Louth Cricket Club went top of the Lincolnshire Premier League after a century from Azeem Ghumman helped them to a winning draw at Sleaford on Saturday.
After two good results to start the season, Louth were in confident mood heading down south to take on a strong Sleaford team.
Carrington won the toss again and had no reservations about choosing to bat on what looked a flat but green deck.
Stewart West and Arran Brindle got off to a flying start and Louth were on 35 after only 7 overs, when West skied a slower ball to mid-on. It is becoming a theme this season that West falls early, to conveniently bring the talented Azeem Ghumman to join Brindle at the crease, whereupon a large and fruitful partnership ensues.
Yet again, this proved to be the case as the pair set about dominating the Sleaford pace attack, though both survived close LBW calls.
Louth fairly rattled to 130 for 1 at the tea interval, with a partnership which this week saw boundaries a plenty. Brindle finally fell on another superb score of 69 off 110 deliveries, including some beautiful shots through extra cover.
As the innings drew closer to the last 10 overs, Ghumman started to up the pace and was joined by Matt Hamilton and Graham West who both contributed very quick-fire scores of 17 each off a handful of deliveries, before holing out.
Agha Tahir also got into the teens off a handful of deliveries, including a whopping six into the car park, which led to a call to autoglass for one unlucky car owner! Laurence Scott also hit a run a ball 10 to keep up the impressive run rate. Even after Ghumman had fallen for a breath taking run a ball 103, the off spin of New Zealand Test star Tim Macintosh came in for a frightful bit of tap as Stuart Barker came in and immediately timed every ball out of the middle of the bat, hitting 22 off 10 balls to really take the innings away from Sleaford.
With Barker carrying his bat and hitting 14 off Macintosh’s last over, Louth were left on 282 for 7 at the close of their 50 overs. Though a good score, this was by no means game over, as Louth were all too well aware, that Sleaford had a fantastic top order, with 4 or 5 players who were capable of match winning scores.
They set off with Gusto as both Shorthouse and the experienced Macintosh set about Carrington and Corden with some classy strokes, piercing the field at will. But when Carrington bowled Shorthouse and then shortly afterwards had Macintosh trapped LBW, it looked like Sleaford’s run chase may falter.
However, skipper Oliver Burford and Andy Hibberd had not read that particular script and just set about taking apart the Louth bowling attack. Good deliveries from Tahir and Ghumman were seemingly being despatched at will to all four corners of the park and Louth just couldn’t keep a lid on the run rate.
West was brought into the attack and him and Tahir steadied the run rate a little with some tight partnership bowling, but still with 15 overs to go Sleaford needed 100 to win with 8 wickets in hand on what was essentially a dull and lifeless pitch for the bowlers and a paradise for the batsmen.
West then picked up the two key wickets of Burford (60)and Hibbert (41) with the help of super catching in the field from Carrington who took a catch full stretch low to his right and Lawrence Scott in the deep. Again, this looked a game changing moment, but Paul Roberts came to the crease and swung from the hip from word go, hitting 39 off 35 balls, to keep Sleaford still just in the game.
But Carrington who had fielded superbly off his own bowling all game, managed to sneak one under his bat to see off stump cartwheeling and it was then downhill for Louth as Sleafords assault on the Louth total, much to the relief of the Ludensians finally teetered out.
Jake Sanders again bowled brilliantly at the end, trapping Burrows LBW and Ghumman came back on for the flagging Carrington and picked up the wicket of Morris clean bowled to leave Sleaford on 246 for 8, which despite a couple of close scares, they managed to close on, to salvage a losing draw.
Though disappointed not to pick up the full 20, Louth were pleased to head home with 15 points in the bag, as Sleaford had put up a heroic run chase in what was a great game of cricket.
With Bracebridge Heath’s shock defeat at the hands of Spalding and Skegness’ loss against Woodhall Spa, Louth moved into the top position in the ECB league.
Louth will be looking to consolidate that position as they entertain Spalding at home on Saturday. Man of the match was Azeem Ghumman for his sparkling maiden century.