Ashington 233-6 Lanchester 184 all out
Ben Harmison struck a magnificent unbeaten century as Ashington returned to winning ways with a 49-run victory over Lanchester on Saturday, writes Brian Bennett.
It was Harmison’s first hundred – and also the first occasion this season when an Ashington batsman has reached three figures – and came at a crucial stage of the game at Ashley Park.
The tall left-hander went to the crease in the 17th over with his side in deep trouble at 41-3 and, after a brief stand of 21 with Jack Jessop (32), it was his partnership with skipper Sean McCafferty which was pivotal.
The pair added 137 for the fifth wicket, McCafferty’s share being 44 before he was caught by Crooks off Taylor in the 45th over.
In the closing stages, Harmison continued to flay the home attack and after reaching his ‘ton’ from 98 deliveries, ended unbeaten on 130 – an innings which included 18 boundaries and three sixes.
His powerful and classy knock steered his side to 233-6 before rain forced the players off and curtailed the innings by two overs.
Lanchester made a good start through Mark Small and Jonathan Green but when Matty Collins had the former lbw in the 11th over, it was the start of a mini-collapse as the home side went from 46-0 to 53-4.
Collins bowled Graham Brinton for nought while Paul Rutherford claimed the wickets of Green and Daniel Storey. Sam Crooks and Greg Halliday made a fist of things with a determined stand of 59 before Harmison came into the attack and had Crooks caught behind by wicketkeeper Dan Grant for 31.
Bryan Potts fell to a spectacular catch on the boundary by Collins and was the first of four wickets for Ian Sharkey who also claimed Halliday for 51 and was on a hat-trick after Kieron Taylor was stumped by Grant first ball.
From the third ball of the final over, Ashington secured maximum points when last man Stuart McPhail was bowled by O’Brien on 184, leaving non-striker Callum Barnes unbeaten on 35.
Following victories for Consett, Swalwell and Shotley Bridge, the head of the division remained unchanged. However, with two games of the season left, Consett and Swalwell are joint top on 468 points followed by Shotley Bridge on 433 and Ashington on 426.
*On Saturday, Ashington are at home to Shotley Bridge.