Pacific fell 16 runs short of the target set by Bentley Heath despite looking likely winners for most of the match and so drop out of the Middlesex Vase at a disappointingly early stage. Another lower order collapse and a sequence of strange events that all seemed to go against the Islington side meant the home sides perseverance ultimately brought a deserved win. Pacific also suffered the likely loss of middle-order batsman Jim Davies for some time with what proved to be a ruptured calf muscle and torn tendons.
Bentley Heath 165 for 7 from 45 overs (D Gratton 9-0-44-3, M Boonaert 9-1-23-2, N Wilkinson 9-1-22-1, J Davies 9-0-24-1)
Pacific 149 All Out (D Gratton 50, J Davies 28)
Pacific Lost by 16 Runs
Skipper Nigel Wilkinson opted to bowl first on winning the toss wary that his bowling options were limited. Opening with Marcel Boonaert and Jim Davies the score was only 15 after the first 10 overs by which time one Bentley Heath opener had been bowled by a Davies no-ball and the other had survived a difficult chance to slip as well as a number of other scares.
The experienced pair of Al Roberts and the skipper himself kept the shackles on the wily Wilkinson getting the first breakthrough in his second over. With the run rate less than three an over but the wicket and slow outfield contributing to the low scoring Pacific knew they needed to keep the runs in check. Spinner Doug Gratton claimed a wicket with his fist delivery as a short ball was hit to the impressive Shaun Cochrane at point. Attempts to accelerate did bring a few boundaries and a huge six from the spinner but were largely contained by both Gratton and the returning Davies and Boonaert claiming wickets at important times with Craig Jones taking two good running catches in the deep and Boonaert also taking a good one at long-off.
A total of 165 at around 3½ an over looked fairly comfortable if wickets were kept in hand. Unfortunately Phil Spearpoint was bowled early on - Shaun Cochrane looked good until a mix-up with Peter Hollman left him stranded - and then a ball that had ricochet off his pads bowled Hollman.
32 for 3 was a tricky situation but Doug Gratton joined Jim Davies and they set about rebuilding the innings. One difficult diving caught and bowled chance aside they did so with no alarms and were beginning to up the tempo Gratton driving to the boundary and Davies clearing it with a pull shot as the score reached 75 from 20 overs. Davies then felt his lover leg pop as an easy single was taken the tension in his calf muscle meaning he had to leave the field for treatment but with his side still well placed.
Craig Jones added a further 28 with Gratton before edging to slip a combined third wicket stand of 71. The score moved to 121 and Gratton to 50 when a mix up seemed to occur over a stumping appeal. The batsman had regained his ground and the stumps were broken but he also dropped his bat. Square leg umpire ruled that the bat had been dropped after the wicket broken and he was therefore not out but Gratton seemed to think that he had been given out and so he walked. Bizzare!
11 overs remained 5 wickets in hand and only 44 runs needed. This was far too stiff a challenge for the recently feeble Pacific lower order so as the experienced Dave Gluckman kept one end intact first Matt Holliday and then Marcel Boonaert were bowled out at the other the latter essaying a particularly unsuitable and ugly swipe at the ball that bowled him. This also forced the injured Davies back to the crease but a cover driven boundary was followed by a ball he could not stretch far enough out to and he too was back in the pavilion. Pacific are likely to be without him for around 2 months.
With Gluckman then adjudged leg-before on the front foot the last wicket pair of Al Roberts and Nigel Wilkinson knew the run rate was still fairly comfortable but now one mistake would be fatal. They added 15 runs but the pressure led to an ill judged attempted single and the run out was the final nail in the Pacific coffin.
We let it slip today. said skipper Wilkinson afterwards. We may not have had the rub of the green but hats off to Bentley Heath they kept going when things looked bleak for them and we folded when the pressure was on us. Good luck to them in the next round. he concluded.
XI :-Marcel Boonaert, Jim Davies, Peter Hollman, Craig Jones, Allan Roberts, Nigel Wilkinson*, Shaun Cochrane, Phil Spearpoint, Matt Holliday, David Gluckman & Doug Gratton