EAPL gallery: Frinton-on-Sea’s Mervyn Westfield denies Woolpit in entertaining draw
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Frinton-on-Sea all-rounder, Mervyn Westfield, almost single-handedly denied high-flying Woolpit another victory in a Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League clash at Ashlyn’s Road on the sun-kissed Essex coast on Saturday.
Former Essex county star Westfield plundered 111 in Frinton’s total of 266 for six off 64 overs, and then pegged back the Suffolk visitors with a four-wicket spell to ensure an entertaining draw.
Woolpit had begun the day as the surprise leaders, having won five of their first seven matches, a terrific effort from Andy Northcote’s men.
Woolpit’s cause was not helped by Will Parker’s lingering knee injury, which prevented the strike bowler from bowling, and also wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Webb-Snowling’s recent move to Suffolk rivals Copdock & Old Ipswichian.
But it was also going to be a tall order to beat Frinton, who have settled so well in the Premier League following promotion from the Two Counties Championship last summer.
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Frinton, captained by Mark Jones, have only lost two games this season and are sitting pretty in sixth position. Consolidation, their pre-season target, has already been achieved.
Northcote won the toss, and there was no surprise when he inserted Frinton into bat. A century opening partnership between Michael Griggs (66) and Ted Moulton (34) gave the Essex side the perfect start, and although they then lost four wickets for just 16 runs, Westfield assumed control with a majestic innings.
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Westfield struck six sixes and seven boundaries in his unbeaten 111, accrued off 107 deliveries, as Woolpit struggled to keep him quiet, especially during a costly final few overs.
Woolpit had led defending champions Swardeston by just one point going into this game, and for a while it looked as though they had a chance of staying top, as Northcote (90) and Frans Bester (33), the latter pushed up the order to open the innings, put on 96 for the first wicket.
South African Sean Dickson also scored 50, batting at No. 3, but the introduction of Westfield took the game beyond Woolpit. From a position of promise at 166 for one, the visitors eventually finished on 221 for seven, 46 runs short of victory.
Westfield took four for 54 off 11 overs, while Sri Lankan Gihan Dilruk spinner claimed three for 54.
“Merv (Westfield) took the game away from Woolpit. He was the difference between the two sides,” admitted Frinton skipper Jones.
“After a good opening partnership, we were wobbling a bit at 120 for four. But Merv then batted beautifully, as he can do on his day. It was a superb display of batting, and he effectively changed the game with both the bat and the ball. He was a different class.
“I never thought that Woolpit were going to chase it (target of 267), but they started well. With a little more luck we could have won, though I think a draw was the fair result.
“Once again, we have competed well, which we have done in every game so far this season. The club is going in the right direction,” added Jones.
Woolpit captain Northcote explained: “The balance of our bowling attack is not quite right at the moment. We missed Will Parker not being able to bowl, and Sam’s (Webb-Snowling’s) move to Copdock has meant that I have had to keep wicket.
“Sam was not happy to be moved down the order, so he has decided to join Copdock. It was a bit of a shock, but these things happen in cricket and we wish him all the best.
“It all meant that we were a bowler light. We did have four half-chances during their opening stand, but Frinton batted really well, benefiting from us not having a strike bowler.
“It has meant me having to bowl Michael Rippon in longer spells, when he’s best employed in short bursts as a wicket-taker.
“Merv Westfield looked like the first-class cricketer that he is. It was a case of damage limitation from us, and they ended up getting 20 runs too many.
“We were going well in our reply, but I top-edged Merv to the wicket-keeper (Craig Perrin) and Sean (Dickson) got caught at long-off. The run-chase was over,” added Northcote.