Portcullis v. Stonehaven - Saturday, 13 May, 2017

Toss was won by Portcullis, who chose to field.

Stonehaven : 202 for 5 (30).

Portcullis : 164 for 9 (14).

Stonehaven Storm to Victory.

Week Two of the Aberdeen Grade Three programme saw Portcullis play their first home match of the season at Duthie Park. Their opponents came in the shape of one of the favourites to win Grade Three – Stonehaven CC.

Stonehaven were unlucky not to get promoted last season. Finishing fourth, they narrowly missed out as three teams were promoted to Grade Three last season. At the beginning of the season they were amongst the bookies favourites for the league alongside AGSFP 2nds, Crathie and Aberdeen Super Kings.

Arriving slightly late to a pea-souper of a day at Duthie Park. Shovon Mostofa won the toss against his opposite number, Ross Devlin and due to the visibility, decided to put the opponents in to bat first.

After bowling well the week before against Gordonians and impressing in the nets throughout the winter, Owen Thorpe was given the honour of opening down the hill the new ball, Mostofa himself sharing the new cherry coming back up the hill. Opening the batting would be the ominous pairing of Ross Devlin and Ray Van Gissel.

Opening honours went to the Stonehaven openers, Devlin particularly looking in good touch. Perhaps mindful of his last performance here at Duthie Park when, on a tricky pitch, had batted flawlessly to reach 39. On said 39 he got out the only way that seemed possible by being run out. This could be the day for him to make up for that. After 2 overs - the score was 14-0. After 4 overs 24-0.

After such a fine start, the batting visitors watching became visibly relaxed. The Duthie Park venue was one of two contrasts. The wicket was lively with surprising variable bounce making it difficult to bat on. The outfield, even with it being dew laden, was still quick and value was to be had for your shots.

Although the bounce was variable, the Stonehaven openers batted and battled well. A few shots were airborne but always out of reach of the Portcullis fielders. The score moved onto 48 before Portcullis took their first wicket. It was the skipper Mostofa who made the breakthrough. Devlin mistimed a drive towards deep mid-off. Ruari Collinson was on hand to take the catch at the second attempt. It was no more than young Collinson deserved as his fielding performance in that position had saved Portcullis many a run prior to this catch. Stonehaven 48-1. Devlin back to the trees for a fine 27(2 x 4, 1 x 6).

It was the turn of Lee Fenton to come to the crease to join Van Gissel. He was new to Portcullis as they had never played against him before. Perhaps new to the Grades.

In the meantime, Portcullis made their first bowling change, bringing on Gary Steward for his first bowl of the season to replace the luckless Thorpe.

Fenton impressed immediately. The first ball he received he crashed past Steward as it accelerated towards the boundary for four. His partner Van Gissel came to the party too. The pair adding 34 for the second wicket before Van Gissel went, bowled by a low one by Gary Steward. Portcullis were grateful for this turn of events as Van Gissel had clubbed Steward three previous deliveries for boundaries each time. Stonehaven 84-2. Van Gissel gone for a solid 33 (7x4).

Next man in was Andy Wilson. He had a habit of batting well against Portcullis and today was to be no different. On the bowling front, Mostofa was needing a breather as well. With that in mind it was time for the ultimate all-rounder Kannan Vijayakrishnan to swap the wicket keeping duties for bowling duties. Richard Collinson on hand to take on the wicketkeeping duties.

The pairing of Fenton and Wilson batted well together. They put on 35 for the third wicket before the Portcullis delivery of the day saw off the impressive Fenton.

It came from the third ball of Vijayakrishnan’s fifth over. A good length ball outside off stump was well left by Fenton.

It was to his own undoing.

Vijayakrishnan had decided to bring his off-spinner to the party. The ball gripped into the Duthie Park turf and came back in quite majestically to clatter into the top of Fenton’s off pole.

The guttural cry from Vijayakrishnan being one of sheer joy at the execution of his delivery.

