Harmison the key to Ashington victory

Cricket stumps.
Cricket stumps.

South Shields 144 all out; Ashington 145-7

Ashington maintained their 100 per cent record and went to the top of the NE Premier League’s first division on Saturday after a batting master class from Ben Harmison had steered them to victory over South Shields.

The 33 year-old stole the show hitting an unflappable and cultured 87 from 126 deliveries. And on his seasonal debut, Harmison came through a testing time with flying colours after the home side had made a dreadful start in pursuit of the Mariners’ 144.

In the third over, Adam Nichol was trapped lbw then next ball, Jack McCarthy lost his off stump. Harmison successfully negotiated the hat-trick delivery from Chris Stewart but when Jack Jessop tried to pull a short ball and dragged it onto his stumps then skipper Sean McCafferty went in identical fashion to McCarthy, the Mighty Acorns were looking at a sorry scoreboard which read 19-4.

The pacy Stewart – bowling down the bank – had figures of 4-7 from five overs and the right armer threatened to wreak total havoc in the Ashington ranks. Only that’s when Harmison stepped forward. The left hander was coolness personified as he staved off the visitors dominance,

Teenage debutant Adam Gardiner initially gave support in a stand worth 40 before he fell leg before. Mo Shinwari grafted equally hard in a similar partnership with Harmison completing his half century in the 30th over. Three overs later when Shinwari fell lbw to Sam Embleton, the Colliers were still 42 runs adrift of their target but Harmison found a rock at the opposite end in Callum Storey. The pair had added 38 and appeared to be taking the Colliers over the line - when Harmison eventually succumbed, caught for 87.

The dismissal brought Storey and Ian Sharkey together – the pair who had clinched victory for Ashington on their opening day win over Boldon – and two balls later, the latter clipped the ball through mid wicket to the ropes to put the seal on a third successive victory.

Earlier in the afternoon session, the home side had been forced to claw their way back into the contest after the Shields openers had given their side a solid platform. Elliott and Ben Scott put on 40 for the first wicket, but after Sharkey had made the breakthrough, the tables turned and Shields slumped to 52-4.

Christopher Rainbow and Embleton knocked Ashington out of their stride,but Shinwari struck at the double, bowling Embleton for ten then two balls later having Liam Dixon lbw. Paul Rutherford then accounted for Jack Hutchinson on 94 and Callum Storey bowled Rainbow for 33.

Stewart hit an unbeaten 23 and after Storey had had Adam May caught by Jessop, McCarthy brought the curtain down on the innings, running out last man Joshua Leslie.