Selkirk’s 2010 Border League campaign began on Saturday with an exasperating, thrilling, narrow defeat at Kelso as the Souters were just two wickets or seven deliveries away from a splendid victory. To Kelso the spoils, however and, in the absence of the points, the visitors were left to contemplate what might or could or should have been…
Kelso won the toss and invited Selkirk to bat first in perishing, three-jumper conditions. With conditions favouring seam bowliers, it was little surprise that Neil Gentleman and Michael Fenton concluded that this was no time for theatrics or any kind of heroism. Gentleman slashed Hogarth through gully for four but thereafter preferred to nudge and nurdle the ball; for his part and with the ball not racing onto the bat, Fenton found it hard to find any real fluency in as he battled to a gutsy, patient 27.
Having seen off the new ball and with the score on 31, Gentleman swiped across a straight one from Jason Gibson and was bowled; three balls later Greg Fenton was caught in the slips and Selkirk’s steady start appeared to have been thrown away. That impression seemed confirmed when Wilkinson, at the non-strikers end, attempted to rewrite the time-honoured rules of calling and was run-out by no more than seven yards. Fenton, whose call it was and who had correctly deduced that there was no run straight to cover-point, looked on in bemusement as helpless as he was blameless.
Selkirk’s good start had been thrown away and the innings was listing badly. Cometh the moment; cometh Paterson, however. The Selkirk captain began to repair the damage and set the Selkirk innings back on course. With the score on 59 he lost Fenton as Cessford claimed the wicket his accuracy deserved but Jordan Reid arrived to play a fine, sensible, supporting role.
Paterson, who had survived a confident and decent LBW appeal from Gibson, was especially severe on Dunkley who, lacking command of both line and length, sent down a number of long-hops as meek as spring lambs trotting to their doom. Paterson was happy to wield the axe, repeatedly heaving Dunkley, and later Hogarth, through midwicket for four. The skipper’s innings might never be considered a thing of beauty but it proved mightily effective and was exactly what his side needed, not least in terms of boosting the run-rate.
Reid played a notable second fiddle before perishing on 17; neither Graham nor Oliver lasted long and it was Dunkley who extracted some small measure of revenge when Paterson lunged out of his crease only to be deceived and find himself stumped by Dagg for a fine 58.
Nevertheless, 135 from 40 overs was a respectable, defensible total even if some suspected that it might prove 15 runs shy of par.
Gibson and Grindall opened the batting for Kelso only to be pinned down by accurate stuff from Paterson and Wilkinson. With the final delivery of the fifth over, however, Paterson trapped Gibson LBW and Kelso were 6-1. That brought Bud Flannigan to the crease and he chaperoned Grindall through his innings. The 15-year old opener rode his luck but also produced some crisp strokes, especially off the back-foot, as he built his innings.
Flannigan, for his part, survived confident appeals for LBW and caught behind ebfore he was eventually deceived and bowled by Greg Fenton for 23. Moments later Fenton repeated the trick and welcomed Patterson back from retirement by dismissing him in exactly the same fashion.
Despite these successes, however, Kelso were never out of contention even as wickets fell. At the 20 over mark they were bang on target and the game remained in the balance. Grindall would eventually fall for a fine and promising 30, caught, to some of his team-mates’ surprise, by Oliver off the bowling of Blair Amos but from Kelso’s perspective this had the advantage of partnering Dunkley with Dagg.
Boasting nearly a century’s worth of experience the pair began to compile a partnership that both sides appreciated was key to the game’s outcome. Dunkley was dropped and Selkirk’s fielding grew ragged as the contest wore on and the visitors’ grew desperate for a wicket. Indeed, by game’s end Selkirk would rue spilling no fewer than five chances in the field.
For now however Dunkley slashed through the off-side and Dagg brisklly dispatching anything on leg-strump through midwicket. With ten overs left Kelso needed fewer than 35 runs and though Reid finally bowled Dunkley, Dagg stubbornly remained at the crease. Finally, with a dozen runs needed and just four overs to go, Dagg clipped Michael Fenton straight to Reid at square-leg and Selkirk suddenly dared to wonder if the game might yet fall in their favour. When Fenton bowled Fingland for 2 the home side were still eight short with only two wickets remaining.
By now dot balls were a precious commodity and Paterson returned to the fray for one final assual on the Kelso tail. But for all that Selkirk huffed and puffed Cessford stood tall and sent the fifth ball of the penultimate over through square-leg to seal a dramatic victory for the Tweedsiders.
For Selkirk there was just the consolation that it had been a damned close run thing and, anyway, in the end cricket was back for another year and there was even a patch of blue sky to welcome the conclusion of a thrilling game.
N Gentleman – b Gibson 11
M Fenton – c Gibson b Cessford 27
G Fenton – c Flannigan b Gibson 0
B Wilkinson – Run Out 1
K Paterson* – st Dagg b Dunkley 58
J Reid – c Grindall b Hogarth 17
J Graham – Run out 5
L Oliver – st Dagg b Dunkley 0
B Amos – Not Out 5
Did Not Bat: A Massie, I Gardiner
Extras – 11
Cessford, 8-2-9-1, Hogarth, 8-1-37-1, Paterson, 8-1-19-0, Gibson, 8-3-14-2, Dunkley, 8-0-51-2
J Gibson – LBW b Paterson 6
T Grindall – c Oliver b Amos 30
I Flannigan – b G Fenton 23
S Patterson – b G Fenton 1
T Roberts – b Wilkinson 7
P Dunkley – b Reid 13
N Dagg – c Reid b M Fenton 32
K Fingland – b M Fenton 2
S Cessford – Not Out 8
J Thompson – Not Out 0
Did Not Bat: R Hogarth
K Patterson, 8-2-24-1, Wilkinson, 8-1-17-1, Amos, 8-1-26-1, Oliver, 2-0-11-0, G Fenton, 4-0-22-2, Reid, 4-0-16-1, M Fenton, 5-1-13-2