Concentration was key to Cuts’ win over Rangers Malachi
Willow Cuts all-rounder Malachi Jones says “staying focused” to the task at hand was the key to his team’s league upset over previously unbeaten Southampton Rangers.
Cuts handed Rangers a 25-run defeat in a high-scoring match at Southampton Oval on Sunday, with Jones leading the reigning Western Counties and KO Cup champs’ charge by blasting a whirlwind half-century and claiming three wickets.
“Going into the game I felt whoever made the least mistakes would win so I told the guys to keep their heads and stay focused on the game which was always going to be a real mental test for both teams,” Jones said. “I knew Rangers were going to come hard so we had to come back at them just as hard.”
Jones broke Rangers’ back with a superb all-round display, gathering 94 from 47 balls and returning figures of 3-35.
He arrived at the crease following the fall of the fourth wicket and immediately launched a vicious assault on the Rangers attack, reaching his half-century off 26 deliveries.
“The batting track was good and I knew we needed in excess of 260 to stand a chance against the batting line-up Rangers have,” Jones said. “So when I went to the wicket I took the bull by the horns and my approach paid off.
“I wanted to get my team in a position whereas we stood a good chance of winning the match. It (track) was a batsmen’s paradise, it was true and only one or two balls stayed low throughout the whole day. It wasn’t too fast and there was even bounce and you were able to hit through the line.
“I don’t think it would’ve been a very competitive game if we wouldn’t ended up with 220-240, so my innings came at a right time in the game and was very vital to the result.”
Jones was let off the hook in the 40s after being dropped in the deep. But his luck eventually ran out after he was dismissed six runs shy of a century against his former team.
“I wasn’t disappointed not to score a century but at the end of the day you have to put your team first,” Jones said. “Once the 300 was in sight for an another bonus point my mind wasn’t even on the hundred.”
Thanks to Jones’ fireworks that included nine sixes and six fours Cuts posted 277-7 in their allotted 50 overs which proved beyond Rangers’ reach.
After putting Rangers to the sword, the Cuts all-rounder unfurled a superb spell of fast bowling to help dismiss the home team for 252 after coming into his team’s attack as first change.
“The plan was to save me for the middle overs because they stacked their middle order with Dion (Stovell), Janeiro (Tucker), Kwame (Tucker) and Derrick (Brangman) all coming right after each other so I couldn’t afford to open the bowling,” Jones explained. “Coming down to the last 12 overs I still had six overs left and felt we had a chance of containing them if not bowling them all out and the plan worked.
“The wicket was flat in the beginning so you just had to look to contain. It wasn’t giving much assistance so you had to be patient and stay in your areas.”
Jones said winning the league is Cuts’ top priority this season.
“We’re pushing for the league title and to beat an undefeated team like Rangers with all that quality has put us on a high,” he added. “Hopefully we can carry on our form and momentum throughout the season.”