Ashington Cricket Club’s inspirational skipper Ben Harmison said that ‘everything is still to play for’ after the Mighty Acorns had put back to back victories over Alnmouth & Lesbury at the weekend.
Harmison said: “It’s strange because with half the season gone, I feel we are in third gear and have still to play our best. Hopefully the penny will drop and we will all start firing as a unit. We are third and it’s a funny thing being at the top of the league because you are always looking over your shoulder and the pressure gets to you at the end.
“Over the next few weeks the top sides play each other and we have got to face them so although we are over 40 points behind the leaders, it’s still all to play for.”
It was the Ashington skipper who led by example after the double header over the coastal village side, taking a five wickets haul in the first contest and playing a crucial role with the bat in the second.
At Alnmouth on Sunday, Ashington appeared to be coasting to victory as they chased down the home sides all out total of 138. At 46 without loss after ten overs, a double turning point arrived when Alnmouth skipper Tom Vickers introduced spinners Dushan Hemantha and Paul Straker. The former broke through having Jack Jessop caught behind by Vickers then Jack McCarthy ballooned a return catch to bowler Straker from only his second delivery.
Matty Storey struck two boundaries but then spooned a ball from Straker to Hemantha at point and when O’Brien and McCafferty fell in quick succession to Hemantha, Ashington had slipped to 90-5.
The Harmison brothers, Ben and James were forced to graft hard for runs and the pair had put on 21 when the latter was bowled by Denton in the 35th. Ian Sharkey stretched at a delivery from Brunton but put the ball straight down Straker’s throat at point and when Hemantha returned from the pavilion end to bowl his final over, he shattered the stumps of Paul Rutherford with 11 still required for victory.
On 130, Matty Collins must have thought he had got off the mark but looked on in astonishment as his lofted on-drive saw Nicholas Robertson take an outstanding one handed catch. The ground was gripped with unbearable tension as last man Chris Dunn joined Harmison - who had looked unflappable. The skipper edged his side ever closer to the target and after the scores were tied, it was Dunn who hit the winning run from the second ball of the 45th over with a push into the off side.
Alnmouth’s Hemantha was on top form claiming 4-27 from 12 overs, his only downfall being a succession of no-balls. Earlier in the day, Callum Batey had hit a top scoring 57 and Archie Elder 36 as the pair added 71 for the third wicket. Paul Rutherford then took a leading role as he claimed a five wicket haul, the highlight being a magnificent one handed catch off his own bowling to send back Vickers. Matty Collins also chipped in with three wickets for 18 with Ben Harmison and Ben O’Brien taking one each as the home side were all out in the final over.
*24 hours earlier, a partnership worth 59 between Ben O’Brien had James Harmison had steadied the ship and enabled the Colliers to post 187. O’Brien hit seven fours and two sixes in 71 whilst Harmison scored 23.
In reply, Ashington had Alnmouth on 52-5 before Vickers (22) and Brunton (27) added 45. The Langwell Crescent side completed victory by a 72 runs margin with skipper Ben Harmison starring with the ball as he took 5-26 from 10.2 overs.
*On Saturday, Ashington travel to meet Consett.