He had chosen his recipient well. Fenton, gone for 37 (5 x 4, 1 x 6), had batted exceptionally. The one fault I would have for Fenton is his erratic running between the wickets. On another day, against a lively fielding side with the ball rolling in their favour, this type of running could be kamikaze. Perhaps a future victim for Portcullis’s Andy Philip fielding at fine leg.

Time will tell. Watch this space.

Stonehaven 117-3.

Andy Gale was next in. Continuing the positive habit of sustaining profitable batting partnerships, Gale dug in with Wilson. He played what was perhaps the shot of the day. A good length ball rose unexpectedly off this lively pitch towards his visor at pace. Not only did he get his bat up in time to protect himself, he managed to roll his wrists simultaneously to turn the face of the bat to clip the ball past square leg for a boundary.

A lovely natural shot.

The pair added 36 for the fourth wicket before the returning Mostofa came back on to remove Gale for 10 (2x4) with a marvellous in-swinging delivery that bowled the Stonehaven batsman. Stonehaven 153-4.

Jason Gouws was the next man in. If Portcullis thought they were in for a breather they were far from mistaken.

They did capture another wicket though. This time it was down to some good build up work from the bowling of Gary Steward. His first three balls of the over to Wilson were good probing deliveries that Wilson struggled to defend against but fought through gallantly.

The fourth ball however was a little full. Wilson clipped it but not with enough purpose, possibly mindful of the three previous deliveries that had softened him up. The result was that the ball went straight to Vijayakrishnan at short extra cover low and hard. Thankfully Vijayakrishnan was agile and nimble enough to get down low and sharp getting both hands under the ball to take a very impressive catch.

Stonehaven 164-5. Andy Wilson once again proving to be a thorn in Portcullis’s side, making a fine knock of 28 (4x4)

It was a case of two Jasons at the crease now. Jason Matthews joining Gouws. There were no more wickets to come for Portcullis and once Stonehaven passed 200, skipper Ross Devlin declared. Stonehaven 203-5 from 41 overs. Gouws finishing on 27 not out (4 x 4) whilst Matthews finished on 19 not out (1 x 4, 1 x 6).

Liam Fenton top scored for Stonehaven with 37 whilst Ray Van Gissel chipped in with a fine 33. For Portcullis Gary Steward took 2-46 from 10 overs whilst Mostofa finished with 2-53. Best bowling though went to Kannan Vijayakrishnan with 1-37 and that cracking off-spinner that did for Fenton.

Once tea was shared and consumed it was the turn of Portcullis to begin their reply. New skipper Shovon Mostofa took the bold move of leading from the front by opening the batting with Jake Dawson. For Stonehaven it would be the strong familiar new ball pairing of Callum Findlay and Clive Hinchcliffe.

I admit at his point I was concerned about how Portcullis would respond to the challenge that lay ahead. Stonehaven, by and large, had batted exceptionally well on a lively and, at times, unpredictable pitch. The pairing of Findlay and Hinchcliffe, probably the strongest new ball pairing in Grade Three, must have been champing at the bit to have a bowl on this wicket!

My early fears were founded. The second ball Dawson faced from the new cherry delivered by Callum Findlay came on quick to the young opener and it was all he could do to pop the ball up into the air. Jason Matthews on hand to take a simple catch. Portcullis 0-1.

Gary Steward was next man in to join skipper Mostofa at the crease. He managed to see off an ebullient Findlay with no further damage.

At the other end Mostofa immediately opened his innings with a lovely crisp drive through the covers. A fine shot. Alas this is the type of stroke that Hinchcliffe is happy to see. Bowling left arm round, Hinchcliffe’s predominant danger ball is his inswinger. The angle that he bowls at makes it difficult to play at (and difficult to give lbw’s to). So, to see a batsman open his shoulders and drive at him is a sight he loves to see as he knows he is right in the game.

And so, it proved.

Three balls later Hinchcliffe pitched the ball close to where he had previously, Mostofa shaped to play the delivery in a similar fashion. This time the ball seamed back in and Mostofa was bowled. Portcullis 4-2. Initial fears appeared to be merited.

