ASHINGTON got back on track with an exciting victory by four wickets over Benwell & Walbottle at Langwell Crescent on Saturday.
Following the horrendous weather 48 hours beforehand, it was incredible the match even started – but hours of arduous labour from Steve Nichol and Michael Levison was rewarded when the whole game – reduced to 45 overs per side – was completed.
The visitors posted an honourable score of 197-7 with professional Hassan Raza completing a fine unbeaten century just before the close of the innings.
Benwell took first strike but after a steady start lost three wickets in as many overs.
Skipper Greg Williams, coming on as first change, broke through in the 17th over, trapping David Anderson leg before, then after Graeme Robbie had fallen in identical fashion to Callum Storey, Williams held a return catch from Smith leaving Benwell 42-3.
That became 76-4 when Williams took a wonder catch, again off his own bowling, to remove the dangerous looking Stephen Reed shortly after the half way stage.
Then Raza took over. The left hander completed his half century in the 33rd over and reached three figures in the penultimate over, an innings which included ten fours and six sixes before finishing on 106.
He dominated a fifth wicket partnership of 78 with Michael Birrell (10) and 35 with Lewis Birrell, with Williams the most successful bowler taking 3-64 from 11 overs.
Ashington lost Andrew Gray in the fourth over, caught at slip by Michael Brown off Scott Nolan for a single, but Neil Wood and Simon Prudhoe, pictured, chipped away at the target without taking any risks.
Wood eventually succumbed by the most unlikeliest of stumpings as he stepped out of his crease believing the ball had gone past wicketkeeper Smith who had in fact collected and immediately whipped the bails off.
That reverse ended a 54-run stand with Prudhoe, who reached his 50 in the 30th over, a couple of deliveries after Scott Dunn had skied a return catch to Reed.
The Colliers wanted a run a ball in the final 15 overs and they also lost Daniel Grant who fell lbw to Reed in the 32nd over.
But experienced campaigners Prudhoe and Williams knuckled down with some excellent running between the wickets and picking up precious runs into the bargain.
Nevertheless, with the overs ticking by, the rate increased even further with 55 wanted from the last six.
Naz Rashid replaced Reed at the Ashbourne Crescent end and Prudhoe hit his first delivery into the pond for a straight six.
Nine an over was whittled down to requiring 21 from the last three, then anchorman Prudhoe, having smashed seven boundaries and two sixes in a majestic 83, being particularly severe on anything pitched short, was caught at deep extra cover by Robbie off Lewis Birrell.
If that was a significant turning point, then in the 44th, with 17 needed, Williams clouted a six then took two runs from the first two balls before on 44, he middled a ball from Nolan – which went straight down Raza’s throat on the mid-wicket boundary.
Graham Whitworth eased the pressure with a four from his first ball and with two further singles from the final two deliveries, Ashington entered the last over requiring three to win.
Sandwiched between dot balls, Adam Nichol and Whitworth both took singles before Nichol got the winning run from the penultimate delivery which clinched a terrific victory from a marvellous game of cricket.
Ashington 18 points
Benwell & Walbottle 7 points
Match Sponsor: Ashington RAOB Club
On Saturday, Ashington begin the second half of the season with a trip to Gosforth where they take on Newcastle City.