ON the 50th anniversary of mankind walking on the moon Llanarth were looking to reach for the stars with a good performance against visiting Lisvane.

Mark Baxter recovered from his back injury and returned to the side, in place the unavailable Sam Michell, in the one change from the team that beat Pontnewynydd.

Dennis Heath won the toss and inserted the visitors as the Trees looked to make amends for a truly abject performance when the teams met earlier in the season. It all started so well as David Lomax and Tom Heath excelled with the new ball, fizzing and swinging it past groping willow. Lomax removed star bat Snehasis Tripathy courtesy of a tremendous catch by Christian Dewfield in the gully with the score at 25-1 from 10 overs. Then quicker than one could say, "Houston we have a problem" the wings fell off the shuttle.

If Llanarth were utterly abject versus Lisvane earlier in the season then the fielding and catching from the tenth over onward matched anything on that day, and maybe surpassed it in terms of embarrassment factor. Suddesh Dhruvu (91) and Usman Ashraf (71) profited from an incredible number of shelled catches, the latter dropped three times before he had made 15. They made the most of their good fortune, increasing the run rate and piling on the runs as the shellshocked Trees struggled to get a foothold in the match.

The score was beyond 150 before a second wicket fell as Ashraf, on at least his fifth life, was finally taken on the boundary after upper cutting Andrew Spencer. Dhruvu seemed certain to reach his hundred but ran himself out trying to steal a single to the keeper, though Will Heath kept his cool and threw down the stumps. A wicket for T Heath and another run out saw the innings close at 216-5, quite how the total wasn’t more after such a dire fielding effort one couldn’t fathom.

The excellent tea had nothing to do with the Trees subdued mood as they hoped their batting could turn around their fortunes on the resumption and remove their red faces. Things had to get better didn’t they?

No they didn’t, was the immediate answer as Lisvane showed Llanarth how to catch when Dhruvu pouched Allan Dewfield at gully off of Lewis Deacon from the second ball of the innings. Shortly thereafter the same partnership accounted for W Heath, and when Baxter edged to the keeper off a full wide one Llanarth’s embarrassment continued.

Lomax (71*), batting at four after injuring his knee when bowling, and C Dewfield desperately tried to show Lisvane that the Llanarth team had actually played cricket before, despite evidence over the two games being scarce. They progressed the score to 96-3 before the latter holed out to mid-off.

Lisvane did the basics well, with all of their bowlers showing excellent control and bowling to well set fields, the fielders contributing catches, run outs and stumpings when the opportunities arose. The Trees hoped they could make a match of it with 105 needed from the final 15 overs but Lisvane kept turning the screw and their accuracy was rewarded with an ever increasing required run rate. Something had to give and it was the batting as a flurry of late wickets saw the Trees have to settle for a fourth batting point on 175-8, guided by a one-legged Lomax who provided most of what little quality that Llanarth showed in an atrocious exhibition.

A quite dismal day saw Llanarth take one small step towards the chasing pack whilst the visitors took one giant leap out of the relegation zone. If this match were the race to the moon then Lisvane were very obviously the USA with Dhruvu and Ashraf taking the hero roles of Armstrong and Aldrin. Llanarth were barely the Soviet Union, more likely the Faroe Islands Space Agency, and after such a horrific showing the home team need an Apollo 11 sized rocket up their behinds if they are not to waste an excellent first half of the season.

CRICKHOWELL’S home game against Garnons, turned out to be a much closer affair than many had imagined, given the relative league positions of the two teams.

Crickhowell won the toss and elected to bat first.

Wallace and makeshift opener Hywel Price marched out to face the Garnons opening attack, which included Tom James, probably one of the quickest bowlers in the league, and James Bolton, one of the most accurate.

James did manage to bowl Price out early on, but otherwise his line was inconsistent and he was leaking a number of extras. Bolton (2- 23 -10) on the other hand was using the conditions well and making life difficult for the top order.

Jenkins (4) and Wallace (5) did their best to hang around, but it was the middle order of Cornock (26), Francis (21) and Kerrison (21), which saw the side through to 135 for six.

Tim Price (42) batting at number nine, added some useful runs with the tail, to see the side reach 174 all out in the last over available.

This was a very creditable batting performance and with ‘runs on the board’, Crickhowell felt the run chase could be interesting, with Mark Jones and the young Bowden brothers, Joe and Dan, providing some much needed agility in the field.

Joe Bowden (3-41) struck early, removing Stokes, with skipper Francis holding on to a very sharp catch at slip, but Debenham (37) and Williams (66) saw the visitors through to 118 for two.

The introduction of Kerrison (2 - 43) with his slow left arm spin, might have leaked a few boundaries, but it did the trick in removing the two established batsmen. Phill Bowker (1 - 20) bowled Stockdale and with Joe Bowden coming back for his second spell and picking up another two quick wickets and the miserly Francis (1-26-10) looking dangerous with every ball, Garnons, at 155 for seven, were not strolling to victory, as they might have expected. In fact Crickhowell fancied their chances of a famous victory. The ground fielding for Crickhowell was sharp, but two catches went down with Hywel Price and Jenkins making valiant, diving efforts that so nearly could have changed the game. Dan Bowden (0 for 17) also looked impressive, and might have picked up a few wickets with a bit more luck. As it was, Alderson (15 not out) and Pritchard (8 not out) survived to see their side through for the victory by three wickets.

Crickhowell still sit at the bottom of the pile still not actually ‘in the black’ as far as points go, but they can take plenty of pride from this performance actually giving the league leaders a good run for their money. Let’s hope they can keep things going next week when they are away to second placed Wormelow.