood via an lbw shout. Jessop, Levison and McCafferty all grafted hard and when the latter edged Barnes behind to Daniel Storey in the over after drinks, it signalled the start of what was to be the match winning combination with Harmison and O’Brien coming to the fore. *On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Lintz.