This brought last week’s batting hero, Kannan Vijayakrishnan, to the crease. Joining Steward, the pair fended off the initial rampant barrage of quality deliveries from the pairing of Findlay and Hinchcliffe. The Stonehaven pair trying to locate the scent of a batting collapse, an early finish and the opportunity of a few extra beers to lord over a spectacular victory (no harm in that. We all do!).

The pair took the score onto 17 before Vijayakrishnan succumbed to the accurate bowling of Findlay. Vijayakrishnan mistiming a clip through mid-wicket – perhaps through a slower ball from Findlay – the result being a leading edge causing the ball to spiral up in the air to be taken by Findlay at short square leg. Portcullis 17-3.

With the early beers back on for Stoney, it was the turn of Ruari Collinson to join Steward at the crease. Collinson’s arrival, however, brought stability back to Portcullis’s innings. Digging in with Steward, the pair kept the wickets fallen number at three. The Manager of The Station Hotel shaking his/her fist at the pair (albeit from around 14 miles away!) as celebration extra revenue disappeared before her/his eyes.

The pair were dogged. Steward, as he does, warmed to the task. The old timing naturally coming back he began to score freely.

By contrast Collinson did not warm to the task, battling with his form and timing. To his ultimate credit, he did not break his concentration nor throw his wicket away. The best place to regain your timing and touch is out there in the middle, in the heat of battle. It can be found in practice but it is very rarely found back in the pavilion. If it is, it is by then too late to do anything about that match you are involved in!

The pair saw off the Station Hotel favourites of Findlay and Hinchcliffe who were replaced by Jason Matthews and Lee Fenton. Although less potent than the opening pairing, the pair were accurate enough to cause problems. Matthews especially, bowled an accurate line and length, combining this with variation of seam, got the ball to move at times. It was this movement that broke this useful partnership.

In Matthews fourth over, his persistent accuracy induced Collinson to play an uncharacteristic flawed defensive stroke. Collinson, playing forward with bat glaringly away from the pad, was inevitably bowled through the gate. Portcullis 42-4.

This brought the season debutant Andy Blackburn to the crease. His previous innings had been spectacular. It was three balls - 44W! 8 runs scored!

During this period of play Matthews was rather surprisingly taken from the attack to be replaced by Graeme Bonds.

Blackburn continued to shine. Unperturbed by the Stonehaven attack, he struck a relatively quickfire 16 (2x4, 1x6) before becoming Bonds first victim, bowled all ends up by a significantly quicker delivery.

Portcullis 74-5.

Owen Thorpe was the next man under the spotlight. Joining Steward, the score moved on 86 before Steward was finally eked out.

It certainly was no more than the Stonehaven keeper deserved. His exemplary glovework respected by all the Portcullis batting line-up.

It was that man Bonds again who took the glory. He captured the prize scalp of Steward by getting the Portcullis batsman to glove one. Van Gissel taking the easiest of chances. Portcullis became 89-6. Steward gone for a quality innings of 35 (4x4)

This meant that Portcullis had two relatively new batsmen at the crease, Richard Collinson joining Owen Thorpe at the crease.

This was to be a watershed moment for Portcullis. Usually the club would struggle from this point to reach 100.

Not today though. The pairing of Thorpe and Collinson (Snr) gelled well together. Playing sensibly, the pair fended off the bowling nous of Bonds, Fenton, Hinchcliffe, Andy Wilson and Brian Campbell. The seventh wicket partnership yielded 38 valuable runs and it took the return of Findlay to break the partnership and make a breakthrough.

And what a breakthrough!

It was the fourth ball of Findlay’s seventh over that did the damage, bowling Collinson Snr for a valuable 15 runs with a fine Yorker. It wasn’t finished there. Next man in was Bob Adie and Findlay’s next ball was again full, he trapped Adie lbw. Two in two.

Hat trick time!

Next man in was Toby Williams. Would he foil this glorious opportunity of a hat-trick for young Findlay?

