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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Leazes complete cup hat-trick

ONCE again, the accomplished duo of Ben Thompson and Ben Griffiths earned silverware for Hexham Leazes.

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The victorious Hexham Leazes team with the West Tyne League Division One Cup.

But they were given a helping hand by some dropped catches by Humshaugh’s fielders, Steven Arnup guilty of passing up the opportunity to remove top scorer Thompson at a crucial time in the game.

With Thompson on 40 and with five overs remaining, Arnup’s juggling skills were not up to scratch.

A match winning stand of 108 by Thompson and Griffiths saw their team to a third consecutive Division One Cup triumph, the first time a team has won three in a row since Wylam between 2003 and 2005.

The winning margin of nine wickets did not reflect the closeness of the game, though, Humshaugh performing admirably throughout and looking likely winners at one point.

Put into bat, Humshaugh’s cause was not helped when potential match winner Nick Reid was trapped lbw by Scott Ferguson for a duck.

But captain Allan Murray hit his side to 39 despite losing Cameron McKenna for a quick 11 to give Ferguson his second wicket.

Paul Newton impressed with the ball for Leazes and he threw a spanner in Humshaugh’s works clean bowling Hedley Renton and Chris Heslop for a first baller in the space of two balls.

Humshaugh were stuttering at 39-4 midway through their 20 overs, but Patrick McAlindon’s partnership with Murray gave them hope of posting a competitive target for the reigning champions to chase.

With three fours in one over, Murray kept up his end of the bargain while McAlindon smashed two sixes and three fours as they put on a solid 65 to see them past 100.

McAlindon’s contribution of 35 from 28 deliveries was a useful one but he finally met his match when Newton removed him in the second last over.

Matthew Williamson lasted two balls before being run out by Nik Stevenson, seeing Andy Crawford join his skipper at the crease.

While he chipped in with four runs, Murray’s unbeaten knock of 54, which comprised of seven fours, was the stand-out display with the umpires choosing the stalwart as their man of the match.

Leazes’ reply started well as opener Andrew Webster hit Williamson for four in the first over, but it was his only contribution as he did not see Andy Crawford’s rocket arrive soon after.

It was a blessing in disguise for Hexham as it allowed the two Bens to come together, Griffiths arriving on the back of 82 versus Stocksfield II the previous day.

But Humshaugh’s bowlers and fielders initially stuck to the task well, restricting them 47 after 10 to leave the Leazes requiring 71 from the same amount of overs.

Williamson, Crawford and league legend Dickie Purvis were stemming the flow, the batsmen having difficulties with the variety of deliveries.

The dropping of Thompson by Arnup dented Humshaugh’s chances of knocking Hexham off their perch, the opener pushing on to make an additional 21 from then on.

At that point, Leazes required seven runs an over and, while still manageable, it would have been tougher for them to achieve it without slogger Thompson.

But as it was, Thompson went on to end with almost a run a ball 61 from 62 deliveries and Griffiths, two decades on from being named the league’s best junior players, on 43 as he hit a four to reach the target and complete a Hexham hat-trick.

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