FORRES had a weekend of double celebration, starting with a win over Ross County in a Saturday League game
and topped with a fifth consecutive win of the James Kemp T20 trophy on the Sunday.
Forres needed to take the points against Ross County to stay in the League title race, the Strathpeffer side were buoyant after some good results lately.
Batting first, the visitors lost opener Chris Blake early on after he nicked through to keeper Ian Roberts off Derek Ross for only 3. His replacement was John Sugden who played a few pleasant shots before falling to a good slip catch by Nigel Gerrard off Gus Farr. Forres had opened the door to the Ross County line-up but opener Duncan Scott is a stubborn batsman and with Graeme Carney now occupying the crease they dug deep against the Forres attack.
Jon Benn and Steve Barron took the ball next, keeping the run rate down. It took a cracking catch from Adam Ferguson, low down and running in from the square leg boundary, to remove Carney for 27, giving Benn his only wicket of the match and leaving the visitors on 78 for 3.
Another change of bowling and Tony Farr got the wicket Forres wanted as Scott went for the boundary but was caught by Benn, Scott out for 46 and his side left on 89 for 4. Farr struck again on 98 when Embleton gave Pal Dhami catching practice at long on. Jerry Bishop put on 11 but again gave an easy catch for Dhami, this time off Barron and by the 45th over the Ross-shire innings had stuttered to 123 for 7.
The Forres reply started well, Dhami his usual dominant self with Gerrard digging in. Ten County introduced the League’s leading wicket taker, Renato Belli, who bowls wicket to wicket, you miss – he hits.
This slowed the scoring rate right down as the Forres batsmen struggled to get to grips with the lack of pace and the length of the deliveries.
There was a sense of frustration that brought the wicket of Dhami who uncharacteristically went for a ash at the ball and was bowled for 39 by Belli.
Gerrard now had to take charge of the innings, Forres 54 for 1. Jon Benn was too cautious and on 63 the second wicket fell as Benn was bowled by Moxon for 3.
Just 3 runs later Gerrard was caught behind for 17, giving Moxon his second wicket. By now Belli had finished his spell and new batsmen Dan Harris and Gus Farr cut loose, racing towards the winning line in the next six overs.
The visitors looked crestfallen as the ball was smashed around the field and the end of the game came in the 34th over after a big 4 from Farr. Harris finished unbeaten on 22, Farr 31.
The attention switched to Nairn on Sunday for the T20 Finals. First up was the Forres v Highland game, renewing an old battle for the T20 trophy.
Batting first, Highland set an under par 128 off their 20 overs.
With a big batting line up Highland lost regular wickets with only Euan Smith holding things together, top scoring with 57. A classy direct hit at the stumps from Gus Farr removed John Paul without facing a ball, the removal of Smith to a stunning one-handed catch by Pal Dhami as he dived backwards while trying to avoid the boundary had the early morning crowd expressing its appreciation. But above all, teamwork was the key to a disciplined performance with everyone contributing in the field as Forres kept their focus under pressure.
The Forres reply was another stunning display of the craft of batting by Pal Dhami. He lost his first three partners for a total of 5 runs but against a strong bowling line-up he took the attack to them and came out
By the 8th over the hard work had been done, Dhami had already put 67 on the board along with Steve Barron, batting at 5. Nineteen came off one over from Hussain, including a six and three fours from Dhami, while opener Rob Nixon was carted for 26 off his two overs.
Barron’s batting woes were put behind him as he joined in, hitting the ball with certainty, backing up his skipper. Despite an interruption for rain Highland were unable to overcome the Forres batsmen with the result clinched in the 17th over, Dhami not out 86, Barron 31.
Highland went on to beat Ross County in the next match so Forres now needed to beat the Ross-shire side to hold on to the title. The match was reduced to 12 overs per side because of rain. Ross County batted well, setting a challenging 105. Duncan Scott was central to the score once again, making an excellent 61, Chris Blake 26 as the Forres bowlers struggled to keep
control. Their batsmen needed to hit the ground running, Pal Dhami chose Alasdair Farr to open with him, aiming to give the innings a bumper start. Despite Belli taking the new ball it couldn’t have gone any
better for Forres with 12 coming off the first over and both batsmen found the boundary. This set the tone as fours and sixes were peppered with singles. Needing 106 to win with only 12 overs available, Forres passed the total in the 8th over. Never less than 10 runs came off an over, 21 coming from the seventh. Farr perished in the final over, having chalked up 56 and propelling his side to the win. Dhami closed unbeaten on 53 with a six sealing the match. It was exciting, brutal batting which thrilled the remaining crowd.