A magificent all-round performance from John Graham proved the vital difference as Selkirk’s 2nd XI opened their Border Reserve League campaign with a thrilling 8 run victory at St Boswells. “Rhino” followed an innings-saving knock of 42 not out with 5 for 25 as the Souters fashioned a victory that, prior to Graham’s heroics, had looked most unlikely.
Batting first in glorious, sun-soaked conditions the visitors slumped to 44/5 before Graham arrived at the crease and bailed out what seemed to be a sinking ship. Batting with commendable patience and discipline, Graham eschewed flashy or ambitious strokes and was content to take what the bowling gave him. Assisted by some aggressive running between the wickets he and Massie helped take Selkirk past the century mark before the skipper fell to Wilson, top-edging a pull shot and being caught at square leg when seemingly well-set and in a position to accelerate the scoring.
Nevertheless, by that stage Selkirk had salvaged their innings and, assisted by some wayward Boswells bowling, had amassed a respectable total. It could have been better still had the top order not succumbed to a series of rash shots: Gordon Branston slapped a full-toss straight to extra cover while Cammie MacDonald lifted his head and played all around a straight delivery. Gardiner, Wilkie and Hughes each looked comfortable, only to falter when on the point of establishing themselves. Mitchell Branston, however, batted with greater application than his score suggests and Chris Fairbairn’s runs at the death would prove more important than they may have seemed at the time.
Thanks to Graham, however, Selkirk were able to bat for the full 40 overs and, as it transpired, every run would prove crucial.
St Boswells innings began confidently, though Massie should have caught Goodwin before the infamous one-legged Rastafarian had made much progress. The chance was spilled however and the West Indian punished the visitors on his way to 38 before he skied a Graham delivery to Gordon Branston at deepish mid-off.
Although they needed fewer than four runs an over, the home side were soon behind the run rate thanks to some accurate and nagging Selkirk bowling. Gardiner found some swing while Wilkie and Branston produced usefully miserly spells that put Boswells under pressure.
That provided a platform for Graham’s off-spinners and they did not disappoint: after five overs he’d taken 4 for 9. Even so, St Boswells were far from beaten and with skipper Elms leading the way the home side were still in with a chance of snatching victory. Though Selkirk’s ground-fielding was generally reliable their catching was not and no fewer than half a dozen chances were spilled.
And so with ten overs left Boswells needed just a run a ball. It looked as though they might get them too as Elms led by example, smashing five boundaries on his way to 32. With two overs left St Boswells needed just 8 runs for victory. Graham, however, was to have the last word, persuading Elms to sky a catch to Hughes at mid-off. Showing admirable concentration and knowing the match was, in a literal sense, in his hands the youngster juggled the ball at least three times before finally, and happily, clutching on to the ball for the vital catch that won the match for Selkirk.
It was a fitting end to a terrific day of cricket, played in splendid conditions and in the right spirit and that will be remembered for Graham’s man-of-the-match all-round performance.
St Boswells 2nd XI vs Selkirk 2nd XI, Sunday May 1st 2011
Selkirk won by 8 runs. Toss won by Selkirk who opted to bat.
1. G Branston c G Lane b A Ruther 7
2. C MacDonald b G Dean 4
3. I Gardiner b G Dean 2
4. R Wilkie c A Ruther b G Lane 10
5. L Hughes c&b R Elms 7
6. M Branston b G Lane 3
7. J Graham Not Out 42
8. A Massie* c G Dean b C Wilson 16
9. C Fairbairn c T Goodwin b C Wilson 7
10. I Buckley b C Wilson 2
11. C Haldane Not Out 0
Total: 136/9 (40 overs)
Bowling: G Dean 8-0-28-1, A Rutter 8-0-25-2, G Lane 8-2-21-2, R Elms 8-0-22-1, C Wilson 7-1-27-3, G Nichol 1-0-1-0
1. T Goodwin c G Branston b Graham 38
2. G Lane Hit wicket b Buckley 4
3. C Wilson b Gardiner 2
4. K Borthwick b Wilkie 2
5. A Rutter b Graham 5
6. R Elms c Hughes b Graham 32
7. L Trousdale b Graham 0
8. S Hunter b Buckley 2
9. G Nichol b Graham 1
10. G Deans b Hughes 14
11. H Bacher Not Out 0
Total: 128 All Out (38.2 overs)
Bowling: Buckley 8-1-29-2, Gardiner 6-1-19-1, Wilkie 8-3-17-1, G Branston 8-3-14, Graham 7.2-1-25-5, Hughes 1-0-9-1