After our first away victory the next game took the Croft 2’s on their travels again, this time away to Bromyard. And what promised to be a tight and challenging encounter proved to be so as both teams went into this game undefeated.
Team for the day saw 4 changes from last week’s team with Messrs Pittam (snr), Whitehead, Pugh and Morris coming in, the latter playing his first game of the season.
On a worn track the toss was won by the home side and their skipper, the influential Reece, chose to bowl first.
On a glorious sunny day Pitt and Huxley, firm of fetlock and loins girded strode manfully to the crease and started cautiously on a track that immediately showed its two pace nature. Building slowly the pair put on 29 before Huxley toe ended a full toss straight down mid off’s throat. Looking at his bat he trudged off disconsolately back to the changing room.
Prudhoe joined Pitt at the crease and with a mixture of the orthodox and innovative saw the total progress to 94 until Prudhoe became flummoxed by a looping leggie and proceeded to swat at it madly, inevitably missing it and was bowled by the full-length ball for 26.
The indomitable Pitt was now joined by Wood and Croft looked to be in decent shape with Pitt claiming his first Saturday 50 of the season nonchalantly tipping his bat to the warm applause. The mistress of fate soon struck however as Pitt fancying his chances skipped down the wicket to the leggie but couldn’t quite get to it and holed out to deep mid wicket for 51.
Next to the crease was Whitehead who straight away signaled his intent by brutally biffing the off-spinner Mills over his head for a series of boundaries. But just as he started to build up a head of steam he was caught at cover from a ball he didn’t quite get hold off for 21 leaving Croft 139 for 4 and the game finely balanced.
The reintroduction of Bromyard skipper Reece and Mills however was pivotal as this signaled a quick collapse of wickets. First Pugh was removed and then Wood was trapped Wood LBW for 34. The tail was then quickly wrapped up which saw Croft finish with 178 all out in the 41st over. A disappointing end to the innings as the good start had promised much more for the Stoke Heath men.
If the Croft innings went out in a whimper its opening bowling started with a bang. Opening up with Mark “hand grenade” Whitehead he produced a brilliant full toss that hoodwinked Reece into producing a leading edge which was magnificently caught by the diving Wood!! 0 for 1 soon became 0 for 2 as Pitt “the mantis” whipped up a storm with twirling legs and arms to castle the other opener and the scoreboard now read 0 for 2.
The men from Bromyard however began to dig in starting slowly at first with some circumspect batting before accelerating with a salvo of clean hitting. At 76 for 2 the game was starting to slip away from The Croft however the pendulum swung again with Ed “Murali” Pugh inducing a mistake from Godsall (36) to break the crucial 3rd wicket partnership.
Wood now came into the attack and over the course of 5 overs took three quick wickets which now put the hosts on the back foot and Croft in the driving seat. Further wickets from Ness who removed the danger man Leighton for 58 and Prudhoe seemingly strengthened Crofts grip and at 131 for 8 Croft were in the box seat!
The game was as tense as Slash’s guitar strings but again the game took another twist with the introduction of Bromyard’s Mills coming to the crease. Shepherding the tail he eked out a valuable 13 runs for the 9th wicket, Ness producing a smart piece of fielding to cause a run out. This now left Bromyard a lot still to do at 141 for 9. However, nudging and nurdling his way around Mills remained calm and was joined by Hewitt who proceeded to make a mockery of the tense situation cracking 22 not out from as many balls to give Bromyard a dramatic victory in the 46th over.
For the neutral and Bromyard supporter it would have been a great finish to a great game. To the men of the Croft it was a hard one to take but nevertheless the team showed immense fight and character to come so close in the keenly fought contest.
Taking these fighting qualities to the next game against Eastnor would be important and give us the chance to reverse out first loss of the season
Match Report by Mark Wood, 31/05/2018
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