A hat-trick from Avi Gelley could not stop MAL from going down to a 57-run defeat against Dunstable Town in a friendly.
Up against strong opposition on a beautiful ground at Dunstable Town CC, the match ended in defeat for MAL, there were plenty of positives to be taken from the game.
Dunstable won the toss and elected to bat first, on a hard, flat looking track, with an immaculate outfield. Yoav Lebens and Chris Tomaszewski opened the bowling, with Lebens finding early swing to trouble Copcutt, but every bad ball was being punished and the Dunstable openers took the score to 46-0 after nine overs.
Mark Landau replaced Tomaszewski who had struggled for rhythm running up the hill, and was able to stem the flow of runs. Lebens then found the perfect line and length of inswinger to trap Copcutt LBW for an aggressive 28.
The other opener Custance was playing circumspectly and this, couple with some tight bowling started to bring the scoring rate down. Lebens finished with figures of 1-32 from his eight over spell, and was replaced by Grant Traub, who immediately found an immaculate line and length. His first three overs were maidens, with the second of them containing two wickets, Liam and Horton both being bamboozled and seeing their off stumps knocked back.
Landau was unlucky to finish his spell wicketless but returned good figures from his eight overs of 0-29. Traub picked up his third wicket, again hitting the stumps to bowl Barker for 8, to leave Dunstable on 88-4 from 25 overs.
Mike Klinger had replaced Landau and was bowling tightly, and was unlucky not to pick up one or two wickets. Traub finished his eight overs with the outstanding figures of 3-19.
Dunstable threatened to get up towards 200, running well between the wickets and taking advantage of the big field against the slow bowling of Gav Lebens and Avi Gelley. With 36 runs having come in the previous three overs and four balls. Avi Gelley picked up two in two, having Custance held at mid-wicket by Josh Begner for 52, and then trapping Gilbert LBW first ball. With the first ball of his next over being a hat-trick ball the field was brought in, and he responded, bowling an absolute jaffa at Ilyas, who had batted very well for 39, drifting in and spinning away to bowl him, prompting riotous scenes. There was time for Gelley to pick up a fourth wicket before Dunstable's innings finished, Avi Nejad holding on to a good catch at mid on.
The feeling was that Dunstable's total of 165 was eminently gettable if MAL batted sensibly. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Four batsmen reached double figures, but no-one went on to play a substantial innings.
Landau and Josh Begner found it difficult to get the ball away early on, before Begner was bowled for 2, and Landau was LBW for 16. Matt Shorts was bowled for 2, and Mark Lazar was stumped for 5. Avi Nejad was given out bowled when it looked like the ball had cannoned back off the keeper to hit the stumps. Yoav Lebens and Grant Traub threatened a bit of a revival, putting on 38 in four overs.
Lebens cracked an enormous straight 6 over the 75-yard boundary, before looking to dish out a repeat dosage, a full-blooded strike was spectacularly held one handed in the deep, and he went for 17. Tomasewski was bowled for 5, before Avi Gelley, fresh from his hat-trick, looked fluent, and struck one very sweet boundary, before feathering through to the keeper whilst looking to pull leg spinner Chant around the corner for 13.
Gav Lebens scored a quick 7, before Dunstable brought back their quick bowler who polished off Lebens and Klinger fairly quickly in the gathering gloom, leaving Traub unbeaten on 25, and having looked relatively untroubled.
As it was, MAL fell somewhat short, but the day was competitive and enjoyable throughout, and it is a fixture they will definitely look to repeat in 2011.