Ipswich's title chances get Stumped
INDOOR CRICKET: Medite Ipswich failed to recover from a disastrous first partnership – and appear to have lost their chance of winning the National Indoor Cricket League championship.
By Elvin King
MEDITE Ipswich failed to recover from a disastrous first partnership – and appear to have lost their chance of winning the National Indoor Cricket League championship.
A win over the Birmingham-based club at the Thurleston Stadium on Saturday night would have given Ipswich the title.
Both sides went into the match unbeaten, with the corresponding game in the midlands ending in a tie. Stumps also tied with Derby, but following this win they will retain the championship if they gain five points from their last game against Cradley on March 16.
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Teams get three points for a win and extra points for every partnership where they outscore their opponents. On Saturday, Stumps took home five points with Ipswich securing one when their third pair scored 35 against Stumps' 22.
South African brothers Sean and Russell Ongers opened the batting for Ipswich and were out six times. Five runs are taken away for every wicket lost.
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Russell ended his four overs with a minus 11 score while his brother managed 14 runs. Their combined total of three was much less than other partnerships on the night.
Ipswich have never beaten Stumps and they gave themselves a flicker of a chance by raising their score to 94, with the last two partnerships particularly productive against an attack that bowled solidly all through.
Ex-England indoor skipper Mike Edmond and Billy Smith were only out twice while last pair, Rick Saggers and Australian Rick Pitman, were only dismissed once.
In reply, the Stumps openers were only out twice and apart from a brief couple of overs in the third partnership Ipswich were always on the back foot.
Their total was passed in the 14th over and the score was 105 at the start of the final over. Wickets were needed, but Ian Walker and Craig McDonagh were not dismissed once.
"Stumps are clear favourites now," said Ipswich captain Gavin Driver. "Our first partnership was crucial.
"Sean and Russell tried 110 per cent but did not get too much luck. Stumps deserved to win, but we are getting closer and closer to them.
"Ian Walker, their skipper, admitted that they cannot afford to be complacent these days. In the past they have had things very much their own way.
"Cradley are owned by the same person who runs Stumps, but I have been assured by the Cradley players that the title is not all over yet.
"They competed well with Stumps in their first meeting, and we must keep our fingers crossed that they can grab a surprise win.
"We threw our match at Stumps away when they needed 43 from their last pair to win. We became a touch complacent and they needed just three runs off the final three balls to win.
"We did well then to force a tie, but we should have won and if so we would now be champions."
At the end of this month, Driver and Saggers will be members of an England side that tours Sri Lanka.
"A number of Stumps players will also be in the squad so it should be good fun," added Driver.
There are six teams in the National League with Stumps no longer having a stadium within Aston Villa's football ground. They are having a new centre built and in the meanwhile use Cradley's facilities.
Indoor cricket began at Thurleston in 1986 and at one time there were scores of teams and 30-odd leagues.
Now there are four men's leagues and three mixed leagues, and the centre is dominated by indoor football, with 90 teams playing each week.
But there are signs of cricket resurgence as there were just two men's leagues a while ago. Two teams travel from the closed centre at Tottenham every other Sunday to play.
The nets may be in need of repair – Saturday's game was held up a number of times when the ball found a way through – but there is no denying the appeal of the game.
Medite Ipswich: S and R Ongers 3 (out 6 times); Chris Norton and Gavin Driver 20 (4); Billy Smith and Mike Edmond 35 (2); Rick Saggers and Mike Pitman 36 (1) – Total 94.
Stumps: Andy Walton and Imraan Jamiel 30 (2); Jason Green and Aftak Hussain 25 (1); Zamier Sulliman and Adam Breakspear 22 (4); Ian Walton and Craig McDonagh 38 (0) – Total 115.