Avoncroft Sunday XI earned a hard fought and well deserved home victory over Barnards Green in their second league fixture of the season. Having played the last fixture with only nine players Croft were looking to bounce back and with a full compliment of eleven. On a flat deck and with the sun out Croft lost the toss and were surprisingly asked to bat first.
Openers Jonty Heslop and Dan Elliott again showed how explosive they can be together putting on 44 in six overs before Dan laced one to mid on and was well caught for 25. For the second game running skipper Christopher Pitt joined Jonty and the pair again found runs together. As with the previous week both mixed quick singles with finding the boundary, Jonty reached his fifty first, his second in successive matches. Chris joined him shortly after but fell on 51 playing one shot too many, bringing an end to a 114 run partnership from 20 overs together.
With Croft on 158 for 2 from 26 overs we were looking to press on to a score well over 250 however Barnards Green’s experienced duo of Hepburn and Harris pegged Croft back with six wickets between them. Jonty had shown great maturity to bat himself towards his maiden Croft century however fell on 90. He can however take great heart from his growing maturity with the bat this season. Some late boundaries from Charlie Ness and Ollie Brookes pushed Croft to 234 for 9 from 40 overs.
Croft knew to win the match they would have to start well in the field, a superb opening spell from Max Jukes and Josh Cound was just what was required. Max’s first spell of 6 overs for 19 runs took the sting out of any potential quick start for Barnards Green and with Josh at the other end picking up 2 wickets Barnards Green found themselves 45 for 2 from 12 overs.
Croft knew the game would probably rest with being able to remove Harris cheaply. He showed his class and together with George put on 98 for the third wicket before George was caught and bowled by Ed Pugh for 46. Charlie Ness had shown his potential with the ball with his five overs going for only twenty eight runs. Ed picked up a further wicket however it was to be Dan Elliott’s spell that proved the match winner.
With Harris depositing Mark Wood over the pavilion for successive sixes and being given two lives through dropped catches, Barnards Green were on 186 for 5 from 35 overs and things were becoming tense. In glorious sunshine Dan had bowled with good pace and accuracy and finally got his reward when he bowled Harris for 85. This turned the match our way and we were able to run through the tail, Dan finishing his spell with a double wicket maiden to return figures of 7 overs, 2 maidens, 3 for 19.
Mark Wood eeked out two quick wickets and Max one as Croft bowled out Barnards Green for 194. This brought to an end a thoroughly entertaining match between two evenly matched sides. Croft were made to work hard and had to stick to their task throughout, they can again be proud of how well they performed.
Croft travel to Droitwich for their next league fixture this weekend.
Match Report by Christopher Pitt, 14/05/2018