Avoncroft 1st XI were convincingly beaten by Kempsey 1st XI on Saturday.
Avoncroft won the toss and elected to bowl first and rewards came early in the game with Jon Hunter removing the Kempsey opener Robinson for a second ball duck. This gave Croft some early confidence against a team that for most of the season looked certain champions. Unfortunately Croft were unable to build upon this start and the Kempsey pairing of Ohren and Jones started to pummel the Croft attack – Jones in particular hitting some imperious drives off Elliot and Hunter. Their partnership of 165, with plenty more batting to come in the Kempsey ranks, effectively ended any hope Croft had of causing an upset. Ohren dismissed for 53 and Jones for 101 left Kempsey on 181-3 and skipper Chris Jones eyeing a declaration. Joined at the wicket by leading run scorer in the division, Zak O’Neill, Jones was looking to push the run rate on further while Croft were looking to buy some wickets to capture some bonus points. O’Neill (29) was removed relatively cheaply by Hunter while Jones was caught on the long on boundary off the bowling of skipper Whitehead. Jones departed for 55 with the score on 276-5, Kempsey eventually declaring on 311-7 off 47 overs. Hunter was the pick of the Croft bowlers finishing with 4-78 of 15 while Athey was the most economical with 1-43 off 10.
With Craig Hughes and Will Sach missing from the team, Dave Anson joined Matt Hare at the top of the order. The pair made a solid start of 45 before Hare was dismissed by O’Neill for 22. Sam Hughes joined Anson at the crease and again the pair looked steady until Anson (25) was deceived by a very good slower ball from O’Neill. Skipper Whitehead joined Hughes at the crease. Hughes, uncharacteristically playing out 3 maidens in a row against opener Baker left Whitehead to deal with a fired up O’Neill. Having been bowled first ball by O’Neill in the T20 semi this year Whitehead was watchful to start and wary of the good yorker ball that O’Neill had in his armoury. Whitehead’s confidence grew though with a couple of short balls that were dispatched to the mid wicket boundary and some drives through extra cover. With O’Neill removed from the attack and replaced with spinner Winstanley Croft looked to take the attack to Kempsey. Hughes (9) though missed a straight one from the second ball he faced and returned to the dressing room to contemplate the stag do evening ahead of him! Dan Elliott joined Whitehead at the crease and the pair took a liking to both Winstanley and Hunabun who had replaced Baker. Elliott was hitting cleanly to the mid wicket boundary against Winstanley while Whitehead picked off Hunabun with ease. The pair looked comfortable at the crease and were looking to accumulate as many batting points as possible. The entertaining partnership of 58 came to an end when Whitehead holed out to mid off off Baker for 39. Wickets began to fall at regular intervals from there on – Elliott out for an entertaining 43. When Pittam and Marcetic went to the crease as 10 and 11 not many people would have expected it to last too long but the pair played an entertaining partnership of 30 – Marcetic thumping some boundaries to the leg side while Pittam played a number of sumptuous straight drives much to the amazement of the onlooking supporters and the Kempsey bowlers. Pittam was eventually bowled by Baker for 14 leaving Marcetic stranded on 13 no.
Croft were second best in this encounter by a long way – Kempsey deservedly winning by 116 runs and all but securing their promotion to Division 2 next year.
Match Report by Mark Whitehead, 04/09/17
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