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Clayson defies the odds in Beds win

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Marc Symington

Northumberland skipper Marc Symington was left to ponder how Bedfordshire managed to chase 381 on the final day

Bedfordshire pulled off another stunning run chase to defeat Northumberland by two wickets at Benwell Hill last Tuesday.

This was an even more remarkable performance than the 402 to beat Staffordshire in the previous game at Luton, because Northumberland dominated for all but the last session.

Having been set to score 381, Bedfordshire lost their first four wickets for 40 and although the middle order rallied, at 244 for seven, skipper Oliver Clayson must have been the only person on the ground who thought there was still a chance of victory.

And Clayson it was who defied all the odds with one of the most phenomenal knocks in the county's history.

From just 159 balls, he hammered an unbeated 147, finishing the game with an over to spare with his 23rd four having also hit two sixes.

It was not totally a one-man show however, for George Bacon (39) and Brad Matthews (18 not out) stayed firm as 137 were added for the eight and ninth wickets.

Earlier Andy Reynoldson (73) and George Thurstance, unfortunately run out for 58 had started to turn things round.

It was a good match for Bedford Modern School batsman Thurstance, who also made an unbeaten 59 in the first innings having put the memory of his first-ball duck in his only other appearance for the county totally out of his mind.

Bedfordshire

But Clayson was the obvious star and Northumberland must have bitterly regretted a missed stumping early in his innings.

Northumberland captain Marc Symington must still be wondering how his side came to lose this one and will be having nightmares about it for the rest of his career.

Having won the toss, and with police helicopters hovering over the ground throughout proceedings as the hunt for Raoul Moat went on, he saw his side romp to 359 for six in their first innings, top-scoring himself with 95.

Bedfordshire then slumped to 15 for three, and although Robbie Keogh, Clayson and Thurstance all made half-centuries, Bedfordshire were all out for 225, leaving Northumberland with a 133-run advantage on first innings.

By the close of play on the second day Northumberland had stretched their advantage by another 156.

As Waite (103 not out) and Cragg (60 not out) continued to flay the Bedfordshire bowling on the final morning, it looked as though victory seemed inevitable. Bedfordshire claimed just 11 wickets all match.

Bedfordshire are with out a game this weekend but take on Hertfordshire at Bedford School, beginning on Sunday July 18.