Waringstown in control

Waringstown celebrate another CIYMS on Saturday, a victory that brings them close to the NCU Premier League title.
Waringstown celebrate another CIYMS on Saturday, a victory that brings them close to the NCU Premier League title.

Sometimes the smallest totals are the hardest to chase and the low-scoring matches produce the most heart-stopping action.

And just occasionally the smallest partnerships, and the smallest individual scores, can decide pivotal matches, and ultimately the destination of a league title.

The unbeaten 14-run partnership between Waringstown’s Jonathan Bushe and Gary Kidd at The Lawn on Saturday may be a mere statistic in years to come.

But if Waringstown do go on and lift the NCU Premier League crown - and they are overwhelming favourites to do so now - that ninth-wicket stand should be immortalised.

Chasing just 69 to win - yes 69 - the villagers had succumbed to 55 for eight, and almost ridiculously CIYMS, their own title hopes hanging by a thread, were favourites.

It is important to underline that the pitch was no minefield.

Yes after a week under the covers it offered seam movement to Phil Eaglestone (4-26), Johnny Thompson (3-18) and Nigel Jones (3-26), who all bowled beautifully. But just as CI’s collapse from 66 for five to 68 all out was down to basic batting deficiency, so Waringstown’s struggles were almost entirely of their own making.

When the run chase started, most assumed the formalities would be complete in half an hour, perhaps 45 minutes. But what unfolded was 27.2 overs of nerve-shredding tension.

Johnny Thompson, relentless from the first ball he bowled, dismissed James Hall with a beauty, James McCollum drove loosely outside off-stump to the same bowler and when Lee Nelson injudiciously slashed Jones to slip, it was 13 for three.

For a while, the heart-rates amongst the home supporters settled. Adam Dennison and Ruhan Pretorius looked solid enough, adding 22 for the fourth wicket, insignificant you might think, but equivalent to a century stand in the context of this game.

Dennison eventually drove Thompson into cover’s hands but it didn’t seem to matter as Pretorius and Greg Thompson took the score to 51 for four and within 18 of victory.

The South African struck 28 from 43 balls, including five fours, but when he fell, superbly caught by Johnny Thompson at mid-wicket off Trevor Britton, CI scented another collapse.

David Dawson came and went, Kyle McCallan pulled a long-hop from Britton (3-13) to deep mid-wicket and after a long vigil, Greg Thompson was given lbw as he tried to work Jones through the leg side.

If Waringstown had not got home the implications for the short and long-term would have been disastrous but Bushe and Kidd kept their composure. The wicketkeeper brought the required runs into single figures when he swept Britton for four and he pulled Jones for three through mid-wicket to bring victory tantalisingly close.

CI should have brought back Johnny Thompson but didn’t and even then there was a late alarm. With two needed for victory Bushe dashed down the pitch after calling Kidd for a single to point but the non-striker said no just in time.

From there Bushe squeezed James Cameron-Dow past third man for two to spark wild celebrations. It was the most important 10 he has ever made.