Champagne on Ice for Diamond Duck

Fast-bowler Asad Amir gets a wicket on the first ball of the season

Accies travelled to Alloa on Saturday to play Clackmannan County Cricket Club at their picturesque ground, The Arns, for the first match of the 2017 season. Due to the Bank Holiday weekend, a few regulars were on vacation, including a last-minute weekend in Paris. Even so, Accies had a strong line-up and a rapid bowling attack.

Accies were elected to bat first. Captain Andrew Cosh and Accies new opening batsman from Kent, Mike Evans, stepped up. Unusually, the match was played on Clackmannan’s Astro pitch, due to the grass wicket being “too dry and cracked” – an almost unheard of scenario in Scotland, and the first-time Clackmannan CCC have experienced such dry conditions on record.

Accies started off with a good tempo. Mike playing some glorious drives down the ground, and Cosh punishing anything short of a length. Clackmannan got the breakthrough, Mike getting a fine edge behind off K. Hefer’s bowling, and Accies were 20 for 1. This brought Adnan Ali to the crease, another Accies debutant, and together with Cosh, steadily ticked the score along.

A change in Clackmannan’s bowling led to the captain's wicket, as Cosh was caught at first slip for 31. Accies were 50 for 2 after 14 overs. Y. Khanchi joined A. Ali, and both looked in good form. A. Ali was striking the ball well around the ground, until he was caught at long-off for 29, closely followed by Y. Khanchi in a similar dismissal.

Ashok Kumar, batting at 5, managed to steady the ship, and played some stunning shots, most notably a classy drive through the covers for four. A. Amir and T. Banerjee also looked confident, but were out early from good deliveries, lbw and caught behind respectively.

Up stepped Troy MacLachlan, who began his innings with a flurry of boundaries. Ashok and Troy built a fantastic partnership, taking Accies from 73 for 5 wickets to 142 runs after 42 overs. Incredible batting, with Troy playing in his first match for Accies, and Ashok’s technical batting style was great to watch. In an effort to further escalate the run-rate, both were caught in the field, Ashok top scoring on 33 and Troy 26. Unfortunately, the tail didn’t wag and Accies were all out for 148 after 45 overs.

On a solid batting surface, and fast outfield, Accies underperformed in the batting department – many batsmen making a good start, but not going on to a big score. However, a total of 148 was easily defendable given the ferocious bowling attack in Accies armoury.

A brief lunch was taken, as bowlers warmed up for a challenging afternoon session. First to bowl with the new ball, Accies paceman Asad Amir. The first delivery of the season was quicker than the batsman expected, the ball went high up, and was spectacularly caught at mid-wicket by P. Nagaraj. Plenty of celebrations, and deservingly the champagne Moet Moment.

A. Amir continued to bowl exceptionally well and was equally supported by consistent and fast bowling from Y. Khanchi. Thanks to the pressure at both bowling ends, Asad dismissed the top three batsmen, and Clackmannan were 25 for 3 after 10 overs.

A. Ali and A. Kumar came into the bowling attack, and both fast bowlers continued to apply the pressure. A. Ali took the next 4 wickets, and Clackmannan were on 47 runs for 7 wickets after 22 overs. With all of Clackmannan’s top batsmen out, Accies were in a commanding position, and possibly overconfident of victory.

In a twist of fortune, Clackmannan’s number 7 batsman, A. Alamgir, swung the bat and scored 77 runs, making a century partnership with the number 9 batsman, to reach the 148 runs in 37 overs. Much to be commended from such a dire situation, however Accies should have capitalised on their strong position, and taken a couple of opportunities to close out the match. Congratulations to Clackmannan CCC, a remarkable partnership to turn the game around.

Plenty to be learnt for the next match, but plenty of positives as well. The quality of the batting line-up is still to shine, and the bowlers are yet to exploit a grass wicket!

Bowling highlights include A. Amir, 10 overs 3 maidens 34 runs for 3 wickets. A. Ali, 8 overs 1 maiden 28 runs for 4 wickets, and consistent bowling from Y. Khanchi, 10 overs 3 maidens for only 29 runs.

A sterling effort by Troy behind the stumps, taking 3 great catches. 2 spectacular catches by P. Nagaraj, and a good catch at mid-on by Sammy.

Moet Moment: Asad Amir, a first ball of the season Diamond Duck delivery.

Next week we host Edinburgh South at New Field, and Accies will look to bounce back stronger than ever.


Andrew Cosh