Ben O’Brien picked up an early birthday present at Langwell Crescent on Saturday as his match-winning knock steered Ashington to victory in a thrilling last over win against Shotley Bridge.
The trainee chartered accountant, who celebrates his 26th birthday this coming week, smashed an unbeaten 56 - his third half century this season - after pocketing three catches earlier in the afternoon.
He said: “I thought we were fantastic in the field in the first half to keep Shotley to 158-9, especially as we were without our opening bowlers Callum Storey and Peter Finch.
“The lads did really well and Matty Storey, who took four wickets, was excellent.”
O’Brien pointed to his latest innings as being the pick of the bunch.
“This was the best 50 of the season in my eyes because it was a match-winning innings,” he added.
“Although we started off well, we got into a little bit of a hole and it’s quite difficult coming in, certainly I had to concentrate pretty hard today.”
O’Brien clinched victory in spectacular fashion with a six from the first ball of the last over.
He said: “To be honest, I thought I had picked the guy out and hit the ball right down his throat on the boundary.
“I had my heart in my mouth because I had hit one there previously which bounced just inside the line and I thought he was going to catch it, but to see it go over the rope was just great.”
Matty Storey could not conceal his delight either.
The 23-year-old said: “As a part-time bowler and having taken 4-34, I was chuffed to bits.
“I thought I might have a spell of perhaps four or five overs just to fill the gap, but the wicket suited slower bowlers and I think I got the most out of the pitch.”
Storey went to the crease at a tense time with the Colliers requiring nine runs to win from eight deliveries, but instantly eased the pressure valve as he despatched it through the off side.
“The first ball was pitched up and I just whacked it over extra cover for four,” he said.
“It was great to play a part in the win and now I cannot wait for next week.
“I’m available for the next month or so and these are happy days.”