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Maghera 2nds Mark Historic Day With Victory

The auspices were not good. A historic day for Maghera Cricket Club began with mist, dampness and a concerning weather forecast. The 2nd IX were due to take the field at 1pm in Killyclooney, for their first ever game, and fog lights on the Glenshane Pass shone out like beacons of doom. However, spirits were not depressed and as the descent began the clouds lifted, the sun shone brightly and hope was rewarded with perfect cricketing conditions.

For years Maghera Cricket Club had dreamed of fielding a 2nd IX, and it was now finally realised, thanks to the influx of lots of new, enthusiastic players. The team for the day consisted of a mix of old hands, others who had played cricket years before and a few young members. In total, five players made their full debut for Maghera, and all would make good contributions throughout the game.

Phil McClay had the honour of being captain for this first encounter, and duly lost the toss, with Maghera asked to field first. Although the wicket looked good and the outfield was mainly dry and hard, bowling first allowed the team to settle into the game, which was an ideal outcome. At this point, thanks should be given to the groundsmen at Killyclooney, who, despite long periods of inclement weather in pre-season, produced an excellent playing surface.

So began a well contested encounter. Sharma & McClay opened the bowling and did not give much away. It wasn’t long before the first wicket fell - Mehaffey caught & bowled by Sharma without scoring. The early wicket provided real belief for the visitors - they were up and running! However, the irrepressible Buchanan pounced on any wayward deliveries, and a number of fours propelled the Killyclooney total forwards. Taggert was shortly afterwards bowled by McClay but a good partnership between Buchanan and Armstrong developed, and Maghera were put under pressure. Showing good character in the field, even as the scoring rate rose, Baird snapped up the important wicket of Buchanan to wrest back control. With the new batsman, O’Neill, struggling to score, the run rate fell back. However, the wicket of Armstrong, quickly followed by Brace, brought the experienced Bresland to the crease, and he proceeded to hit some glorious shots. The introduction of Irvine into the attack resulted in Bresland hitting eighteen off Irvine’s first five balls, and things were quickly starting to look ominous - only for Bresland to fall off the final ball of the over. Two more wickets in successive balls in Irvine’s next over (with him narrowly missing out of a hat-trick with the first ball of his next over) ensured that the Killyclooney score remained within reach, at 147/9 for their 30 overs.

Following an excellent (as ever in Killyclooney) and very welcome tea, Sharma & Pratt opened the batting, with Sharma scoring the first run for the new IX in the second over. After three overs of accurate bowling from Bresland and O’Neill, the score was only two, but Sharma began to pounce on any short balls, dispatching them to the boundary, With Pratt batting stoically at the other end, picking up the odd boundary and running singles, the scoring rate never increased dramatically. However, in the ninth over, the experienced Bresland, who had been bowling miserly, bowled Sharma. This had the result of slowing the scoring, as McClay and Pratt batted without taking risks. A slightly controversial lbw ended McClay’s stay, and this brought Marshall Snr in for the first time. Presented with a few short balls, he was quickly up and running, with 4s and 6s coming in quick order. From being slightly behind the necessary rate, suddenly Maghera was ahead, and powering along. All the time, Pratt continued to bat without undue risk at the other end; the perfect foil for Marshall Snr’s aggression. Going for one big hit too many brought his downfall, but he had broken the back of the chase. It still required sensible batting to ensure the winning line was crossed, and losing two wickets in successive balls, the latter seeing Baird dropped and then run out off the same delivery, had the nerves jangling. Marshall Jnr, also in his first competitive game, scored a few important runs, and it was then left to Talbot and Pratt to finish the game off, Pratt scoring his 50 with a square cut four off his final ball, not having given a chance during his innings.

As the teams shook hands, large drops began to fall from a now threatening sky, and within moments there was a massive downpour, with everyone rushing for cover. No rain could have dampened the spirits of Maghera 2nd IX - having won at their first outing - and they deservedly enjoyed their success.

Credit must also be given to Killyclooney 3rd IX (well led, as ever, by Keith Buchanan). With a good mix of seniors and young up-and-coming players, they played the game with good grace and with real determination.

Special mention should be made of Arshdeep Sharma, who had a day to remember:

Bowled the first ball for Maghera 2nd IX

First to take a wicket for Maghera 2nd IX

First to take a catch for Maghera 2nd IX

Hit the first run for Maghera 2nd IX

Hit the first boundary for Maghera 2nd IX

First batsman out for Maghera 2nd IX

All in his first league game for Maghera!

The first victory for Maghera 2nd IX, at the first attempt. The first, but not the last…

Written By Tim Evans

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