Cork Cricket Club

County battle to victory in Midleton to edge closer to Division 1 title

Cork County moved a step closer to regaining the Munster League Division 1 title on Sunday with a hard fought victory over Midleton at Midleton College. Two weeks after both sides served up a similarly nerve-racking finish in their Munster Senior Cup semi-final at the same venue, they clashed again in a top of the table league match. County knew victory would push them to within touching distance of regaining the Munster Division 1 title after narrowly missing out last season while Midleton knew victory would propel them back onto mix for the title.

Cork County were without opening seamer James Duggan and all-rounder Andrew Saul but still fielded a strong team to take on the East Cork side with the inclusion of the returning Andrew Wootton after his holidays. Winning the toss once again, County opted to have a bowl first hoping to dismiss Midleton for a manageable total. Openers Bruce Koch (2-25) and Andrew Wootton (3-46) bowled with great control and posing difficulty for the Midleton top order dismissing Hitchmough, Mohammadi and Gomesz in quick succession. Ciarán Healy (2-57) and Matt Reed (2-43) took over from the openers in almost 24 degree heat and dismissed the bulk of the Midleton middle order of McDonnell, Dethridge and Whittaker for very little, however, experienced all-rounder Clinton Laverty showed great determination and patience as he hung in there with support from tail-ender David Sommerfield. To the frustration of the Cork County attack, their partnership with a high degree of luck pushed Midelton towards a very respectable total. Finally, Sommerfield was dismissed by a medium pace wobbler from Wootton and he was soon followed by Laverty who finished on 82. Midleton were bowled out for a very respectable 191 in testing conditions.

Cork County knew from previous experience that they would have to dig deep to chase down such a total particularly with the condition of the wicket deteriorating rapidly. Openers Oliver Creedon and Ross Durity hoped to emulate their previous 100 run first wicket stand at the same venue two weeks ago. However, Durity was dismissed trying to pull a short ball from Managuruge but top edging back into the bowlers hands. Skipper Duggan soon followed after he was caught at backward point trying to square cut a short wide ball from Glen Gomesz. In form South African, Bruce Koch, joined Creedon at the crease and both looked to consolidate the County innings. Koch (37) was soon into his stride despatching the Midleton attack to all parts of the field. With their partnership gradually gaining pace, Creedon was adjudged LBW in a very ‘questionable’ decision by the umpire after being struck on his thigh by a ball from Managuruge. Michael Wycherley (20) took up where Creedon left off by supporting Koch at the crease, however, their partnership was ended prematurely after another dubious decision against Koch when he was adjudged LBW despite having made a long stride down the pitch to a bowler who consistently shaped the ball down leg. Chris Banon (33) joined Wycherley in the middle and both batted with great authority and control with Banon in particular showing great composure in testing conditions as he waited for the bad balls. It was a timely innings from the young left hander and should give him great confidence going into the final weeks of the season. Wycherley departed after being bowled by a sharp Yorker from Laverty and he was followed by Wootton after he was adjudged LBW despite having got a thick inside edge. County players and supporters were feeling that decisions were really going against them however their fighting spirit came to the fore once again with their very own ‘Michael Bevan’ in the guise of Matt Reed (16 not out) guiding County home in another match winning performance, ably supported by the promising young all-rounder Noelie Cronin.

The victory was greeted with great jubilation by players and supporters alike as the importance was not lost, knowing that victory next Sunday against Harlequins would all but seal the Division 1 title for the Mardyke side. The side’s depth and character has been tested throughout the season and each time they have responded with great resilience and determination.

Sunday 15th August at Midleton College:
Midleton 191 all out (Laverty 82, Wootton 3-46, Koch 2-25, Reed 2-43)
Cork County 192-7 (Koch 37, Banon 33, Wycherley 20, Mahaguruge 3-41, Gomesz 2-38)

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