For Portcullis, sadly no. Another quick well pitched up delivery breached the defences of young Williams. The view of his stumps flying everywhere sparking celebrations for the Stonehaven players on Duthie Park. Portcullis from 124-6 were now 124-9. Callum Findlay, the prize possession of a hat-trick to his name and deservedly so.

This left the (not so) fat controller Ronnie Falconer as last man in to join Owen Thorpe at the crease. Normally the experience of Falconer would have him as the dominant player in the partnership. Not today.

Whether the turn of events with the hat-trick sparked something or he was ready to up his game (or both), Owen Thorpe decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck. The game was beyond Portcullis – they knew that. Five Stonehaven wickets had only meant five points and Portcullis knew they had to get as many as possible. There were eight overs left and the next batting point was at 130.

Owen reached that target from the next over. With Falconer being his anchor man Thorpe took Portcullis to 145 and 160. He went onto his maiden 50 for Portcullis, a drive over mid-off for two from Findlay the shot that secured such a magnificent achievement for the likeable Thorpe.

The pair batted out the rest of the game and stumps were drawn at 164-9 – an unbeaten partnership of 40 of which Falconer made an innocuous 4 not out. Thorpe was the man of the moment as he finished on 56 not out. His late burst with the bat adding three valuable batting points to the Portcullis total of 14 in this defeat. Backing up Thorpe with his half century was Gary Steward with 35 whilst Andy Blackburn (160 and Richard Collinson (15) were the other batsmen to reach double figures.

Of course, the pick of the bowlers was Callum Findlay. His figures of 11 overs, 3 maidens, 21 runs for 5 wickets were very well deserved. The centrepiece of those figures, the hat-trick, being the third of the 2017 season and the first of Grade Three. This was also Callum’s first hat-trick in the Grades (going by the website)

For Stonehaven this a good, and expected victory. They possess a very strong batting line-up and with the opening bowling pairing of Findlay and Hinchcliffe - the best new ball attack in Grade Three. In the slipstream of that pairing the bowling of Jason Matthews could go unnoticed and it would not surprise me if he finishes the season with a bag of wickets. Promotion must be minimum in their thoughts and a title joust to be in the offing with AGSFP 2nds, Crathie and perhaps Aberdeen Super Kings.

For Portcullis, it was a good exam for them today. Missing the bite of McKenzie and Mitchell from their bowling attack and their batting nous, they battled on throughout the 45 overs. It may have been defeat once again but they were plucky about it. The heads never stayed down for long and with the bat they battled through their overs. If their approach remains the same throughout the season then victories will not be that far away.


Although Gary Steward deserves a mention for his dogged 35 and two wickets, this week’s plaudits go to OWEN THORPE. A wonderful maiden half century including that one-man assault at the end of the Portcullis innings. His bowling was a tad unlucky as well.


No contest really. Lee Fenton batted very and Ray Van Gisson looked impressive with both bat and wicketkeeping gloves but the honours go to CALLUM FINDLAY. His 5-21 a fair reward for his excellent bowling spell and a fine hat-trick to boot. He also plays his cricket in good spirit. Whilst umpiring at his end it was he who drew my attention that he might be no-balling (he wasn’t – he was bowling too well for that) and his conduct, as always, . Those of us who do umpire know it is an arduous and thankless task. Over the years, I have endured chuntering from lesser players with lesser knowledge. It would be to the good of the overall game if others were to take young Findlay’s lead.


KANNAN VIJAYAKRISHNAN takes the honours for his sharp catch at short extra cover to dismiss Andy Wilson.

Saturday, 20 May, 2017

Innings of Stonehaven

#NameR46How OutBowlerKeeperFielderComments
6J.Gouws27Not out
7J.Matthews19Not out
8B.CampbellDid not bat
9G.BondsDid not bat
10C.HinchcliffeDid not bat
11C.FindlayDid not bat
Leg Byes1
No Balls7

Innings of Portcullis

#NameR46How OutBowlerKeeperFielderComments
7O.Thorpe569Not out
11R.Falconer4Not out
Leg Byes0
No Balls2