‘Sheep’ inspires Ashington in final

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Sean McCafferty was Ashington’s inspiration as they retained the League Cup with a 38 runs victory over Percy Main at the St John’s Green ground on Friday night.

McCafferty – nicknamed Sheep – took on the bowlers

and changed the course of this game completely after the Colliers top order crumbled and they were at one stage reeling at 84-7 before closing on 130-9. McCafferty hit big – with four sixes and three fours included in a powerful knock of 77 from only 51 deliveries – batting with calmness, assurance and authority.

Ashington’s bowlers then performed superbly as they restricted the home side to 92-9 from their 20 overs. Both sides had advanced into the showpiece encounter after exciting clashes in their semi-final ties.

Ashington defeated Ryton with the win being secured in the final over while the Percy Main v Annfield Plain clash proved to be an even closer affair.

With the scores tied, the Villagers got through after losing one wicket less than their opponents.

In bright sunshine and on a picturesque-looking ground, Mighty Acorns skipper Ben Harmison lost the toss with his side invited to take first strike.

Things certainly did not go according to plan for the Colliers as they lost both openers Jack Jessop and Ben O’Brien inside the first five overs.

McCafferty and Ben Harmison added 23 but the fall of the latter in the eighth over, after he got a leading edge to a ball which popped from Michael Phillips, proved significant as Ashington lost their next four wickets for only 31 runs.

James Harmison departed after a stunning catch just inside the boundary by Philip Cramman and Ian Sharkey staved off the hat-trick ball after left-arm spinner Will Taylor had removed Josh Robinson and Matty Potts in consecutive deliveries almost single-handedly,

McCafferty boosted the visitors’ total and was only bowled by Amit Sunda in the final over. Mark Armstrong, Phillips and Sunda all took two wickets each with Will Taylor claiming 3-33.

Ashington needed a good start and they duly got it with Phillips lofting the fourth ball of the innings from left-arm spinner Paul Rutherford straight down McCafferty’s throat on the long-off boundary.

The Harmison brothers combined to send back Taylor, James pocketing a high offering off Ben’s bowling then Matty Collins had Cramman magnificently caught low down behind the stumps by the diving Jack McCarthy and two balls later Collins bowled Anderson for 16.

With the asking rate creeping up, the Villagers lost further wickets until Jamie Stanistreet (32) and Lawrie Robson (10) added 28.

With 44 required from the final six deliveries, victory was already assured for the Colliers.

But from the second ball of the last over, Stanistreet was stumped by McCarthy off bowling of Ben O’Brien then Robson was run out from the final ball.

Afterwards, league secretary Paul Lee presented the cup to a delighted Ashington skipper Ben Harmison.