Avoncroft 1st XI cruised to victory over Astwood Bank at a gloomy Hanbury cricket ground last Saturday.
Winning the toss, skipper Whitehead chose to put the opposition into bat on a wicket that looked like it would provide some assistance to the bowlers.
Astwood Bank lost their opener Andy Clayton early on thanks to a smart piece of fielding from Jonty Heslop. With one stump to hit from point his direct hit left Clayton no chance of making his ground. This set the tone for the innings with the Croft attack buoyed knowing that one of the opposition’s better batsmen had been removed early on.
Jon Hunter then had the Astwood Bank top and middle order in trouble, removing three of them in his first spell, with a fine display of swing bowling. At the other end Paul Athey was finding some unevenness in the bounce which helped to frustrate the batsmen – only when the ball was pitched short where they really able to get him away effectively.
Astwood Bank had one batsmen provide some solidity in the middle order, quickly accumulating boundaries from anything pitched short but the introduction of the pace of Dan Elliot proved to be his undoing. Replacing Hunter, Elliot (6-0-19-1) found a line and length to frustrate the aggression before removing the off-stump of the Bank batsmen who had put on a useful 59. The bowling change, along with the introduction of Mark Wood (7-2-16-2) from the other end, helped turn the game decisively in the favour of Croft.
Jon Hunter returned to claim a 4th wicket, claiming figures of 11-0-39-4 while Craig Hughes mopped up the last wicket with the 2nd ball of his only over. Astwood Bank 120 all out in 32.2 overs.
Opening the batting Sam Hughes and Matt Hare started brightly, with both batsmen finding some fluency on the front foot to drive hard. The change of bowling from Astwood Bank though brought this to an end with Hare being removed for a hard worked 13.
This brought Dave Anson to the crease who crashed a quick 20 before a fine catch at gully removed him. Sam Hughes though continued to accumulate runs through some aggressive running and good shot selection and his unbeaten 44 along with the unbeaten 32 from brother Craig pushed Croft over the line to a well deserved victory. Croft finished their innings in the 23rd over 121-2.
This was a good all round team performance and one that the team now needs to build upon as they face Himley this weekend at Avoncroft, 1pm start.
Match Report by Mark Whitehead, 09/5/17
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