Ashington Cricket Club’s first XI vice-captain Ben O’Brien said he was proud of his team after they completed a maximum points victory over league leaders Swalwell on Saturday.
O’Brien – stepping up to the role of skipper with Ben Harmison switching sports to play football for Ashington FC – certainly led by example.
His 61 was the undoubted feature and key contribution as he held the home innings together and led them to a total of 146-7 in a game reduced to 30 overs.
His on-fire bowlers, led superbly by Matty Collins, then put the skids under Swalwell, bowling them out for 81 in the 23rd over.
A beaming O’Brien said afterwards: “It was a great achievement and I was proud of the lads, hopefully that’s something we can build on for the rest of the season and finish really strong.
“We just look to win every week and have realistically set our sights on trying to finish in runners-up spot, with anything else a bonus.”
The Newcastle-born right hander had initially been disappointed after the spin of the coin.
“I thought it would be a big toss to win so I was upset when I lost it,” he said.
“There was some heavy rain in the morning but credit to our groundsman Mick Brown who protected the pitch and it played really well in our innings.
“We got off to a good start through Daniel Grant and Neil Wood, and didn’t lose a wicket until 12 overs in, which was a nice change from a few weeks ago.
“It gave us a bit of a platform, and when I went in I just tried to get myself set, play a few overs to get my eye in then after that to try and take on the bowlers.
“I got a bit of support from the lads coming in like Matty Storey, who batted well.”
The 28-year-old added: “Before the start I said that if we were 50-0 off 15 overs then we would have a good chance of getting around the 150 mark, which should be a competitive score in 30 overs.
“We got 146, which I thought was a defendable score, and I was quite glad with that.
“Swalwell have some big players and run scorers at the top of the order, including Chris Hewison and Lloyd Anderson, so I knew we would have to be right on the money at the start.
“Early wickets were going to be crucial and full credit to Matty Collins who bowled a cracking spell.
“He delivered seven overs up the hill, got all the top wickets and was fantastic.
“Callum Storey also bowled well, Paul Rutherford came on and bowled a tight stint as usual as well as picking up important wickets, then Ian Sharkey gave nothing away and took the last wicket.”
Ulgham-based O’Brien went on: “I had to think about which bowlers were going to operate from the Ashbourne Crescent end with the short boundary, and I opted for Sharkey and Collins.
“We also needed one other over from someone, so I brought Callum Storey on, but in the end it didn’t matter because we didn’t need to bowl all of our overs.
“We were good in the field where we took a few good catches, which was good to see, and to do that against Swalwell, the champions-elect at moment, was a really top effort.
“To put in a performance like we did against probably the best team in the league whilst also being without Ben Harmison and a professional was terrific.”