If medium-pace bowlers have a heaven they play cricket on a pitch like that produced at Philiphaugh on Saturday: soft, green, mildly damp and guaranteed to discomfort even the cockiest brand of batsman. In seamer-heaven it is always three-jumper April and a jiggedy-jaggedy pitch to contradict the notion cricket is a batsman’s game.
In the circumstances, this was a good toss to win. No skipper worth that responsibility would have chosen to bat first on Saturday. Even so, John Everitt could not have foreseen the havoc his bowlers would wreak upon Falkland’s batting order.
Opening the bowling, Kenny Paterson and Jordan Reid bowled with great accuracy but little luck as Falkland’s experienced opening pair struggled on a wicket that combined fierce lateral movement with occasionally inconsistent bounce. Runs proved as scarce as neutrals at an Old Firm football match as Falkland’s openers scratched along at one run an over.
If the visitors thought their luck might change once they saw off the opening bowlers they were correct, though not in the fashion they would have wished. Greg Fenton, replacing the luckless Paterson at the Top End, struck in his first over, trapping Nellies LBW with a swinging full toss. This was just the beginning of Falkland’s woes and Fenton’s successes.
Wilkie and Stuart fell in identical fashion while May was undone first ball by a vicious delivery that nipped back to clatter into middle-and-off. The late, great, Brian Statham often warned batsmen “You miss, I’ll hit” and the younger Fenton appeared to have taken this advice to heart en route to the remarkable figures of 9-2-10-8.
He bowled full and straight and let the pitch do the rest. So much so, in fact, that only one of his wickets required a fielder’s assistance. Even that proved a family affair as Darren Fenton held on to a simple chance at mid-off to remove Watson. Falkland battled to the end but this was a day when plucky, scratching survival was not enough.
Indeed the Fenton brothers shared all ten Falkland wickets, making Saturday a banner day for the Bannerfield boys. Only two Falkland batsmen made it as far as double figures and, remarkably, Selkirk’s bowlers did not concede a boundary in 27.2 overs. If the bowlers performed splendidly as a unit, there was no doubting the star performer and 18-year-old Greg Fenton will have to bowl for many more years to match Saturday’s performance.
The only blot on his day came when, with the scores level on 35, he lost his off-stump to Meikle. But by then Selkirk’s openers had made victory a certainty and Rory Banks hit the winning run to record a comprehensive victory and ensure Selkirk’s debut in the East of Scotland league was a winning one.
Thanks are due to Gary Haldane who sponsored the match ball.