BUTE’S hopes of extending their winning start to the new season were stopped in their tracks on Saturday as they fell 54 runs short of the target set by Vale of Leven – despite a determined half-century from opening batsman Richard Harding.
Bute travelled for their second league game of the season with only eight men, meeting their two new ‘overseas’ players (based in Glasgow) at the ground, and after winning the toss, acting captain Guy Crichton asked the opposition to bat first on a pitch that looked like it could do anything.
A steady start was made by the Vale openers ,albeit with a lot of playing and missing against the bowling of Chris South, though it was Harding - who had been causing many problems with his tricky in-swing bowling – who was first to strike, trapping the Vale batsman LBW with the score on 27 after ten overs.
South soon got in on the action, seeing off Vale’s other opener thanks to Craig Murray’s first catch of the match – but Vale captain McAdam quickly took charge of his team’s innings, dispatching any poor bowling and hoping that his other batsmen would be able to stay with him.
Dejoncheere duly obliged, joining his captain at the crease with the score on 92 for five at the halfway stage; though Bute’s bowlers had performed well, causing problems for all bar McAdam, it was now simply a case of containing or removing the Vale skipper and running through to the tail end in order to really take control of the game.
Unfortunately that was not how things came to pass, with McAdam and Dejoncheere putting on a 57-run partnership in the space of ten overs; after a short rain break, South finally dismissed the impressive McAdam for 81, before the rain returned even more heavily.
Thirty minutes later, after some pitch repairs and the possibility – eventually dismissed – of the game being abandoned, play resumed with Vale on 141 for six, and a combination of accurate Bute bowling and a lively post-rain wicket saw the home side bowled out for 173 off 45 overs.
Particular mention for Bute must be given to Murray for good ground fielding and, more impressively, four catches (and one drop - surely jug avoidance!), to South for his excellent slide tackle and the bowling generally which only suffered at the hands of McAdam.
Bute are going to need to reduce the number of extras being given away though, particularly the number of wides - 27 in this match being the second top scorer for Vale. Best bowling figures were Crichton with three for 32 and South with two for 12.
In reply, Harding was positive right from the outset for Bute, but unfortunately no-one was able to stay with him – wickets fell at regular intervals with Bute’s score on 20, 50, 62 and 71, the collapse having been started by the contentious dismissal of stand-in captain Crichton, when the umpires failed to call a no-ball when the ball was aimed nearer his chest than the stumps!
Harding made a excellent 53, scoring only five fours due to the rain that fell throughout much of Bute’s innings, making the outfield very slow.
When Harding was caught with the score on 77 for seven, Bute were wobbling severely until Alan Peacock and Graham Barnsley helped to get the team to some sort of respectability with a 37-run partnership and scores of 19 and 11 not out - but in the end Bute were all out for 119, well short of their target.
This Saturday, May 14, Bute have their first home match of the season, against Hughenden. Play gets under way at 12 noon, so players should meet at 11.30am - and with a T20 competition to play away to Ferguslie on Sunday Bute will be testing the full depth of their squad.