CRICKET: Half century for 50th birthday Rayner as Willoughby chop down high flying Obelisk

Ashley Rayner
Ashley Rayner

Victory by eight wickets, as two young bowlers impress

Northamptonshire County League Division 6

Willoughby v Obelisk Kingsthorpe

Obelisk Kingsthorpe 94 all out

Willoughby 95 for 2

Willoughby won by 8 wickets

A half century from Ashley Rayner and an impressive bowling performance from two of Willoughby’s youngsters were the catalyst for the home side’s deserved and surprised win over Obelisk Kingsthorpe on Saturday.

The visitors arrived as the high-flying new league leaders but they were soon brought back to earth after a good all-round performance on a hot afternoon at The Green.

In fact the first surprise of the afternoon came before the start of play when Rayner arrived at the ground by helicopter by way of celebrating his recent 50th birthday; and it was perhaps fitting he should have a say in the outcome of the match as well as playing a part in downing the opposition.

Having for once got the better of the coin toss, Willoughby skipper Ben Hollis asked the visitors to bat first and they were soon in all sorts of trouble with Callum Hanks and Jake Quinney both taking two wickets apiece in their fine six over opening spells; Quinney’s second wicket accounting for one of the visitor’s in-form bats Charnley for 14 and coming courtesy of a stunning one handed diving catch by another youngster, Michael Deery.

Willoughby continued to apply the pressure in the field which eventually led to first change bowler Mark Fell picking up two more wickets leaving Obelisk at 61-6. Hanks (3 for 18) and Quinney (2 for 23) came back on to finish their allotted overs and kept things tight again before Nikesh Mistry (1 for 15) and Hollis (2 for 1) mopped up the tail as Obelisk were skittled for 94; Ryan Rayment with 25 and Billy Foreman in at 8 making 23 their top scorers.

In reply, Willoughby suffered an early blow when Chaitanya Kurusala was caught out with just one run on the board. This brought Rayner to the middle with remaining opener James Goodwin and the pair steadily built up an excellent partnership, this in the face of Obelisk’s bowling and some less than complimentary comments about Rayner’s mode of transport for the day.

They made a partnership of 89 which was broken when Goodwin was bowled having made 31, albeit with the home team needing just six runs to win. And it was perhaps apt after his grand arrival that Rayner should sign off in style which he did by stroking the winning boundary, in doing so reaching 50 not out.

It completed a handsome victory which in addition to last week’s points haul now elevates Willoughby clear of the relegation places with three games to play.

Willoughby’s 2nd team were not in action due to a scheduled free week, but return this week for the first of their three remaining fixtures with a tricky looking home encounter against in-form and big scoring Thrapston IVs

Fixtures – all 1.00pm starts

Saturday

Northamptonshire County League Division 6: Bugbrooke v Willoughby

Division 13: Willoughby IIs v Thrapston Town IVs

Sunday Club Friendly: Matching Green (Essex) v Willoughby