Final pairing in runs as seconds continue promotion challenge

AN under-strength Bates second XI hosted local rivals New Hartley at the Welfare on Saturday, looking for a win to keep up the promotion momentum.

Skipper Gibson won the toss and chose to bat, opening with young junior Mavin.

Both settled well as they progressed to 53 without loss in the 12th over.

Gibson was in great form, hitting seven boundaries and attacking the bowlers, particularly spinner Terry Young who was hit hard for a couple of lovely lofted drives.

Michael Young was the bowler who struck first, with Mavin desperately unlucky to see an inside edge hit the stumps.

The same bowler struck again two overs later, surprising Gibson with a short lifter which found the edge to first slip, the skipper departing for an entertaining 38.

From there wickets continued to fall, from 64-1 it became 100-9, as an incredible collapse saw Bates in real trouble.

What followed was remarkable as the final pairing, Tom Horn and Chris Thomas, proceeded to put on one of the most entertaining and unlikely partnerships ever seen at Bates Welfare for the last wicket.

A succession of boundaries sapped the life out of the Hartley attack, with Horn hitting three fours and three huge sixes, and Thomas chipping in with six boundaries of his own.

One of the sixes was hit so straight it smacked the sightscreen, and from a position of real trouble, Bates suddenly had maximum batting points.

Thomas was eventually out for 28, bowled by Burns, leaving Horn stranded on 35 not out.

Both batsmen had previously scored 14 runs between them this season at an average of two and one respectively.

With a healthy 166 to defend, Bates knew they needed a fast start, and despite some early hitting from Young, opening bowler Binns started the damage with two in two balls, removing danger man Young and wicket keeper Wilson in the same over.

Fellow opening bowler Gillott then joined in, with two clean bowled of his own, and Hartley were soon 45-6.

Enter Dan Jackson and Danny Gilchrist, with an unbelievable partnership of more than 90.

After hitting spinner Thomas out of the attack, Bates turned to young Joe Mavin, whose stump-to-stump accuracy removed Jackson, and then Binns took two in two balls once again to leave Bates with only one wicket to get and New Hartley 22 to win.

Sensing the need for urgency, Gilchrist went for one big hit too many and Thomas held the catch at mid-on off the bowling of Mavin.

The win puts the second XI into an automatic promotion spot for the first time this season.

On Saturday the seconds host fourth placed Ulgham Village.