Stunning victory for Bakers Hill over Ferals in searing conditions

Photo by Shutterstock.
Photo by Shutterstock.

Only one game was played in Round 6 of the Northam Cricket Association 40 over competition.

The battle between third and fourth carried no great expectations, given the gulf from the top two sides.

It was the game of the season so far.

Ferals travelled to the furnace at Bakers Hill Oval to confront the local side.

The oppressive conditions, with temperatures north of 40 degrees, meant batting was the sensible option after winning the toss.

Ferals duly obliged, despite their shaky record with the bat so far this season.

Their innings began positively, with Callum Norrish and birthday boy Jack Parmenter compiling 38 runs for the first wicket.

Blake McPherson conjured the breakthrough with Parmenter caught in the gully from a thick edge.

One wicket often brings two.

Troy Sims nicked off for naught, well caught by Colin MacTaggart at first slip, low down and to his left, from the bowling of Steve Wainwright.

Although Wainwright destroyed Ferals with the ball last time they met, he wasn't as damaging on the synthetic pitch at Bakers.

He still captured a couple of wickets and was economical (2 wickets for 21 runs from 8 overs).

Wainwright would impact the contest further in the second innings.

The heat meant both teams would use an additional drinks break with the first at 15 overs.

After the resumption of play, Ferals were trying to rebuild when disaster struck.

A calamitous mix up saw Michael Ferguson run out and the batting side reduced to 3 for 55.

Opening batsman Callum Norrish remained and forged a partnership with Fletcher Page, who is recently laying a claim as a genuine all-rounder.

The pair combined for a 64-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

Norrish ran hard and struck the ball cleanly in an innings that defied the conditions as much as the opposition.

He was eventually dismissed for a new high score of 61.

A couple of cameos from Page (25) and others saw Ferals reach 169 before running out of batsmen in the 39th over.

Aside from Wainwright, the other multiple wicket taker for Bakers was Brodee Starcevich (2 for 31 from 5.5), who claimed two wickets in two balls to end the Ferals' innings and will attempt a hat-trick with his first delivery in his next game.

Ferals set Bakers the challenging target of 170 to win, particularly as the new side had bowled and fielded well in the preceding games.

They started well with the ball, reducing Bakers to 2 for 19, which summoned Wainwright to the crease.

Youthful left-arm tearaway Michael Ferguson was bowling with pace and accuracy at the start of his spell.

His genuine speed proved testing when opening batsmen Brayden Beck was struck in the head after a top edge ricocheted from an attempted pull shot.

He bravely batted on but was again unlucky when he aimed a booming drive through the covers, only for the ball to catch the inside edge and crash back into his stumps, handing Troy Sims his first wicket.

Bakers continued to lose wickets at regular intervals.

The other constant was that Steve Wainwright remained in the middle.

As he has done all season, Fletcher Page found turn and bounce with his left arm unorthodox spin (2 for 40 from 7).

His two wickets were in near identical fashion, cutting back through the defence of a right handed batsman into middle and off stump.

Sims (2 for 22 from 7) claimed his second, after a hearty swipe from the batsmen was feathered through to the keeper.

Ferguson (3 for 36 from 8) was reintroduced and maintained the momentum, accounting for three quick wickets either caught behind or bowled.

All the while, Wainwright scored steadily. When he was joined at the crease by last man Colin MacTaggart, Bakers were 9 for 110, still requiring 60 runs to win, but with considerable overs still to be bowled.

Wainwright set about maintaining the strike, finding the gaps for twos and picking up a single at the end of the over.

Those gaps were widening as the day grew long and the heat tolled on the young Ferals.

With only nine players in the field, one of whom could not run after recovering from injury, opportunities opened up for Wainwright and he took full advantage.

It was a masterclass of concentration and fitness in the extreme heat.

When he reached his century, the target, which seemed unlikely early on, was in sight and almost a foregone conclusion.

Ferals were out of options and had no answers.

They needed just one more wicket for a famous victory but Wainwright, almost single-handedly, denied them.

He finished unbeaten on 121 after Bakers reached the target and recorded an incredible win.

It was a match winning innings, not dissimilar to that of England's Ben Stokes in the third test of the recent Ashes series.

While Colin MacTaggart played the supporting role made famous by Jack Leach.

The last wicket partnership between Wainwright and MacTaggart yielded 90 runs.

The other game of Round 6 didn't eventuate as Balladong forfeited to Grass Valley, allowing Valley to move to top spot on the ladder.

Next week sees Toodyay host Grass Valley at the Toodyay Town Oval and Balladong host Bakers Hill at Bert Hawke 1 in Northam; both games at 12.50pm Saturday.