Dafydd Nicholas drives Paul Harris
Dafen welcomed Cowbridge to the park on Saturday, another in a series of important games for all teams as the jostling for relegation continues. In the game earlier this season, Dafen had dismissed Cowbridge for little over 50 and then themselves were bowled out for less, so a run fest seemed unlikely.
The wicket was hard and dry and was an invitation to a captain willing the toss to bat first, so it proved as Cowbridge won the toss. Dafen were a team struggling with fitness concerns; Rowlands was not playing because of a sore knee, Hudson was recovering from a shoulder injury, George had a hamstring niggle and Dawes was due to play his first game since the same game in the first half of the season when he tore his hamstring and had not played since.
So it was seam from Matthew Evans at one end and spin from Hudson at the other that confronted opening batsmen Tom Merilaht and Sam Wood. It was steady as she goes from them with 21 from the first 10 overs, Wood was dropped in the deep, but was taken with a fine tumbling catch by George from Evans soon after. Then came the main stand of the innings as Paul Harris joined Merilaht and put on a century partnership, with both care and some firm shots. As they eased to 157 for 1 with 12 overs to go, 250 seemed possible.
Hudson returned for a second spell an immediately dismissed Merilaht caught and bowled, the scoring rate slowed and Dafen hoped for a clatter of late wickets and restricting Cowbridge to less than 200. Some late hitting carried them to 218 for 5, Dafen were left to rue 6 dropped catches of varying difficulty that allowed the score to escalate and bowling points to slip through their fingers.
In reply things went well for Dafen, Evans and Nicky Davies made briskish progress reaching 75 for no wicket after 20 overs, so 144 from 30 overs with 10 wickets in hand seemed a favourable equation. But from there a turgidity settled on the scoring and only 18 runs came from the next twelve overs as the bowlers and Harri Collier in particular turned the screws; two wickets fell making it a tougher task. The new batsmen did not cope with the slow pitch and its mischievous turn. The run rate gradually increased as wickets tumbled, 123 for 2 became 133 for 6 and the game was up, only safety from defeat, batting and draw points remained.
The final drama was George being bowled to make it 9 wickets down with only four balls remaining, Dan Vaughan played them with calm certainty to leave the game drawn, with Cowbridge very much in the ascendant.
Next week Neath visit the park.
Taliesin - 14/07/2013
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