FPs recovered from 90 for 7 to post 216 for 8 as they defeated Inverurie by 131 runs in an absorbing encounter. They were heavily indebted to Chris Clelland who was out off the last ball of the innings for 75 as he And Sam Knudson who posted a maiden 50 added 126 for the 8th wicket. Sajid Hameed then blew away the top order taking 6 for 7 meaning that Inverurie could only try to cling on for a draw, but Vijay Vijapur for the 2nd week running claimed the last wicket with only 4 overs left. On a day of heavy showers, it was a testament to the 22 players that despite numerous rain delays managed to complete the match which was played in an excellent spirit.
FPs made 2 changes with Arul Senthil and John Waldron unavailable, so Chris Clelland’s recent good form in 2nds was rewarded with promotion and John Davey returned after a house move. FPs lined up Morrison, Keith, Swiergon, Davey, McDonald, Vijapur, Clelland, Mapplebeck, Hameed, Sam Knudson and Roland Knudson. As normal the toss was a waste of everyone’s time as Morrison kept up his record of losing every one and FPs were asked to bat.
FPs had started carefully when heavy rain meant the players had to lave the field and there was some debate if it would be possible to continue. Thankfully both teams were keen and despite some concerns from the umpires about player safety, it was agreed to recommence just after 2pm. Morrison quickly got into his stride and hit two boundaries and Keith played some savage cuts as FPs raced along. In between times they ran well and raised the 50 stand in the 11th over with minimal fuss. However, the introduction of Hadden led to a clatter of wickets as he claimed 4 for 5 in his 1st 5 overs.
First Morrison played an awful shot and was easily caught by Bateman at point for 20 and Swiergon was perhaps unlucky to be adjudged LBW for a duck. Davey was bowled for 2 and McDonald was also clean bowled without scoring. During this carnage Keith also fell for 42 caught by Stalker off Jessamin and the same bowler also dispatched Vijapur LBW for 7. When Mapplebeck meekly chipped to Strachan to also fall for a duck, FPs had lost 7 for 39 and were 90 for 7.
This brought Clelland and Sam Knudson together and the game perhaps turned on a tough chance that George Hadden could not claim off his own bowling, Sam Knudson being granted a 2nd life. He and Clelland took full advantage, with running between the wickets that was tiring to watch as they ran Inverurie ragged. Clelland found time to hit the bad balls for 4, particularly severe on Norval’s 1 over that he hammered for 15. He kept the ball on the deck throughout, only hitting it in the air to club a huge straight six to raise his half century. Sam Knudson had been happy to play 2nd fiddle to Clelland but started to up the tempo running 9 2s and hitting a couple of nicely timed boundaries.
FPs had reached 182 when rain arrived again in the 42nd over and an early tea was taken. FPs opted to bat on and Sam Knudson started swinging and brought up a 1st but very memorable 50 with a 6 over long on as FPs passed 200. Inverurie eventually disposed of Clelland for a superb 75 (11×4, 1×6) off the last ball of the innings, caught at deep cover by Norval to hand Stalker a wicket, Sam Knudson finishing unbeaten on 54 (2×4, 1×6).
216 represented an excellent score, given the position FPs were in, but the middle order collapse meant that FPs had not been able to declare at 42 overs as they had planned and as they went out to field the main concern was if the match may end in a draw. Inverurie had a great spell when Hadden weaved his magic taking 4 for 31 in his 12 overs, but their lack of speed in the field was cruelly exposed by Clelland and Knudson.
With the 2nd innings not starting till 515, Inverurie lost the services of Strachan who had social commitments to attend to. FPs soon had Inverurie in deep trouble as Sajid Hameed rolled over the top 5 in his 1st 8 overs. Hadden was superbly set up by 4 outswingers before shouldering arms to be bowled off stump for 2. Norval was plumb LBW for 16 to one that kept low and McLeod lost was bowled behind his legs for 6. Stalker lost his off stump for 4 and Murrison was superbly caught by a diving Paul McDonald at short leg for 1 and Inverurie were 33 for 5.
Bateman and Anderson hung on for 10 overs and after Mapplebeck had dropped a routine chance at mid off, Sam Knudson got rid of Bateman for 11, expertly caught by Swiergon in the slips. Youngster Thorpe dug in for a few overs before the returning Hameed clean bowled him for 2 to collect his 6th wicket. Inverurie 55 for 8 with 15 overs left. It took a few overs to dislodge Ewen as FPs raced through their overs as rain had started to fall steadily again. In an effort to prize out Ewen, Swiergon’s very occasional leg spin was called into action and after a loose 1st over, he started to land them on a length and Ewen played a horrible swipe at a googly and played on for 2. FPs now needed just 1 wicket with 11 overs left.
However, Anderson was battling hard and Jessiman was in no mood to give up on the draw. FPs were trying everything with a string of bowling changes but they could not get through the resolute defences. Skipper Morrison was running out of ideas as FPs continued to have 10 around the bat, but Vijapur proved the match clincher again as he got Jessiman in a tangle and a huge FPs appeal was upheld to clinch the match. A number of the slip cordon were appealing for LBW, while others were appealing for a catch at the wicket, the umpire spotted an edge and ruled that Jessiman was out caught by keeper Clelland to depart for a battling duck.
It was a hugely deserved win for FPs but the match was much closer than the score suggests. Inverurie are a far better side than their league record shows and will trouble a few sides before the season is out. They played the game in a great spirit and will be missed in the bar post match if they are relegated. It would have been easy in the conditions to complain but Inverurie got on with it despite having the poorer of the conditions. FPs need to improve their middle order batting as they can’t keep on relying on the lower order to dig out a score. However, it does show that they can bat deep with everyone capable of making a half century. Next week FPs face the talented Lahore Karahi and then Banchory on Sunday in the Aberdeenshire Cup. Will Morrison win the toss finally….probaly not.