Winning draw sees Cowbridge narrow gap at top of the league

By GEM Community Correspondent in Cricket

A hard-fought winning draw at Aberdare helped Cowbridge close the gap to between them and the leaders, Bronwydd, which is down to just 13 points.

This was a match that saw the four young Cowbridge seamers take their lead off Jon Hubsmidt (3-43), and come of age as a unit.

The youngsters got the upper hand when it mattered with Sam Russell (0-37), Tom Harper (0-36), Heath Webb (1-15) and Rian Thomas (3-49) backed up by wicket keeper Matthew Harper show how they have evolved into a potent force.

A similar force has swept through cricket in the Cynon Valley and those who had not been to Aberdare’s home ground, The Ynys, before were to find out.

Cricket is perhaps not what Aberdare is most well known for. Musical connections would possibly trump bat and ball especially as the composer of the Welsh national anthem is buried in the town.

A contemporary of James James was Hubert Parry who is best remembered as the man who set to music William Blake’s poem Jerusalem.

This hymn is now the official anthem of the England and Wales Cricket Board and while it was a seemingly ‘establishment’ sort of choice Blake was a radical in asking ‘And was Jerusalem builded here in England’s green and pleasant land ? ’ he was pondering what sort of world had been created that allowed folk to exist around ‘those dark satanic mills’.

Jerusalem it certainly was not but it’s not too fanciful to translate Blake’s mills into the collieries of our own Welsh valleys and indeed Aberdare itself.

In Blake’s day the Aberdare was a teeming hub of humanity, a typical Welsh mining town. Yet on Saturday, a century and more on, once the clouds had unfolded it was hard to imagine a more pleasant setting for cricket.

The Aberdare Cricket Club has been well supported by various re-generation bodies and can boast a sparkling new pavilion and a ground of excellent quality.

No winding gear, no tips spoil the view now, just a magnificent backdrop of hill sides to frame the action as hosts and visitors fought out their absorbing draw.

Perhaps Jerusalem has now been builded here after all, maybe the cricket authorities got it right in choosing their song.

Saturday’s game though was highly competitive throughout. Cowbridge scored 224-5 which local opinion thought was about a par score. There were runs for Tom Merilaht (50), Chris Willey (58), Jonathan Hubsmidt (41), Matt Harper(28) and Rian Thomas (19 not out). Like last week against Llanelli it was a good total but not an impregnable one.

Aberdare’s response was impressive with both openers showing they understood the need to establish a base to allow a later attack. However to chase a total of the size Cowbridge had set generally requires someone to get a big score but nobody could.

The top five of the Aberdare batting scored 46, 49, 12, 30 and 23. It tells a story of batsmen getting established and then getting out.

The home side were unable to advance their charge was due to the accuracy of the Cowbridge attack which denied the batsmen boundaries and that caused the required rate to rise.

As the rate rose so did the pressure and by the time the last over was bowled Cowbridge had secured the winning draw. It really was an excellent all round effort and Chris Willey deserves praise for the intelligent way he organised his fielders and made the bowling changes.

The next three fixtures see Cowbridge play three of the four bottom sides.

The first of these opponents is Dafen away this week, followed by Briton Ferry Steel and Llandysul.

JRB

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