Porthcawl out of tune over poor pitch

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

– Cricket

by Contributed ItemContributed Item

Over many years, the Locks Lane track has been widely respected as one of the finest in south Wales but those halcyon days are well and truly over as council cutbacks have led to less preparation and deteriorating surfaces.

This match between Porthcawl CC and Dafen CC highlighted the increasing problem which is leading to the Seasiders considering taking more and more control over their prized facility.

Lack of preparation and watering in the hottest and driest summer we have experienced since 1976 saw Porthcawl crumble to their first defeat in six matches, by nine wickets, as the variable bounce made batting a lottery against, admittedly, some very good, accurate Dafen pace bowling.

Balls kept low and one or two flew dangerously off a length making it a thoroughly uncomfortable afternoon for the home batsman.

Even Porthcawl’s in-form trio – Mark Dixon, Rob Jones and Nick Morgan – found batting impossible as they departed for nine, eight and six to leave the Seasiders struggling on 16-3.

It did not get any easier for the incoming batsmen as wickets tumbled at regular intervals, with none of the home batsmen reaching double figures.

Mark Lewis managed nine and Welsh over-50 batsman Steve Richmond looked capable of holding up the Dafen bombardment until a wicked low bounce caused his downfall for eight. The tail was always vulnerable and four wickets tumbled for just one run to leave Porthcawl floundering on 60 all out.

Both the opening Dafen pace bowlers enjoyed the fruits of the pitch, Andrew Herbert’s 10 overs yielding a fine return of 2-12, while Andrew Randell was no less effective, his seven overs rewarded with figures of 2-17.

There was no respite when the bowling changes came as the clatter of wickets continued. Young Kai Rees’ height made him unplayable and he finished with remarkable statistics of 3-4 in six overs, five of which were maidens. Rhys Marchant joined in the late carnage, his reward 3-10, as Porthcawl’s innings concluded in just 25.2 overs.

This was never going to disturb Dafen’s promotion march when the dispirited hosts took the field. Having learned from Porthcawl’s innings, the visitor’s openers decided attack was the best form of defence and they romped to victory in just 10.4 overs.

They put on 46 in rapid time before Gareth Hughes fell for 20, with four boundaries, but fellow opener Randell, one of the earlier bowling destroyers, saw his side home with 24 not out, also reaching the ropes four times. Acting skipper Rob Jones took the only wicket to fall for 23 runs.

The visit of promotion-seeking Neath to Locks Lane this weekend is now a must win game for Jack Tuck’s side if their promotion hopes are to continue.

Porthcawl 60 all out, Dafen 61.

Porthcawl seconds slipped into the bottom two following a six wicket defeat at promotion-chasing Baglan, who included several first team players in their line-up to boost their chances of a climb into Division Four.

It is not all gloom and doom, though, for the Locks Lane side as skipper Paul Mason praised the effort of his team:?“I was really proud of the lads – we had a number missing and a late drop out meant we only had 10, but the lads did us proud,” he said.

“Our two youngsters played superbly. Isaak (Cronje) was batting beautifully before he was superbly caught and 13-year-old leg spinner Spencer Morgan dismissed their best batsman and bowled magnificently. Their reinforced side were too strong in the end but we battled really well,” Mason added.

The Seasiders set a challenging total of 177-7 from their 40 overs with Mason leading from the front with an excellent unbeaten 45 while Rob Warren continued his purple patch with another solid contribution of 45.

Stephen Jenkins kept the scoreboard ticking over with a well-compiled 24 and further support came from Blair Driscoll (16) and Josh Aubrey (13 not out).

For Baglan, Kevin O’Leary led the attack with 2-20 from his eight-over allocation, while first teamers Rhodri Gaskins-Davies took 2-24, Martin Lewis 2-34 and Michael Powney 1-20.

Powney, a prolific first team performer, then proceeded to put his stamp firmly on the game as he dominated the home reply with a rapid, superbly struck and match-winning 89 before young spin wizard Morgan brought about his downfall.

Without this innings, Porthcawl may well have won their fourth game of the campaign as no other batsman dominated although John O’Leary made 33, Lewis added 19 and Paul Morris 17 not out as Baglan reached their target with 6.2 overs to spare.

For the plucky Seasiders, veteran pace bowlers Blair Driscoll took 2-35 and Marc Thompson 1-20 from their eight-over stints while rising star Morgan took the prized wicket of Powney for 24.

The Seasiders need to get their season back on track after three successive defeats but face a difficult trip to second placed Drefach on Saturday.

Baglan seconds 178-4, Porthcawl seconds 177-7.

John Edwards

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