Riding Mill have returned to the winners circle in the most dramatic circumstances with a last ball one wicket victory against SUCC in the penultimate game of their dice cricket virtual tour of Australia.
Things started will for Riding Mill skipper Liam James winning the toss and electing to bowl first, something that Riding Mill had not done since their dramatic one wicket victory against Dubbo CYMS.
After a steady first over from Tony Potts, Butcher copped some early punishment from Shawn Mepham before he got one to nip back and trap him in front for 23 from 8 deliveries. The SUCC batters really struggled to get themselves in with wickets falling in clumps thanks to some excellent bowling from Aly Hall who claimed Ball LBW for 9 and bowled Pass for 7 to have the home side 3-40 after 3.
Joel Marks continued building the pressure not allowing the new batters to settle with Steve Kent providing some smart glovework behind the stumps to see Marshman on his way without scoring and Hood departing for 4. When Iain Longstaff then chimed in with the wicket of Dunstone for 9, it looked like it may be an early night with the hosts on the rack at 6 for 68 at the halfway mark.
SUCC knew they could still post a competitive total provided they kept wickets in hand. A positive partnership between skipper Maria Buster and her nephew Andrew Kirk saw the score move to 89 before Steve Kent was again in the game claiming a sharp chance down the leg side to see Buster on her way for 19. Sam Buster came and went, advancing down the wicket to see the ball spin past his bat and into the gloves of Kent who completed an easy stumping.
At 8-103, Riding Mill just needed to deliver the knock out punch to ensure they would be well on top going into the innings break. Counter attack was the response from SUCC with Andrew Kirk and the recently married Leon Dhemba building a handy partnership which saw Kirk notch a half century and Dhemba hitting some powerful 6s on his way to a career best 21 not out.
The SUCC total of 8-159 was certainly one they were capable of defending and we certainly had a game on our hands.
The run chase got off to an explosive start with Scott Dickson top edging the opening ball of the innings over the keepers head for six, followed by the next ball flying down to the third man boundary for four, pushing one into the onside for 2 and then two more sixes and a four to finish the over.
Dhemba was able to stem the flow momentarily when he removed Dickson thanks to some fast hands behind the stumps from Kieran Ball but the runs kept flowing with the score racing to 1-46 after two overs and Riding Mill well ahead of the required run rate.
Sam Buster was able to chime in with a double breakthrough however, removing Bennett LBW for 20 from just six balls and then Collins on his way for 1 again thanks to some smart work behind the stumps from Kieran Ball who had his second stumping for the night.
Wickets would be the recipe required to stem the flow of runs and SUCC’s Andrew Kirk despite getting hit for three boundaries and a six, was able to remove Riding Mill skipper with a gem of a delivery for 26.
Longstaff and Raza were building a nice partnership and were still well ahead of the rate hitting boundaries and rotating the strike as needed. Colin Dunstone was able to provide the breakthrough however, nipping one back into the top of off to see Longstaff on his way for 13.
Next ball Michael Marshman trapped Raza in front for 19 and finished his over with a straightforward caught and bowled to see Hall on his way for 9 and the pendulum swinging back in favour of the home side with the score at 7-119 and still a job to do for the lower order.
Steve Kent came in with his intentions clear, hitting a towering six of Simon Hood before surviving a huge appeal for LBW before nicking one to Kieran Ball behind the stumps effecting an elementary catch to see Kent back to the virtual pavilion for 7.
The equation was now 30 required off the final two overs with just 2 wickets in hand with Joel Marks the last recognised batter at the crease on 7 with Butcher yet to face a delivery.
A six off the first ball followed by another 3 balls later from Marks had Riding Mill in the box seat but there was another twist in the tale with Marks controversially given LBW on the final ball of the over. On close inspections of the replays, the snicko technology detected the faintest of edges before the dice crashed into the pads. Marks had to go however, and we were set for a grandstand finish with 11 needed to tie and 12 to win from the final over.
Shawn Mepham was left with the responsibility of trying to close the game out for SUCC and with the field up, he nearly had the breakthrough on the first ball of the over when Butcher was struck on the pads. After what seemed like an eternity, the umpire said ‘not out’ and the over continued with scores tied on the final ball. A thick outside edge off the bat of Potts somehow trickled into the third man boundary with the Riding Mill faithful bursting into rapturous virtual applause.
The Riding Mill players stormed onto the ground jubilantly and surrounded the last ball hero Tony Potts who had pulled the visitors out of the fire to come away with a miraculous last ball one wicket win.
It is unusual for a player on the losing side to be awarded the player of the match honours but the official judges could not go past Andrew Kirk for his magnificent 62 not out that kept his side in the contest.
All eyes will now be on team announcements for the final game of the tour with speculation that there will be some current WBBL and former BBL players named for the Cricket Library Podcast XI in a fixture that is set to capture the attention of dice cricket lovers around the world.