Avoncroft 1st XI took their third win of the league season in an entertaining game on Saturday 3rd of June.
Avoncroft lost the toss and were put into bat on a track that looked good for runs in the first of the win/lose formats for this season.
Early signs though did not look good, Tom Murray removed with a good ball that left him and Mark Wood holing out to mid-off left the team looking anxious at 14-2. Alex Brunt came to the crease at number 4 though and decided to take the wind out of the sails of the Martley openers with some of his signature hitting, first ball he faced despatched for 6, one of many lusty blows interspersed with the odd forward defensive in a partnership of 77 with Matt Hare. Hare is looking more and more comfortable as the weeks go by, this season his first back since a long recovery from knee surgery. The partnership the two built helped to turn the game in Croft’s favour before Hare (34) was dismissed in the 19th over with the score on 91. Brunt (41) followed straight after which brought Craig and Sam Hughes to the crease. Sam played the more aggressive shots while Craig ensured that we did not lose another quick wicket to produce a partnership of 34 before Craig was bowled in the 27th over. Mark Whitehead joined Hughes at the crease, the pair taking a liking to some of the change bowling that was brought on before Whitehead miscued a shot leaving a simple catch to mid on. At 159-6 the game was there for Martley to take, but Paul Athey came to the crease with Hughes and the pair put on 87 in 12 overs with a mixture of aggressive stroke play and excellent running between the wickets to put the pressure back on Martley. Hughes (72) was eventually dismissed in the 44th over with the score on 246. Athey (34) was eventually out in the 46th over leaving Jason Patel, who launched a huge six over the onlookers in the pavillion, and Jon Hunter to scramble the team up to 273 all out. Croft felt they had given themselves a chance of winning but a score like that was by no means out of reach.
Croft’s strength in recent weeks has undoubtedly been their bowling, with Hunter and Athey both ripping through teams top orders and some able support from Craig Hughes and Wood providing the change backup. With the restriction to 10 overs per bowler in the win/lose format, this was going to test the depth of the Croft attack a little more.
Athey sent down his first over for a maiden which buoyed the home fielders and then Hunter with his first ball removed the Martley opener McGahan for a golden duck. By the 8th over Martley were feeling the squeeze on 12-2 with Hunter taking the important wicket of Gardner. Athey’s figures at the end of his first spell 4-2-8-0 and Hunter 4-1-4-2. Wood was introduced into the attack and in his second over took the vital wicket of Pat Bibby who holed out to cow corner, Hunter securing the catch. Wood bowled his 10 straight through and was unlucky not to take more than the one wicket. After his first 5 over he had only gone for 15 but as the Martley batsmen saw the run rate creeping up they had to take more chances against Wood’s flight, eventually finishing with a still respectable 10-0-50-1. Whitehead had joined the attack for the first time this season and went for just 7 runs in his first 3 overs and removed the opener Birchley (39) in the 20th over with the score at 75-4. Croft were feeling on top but a partnership of 97 from Basford and Buxton almost turned the game in Martley’s favour. Craig Hughes had been brought into the attack to replace Whitehead, his first spell from the bottom end of 4-0-17-0 while Athey had replaced Wood at the top and started to leak some runs, going for 22 in 3 overs. Hughes was switched to the top end and Hunter returned at the other to provide some control. Hughes took 3 wickets in 11 balls, removing Basford (69) with a great stumping from Tom Murray and the next ball repeating it take Martley skipper, Clement for a golden duck. Hunter removed Buxton (51) with the score on 180-7 and this effectively killed the game. Martley were all out for 196 in the 40th over, Hunter finishing with 8-1-13-5 and Hughes 8-0-42-3. The Croft bowling resources had been stretched but had coped and eventually prospered.
Avoncroft, back to winning ways are up to 5th in the table now and will need a similar display next week to overturn Five Ways Old Edwardians who will visit next Saturday, 10th June, match starting at 1pm.
Match Report by Mark Whitehead, 5/6/17
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