Ashington’s ageless left arm spinner Paul Rutherford turned out to be an unlikely hero with the bat on Saturday as the Colliers triumphed by two wickets in a nerve jangling contest against Lanchester in humid conditions at Langwell Crescent.
And afterwards Rutherford, who on the day also returned bowling figures of 4-28, revealed that his unbeaten 13 from 16 balls was one of the best batting performances of his career.
Rutherford had celebrated his 44th birthday two days beforehand, and although there were no candles on his celebration cake, his all round contribution certainly helped to extinguish Lanchester’s hopes of victory – and he smashed the winning boundary into the bargain.
Rutherford, an assistant site manager at a school in Bedlington who figured in an unbroken stand of 35 for the ninth wicket with Anirudh Singh, said: “I reckon this was one of my best knocks with the bat because of the importance of the situation for the team.
“There were a few nerves but I’m pleased we won and got ourselves out of a sticky situation because Lanchester are a decent side.
“It was just a case of hanging in there with Ani (Singh) and tying an end down whilst making sure he got most of the strike.
“But I also told Ani that with the field up, if the ball was there to be hit, I’d hit it, and that’s what I managed to do a couple of times, and especially for the winning runs.”
He continued: “It was nice to get the boundary which clinched the game, but it was relief more than anything else because it was all about the team which mattered.
“Also it would have been a shame for Ani if he had not been on the winning side. He hit 84 out of 137, which was a top effort.”
Rutherford had been amongst the wickets earlier in the afternoon, even if by his own admission he was not 100 per cent fit.
“Over the past couple of weeks I don’t think I have bowled my best,” he said.
“It was nice to get the four wickets, aided by some good catches, but I have got a bit of a twinge in my back and I cannot get through my bowling action, so I am dropping a lot of deliveries short.
“Despite that, I’m happy. We are performing well, are at the right end of the table and have just got the second half of our league programme off to a winning start.”