Pacific and Graces played out an exciting and high scoring draw on the Wray Crescent Astroturf – 453 runs being scored with only 9 wickets falling. But it could have been so different as Pacific had their visitors struggling at 41 for 3 early on – only to see Shofiq strike a century to rescue the under strength Graces batting.
Graces 230 for 5 Dec. (N Shofiq 104, R Bielby 35*, M Alexander 10-1-51-2)
Pacific 223 for 4 (B Mears 71*, P Spearpoint 51, S Lay 45, J Davies 27)
Skipper Steve Lay’s decision to insert Graces was rewarded when Darryl Roberts struck early on in an impressive opening spell of 7 overs for 9 runs. With Oliver Haill also claiming a wicket during his hostile opening burst – and then Mike Alexander claiming a wicket with the first ball of his spell – things looked rosy for the hosts.
However Shofiq was by equal measure powerful and fortunate as s sequence of chances were missed in the field – in between which he unfurled attacking shots of newcomer Findlay and veteran spinner Al Roberts in particular. Shofiq fell for 104 with the score on 174 – thanks to an excellent gully catch from Matt Patel - but Graces skipper Richard Bielby was again a thorn in Pacific’s side as he struck an invaluable 35 not out. With a weakened team he also delayed the declaration until a little after 5 pm – perfect timing as it turned out.
Bielby was forced to take the keepers gloves himself – leaving only two bowlers of note at his disposal. Luckily for him – Shofiq and Silva performed admirably – bowling 30 overs between them. Silva claimed the wicket of Matt Holliday in his first over as the wicketkeeper-batsman top edged a sweep to square leg for a duck.
Jim Davies joined Phil Spearpoint in a 70 run stand that steadied the Pacific ship – without ever really getting into full flow. The run rate was beginning to accelerate when Davies overbalanced and was stumped by Bielby off Silva for 27. With 8 an over now required – skipper Steve lay threw off the shackles in a belligerent innings – though he was soon to lose Spearpoint for 51 – his first Pacific half-century.
Debutante Brad Mears joined Lay in a century stand as the scoring rate increased. Mears passed 50 off only 42 balls with a sequence of four successive boundaries – while Lay fell for a spirited 45. Darryl Roberts was promoted to try to secure the win and he and Mears struck 13 from the penultimate over – leaving 11 needed from the final over. It was not to be as man-of the-match Shofiq restricted the scoring to only 4 – and an honourable and well-fought draw was secured.
“It’s not often a draw is that exciting” said skipper Lay afterwards “It was great to see the new boys – Brad, Phil and Ollie - doing so well.” he added.
XI:- Mike Alexander, Jim Davies, Matt Holliday+, Steve Lay*, Matt Patel, Allan Roberts, Darryl Roberts, Oliver Haill, Brad Mears, Phil Spearpoint, Nick Finlay.