High drama at Farmers Cross as Quins pip Midleton at the post in a 6 run thriller.

by David Gash

High drama at Farmers Cross as Quins pip Midleton at the post in a 6 run thriller.

Cork Harlequins moved within two points of league leaders Cork County after they held their nerve during a tense finish against third-placed Midleton at Farmers Cross on Sunday. It was a scorcher of a day and perfect for cricket with the Farmers Cross ground, newly bedecked with sight screens, looking a picture as both teams were eager to put pressure on County.

Cork Harlequins opening batsmen Cormac Wilcox (25) and Mike Reid (11) both got starts for the home team which was shorn of experienced duo Ted Williamson and Morne Bauer who were both unavailable. After Reid became Mahaguruge's first victim of the day, teenage keeper-batsman, Rory O'Keeffee, came to the crease but could only manage to put 2 runs on the board before he too was back in the pavilion. This set the stage for fellow youngster Ruadhan Jones to come in and get his side back on track, which is exactly what he did.

The Munster under-15 starlet played patiently for his score of 32 which included some good running, solid defence and two boundaries. Middle order collapses have blighted Quins for many seasons and this occasion was no different as five, six and seven could only manage 3 runs between them. When Liam Hale (1) departed with the score on 67-6, Cory Atkinson entered and took the game by the horns, blasting his way to 43 in a typically aggressive manner and scoring five 4s and one 6 along the way. When Clinton Laverty had him out caught by Smith with the score on 149-8, it was curtains for the Quins innings and they could only manage another 15 runs before they were all out for 164 in 46.5 overs.

Midleton's reply got off to the worst possible start when the returning Jeff Hitchmough was caught by Mike Reid off the bowling of the in-form Eric Cotter without a run on the board. This brought dangerman Rob Smyth, who has only recently returned to the game after a break to play rugby, to the crease. He showed no signs of cobwebs however, as he stroked five boundaries on his way to 32 before he was bowled by the off-spin of Reid to leave Midleton on 4-66.

Midleton's middle order must have been taking notes during the Quins innings as numbers 5, 6, 7 and 8 all made contributions. Chris Gomesz was his usual destructive self; the big Sri Lankan crunching a number of boundaries on his way to 26 and Midleton looked on course for victory. However, when number 7 Andrew Whittaker (26) was caught behind by Liam off the bowling of Chris Reardan with the score on 7-125, the balance of the game shifted and Quins were back in with a chance of victory.

The Midleton tail end edged their side closer to Quins total however they encountered Aussie paceman Chris Reardan in inspired form and in a whirlwind 5 over spell the Tasmanian cleaned up the rest of the visiting batsmen to finish with figures of 4-18. Midleton fell just 6 runs short with 159 and were left to wonder what could've been if their bowlers hadn't conceded 31 wides and their top order, with the exception of Smyth, had fired. Likewise, the watching Harlequins faithful will know their side got out of jail and a lot of work is needed if they are to stand a chance of claiming a win over long time rivals Cork County.

Cork Harlequins 1: 164-10 after 46.5 overs (C. Atkinson 43, R. Jones 32, A. Mahaguruge 3-20).

Midleton 1: 159-10 after 39 overs (R. Smyth 32, C. Gomez 26, C. Reardan 4-18).

Down the hill at the Mardyke, a broken roller brought a premature end to Cork County's clash with WIT. Earlier, WIT posted 143 in their innings on a tricky pitch, but when the Mardyke groundsman went to roll the pitch for the Cork County innings, the machine gave up on the wicket after blowing a starter motor. With the roller immovable, the match was abandoned and will be re-fixed for later in the season.



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