Back on home soil after the reverse at Himbleton the previous week the men of Croft entertained Kempsey at the sun baked Stoke Heath area. The team saw five changes from the previous week with Warren, Cound and Brunt returning alongside first season starts for Joe “Jingle” Ingle and Billy Arnold.
The toss was won by the home team who invited Kempsey to bat first.
The opposition started in brisk fashion through a combination of some wayward bowling and good strokes before Cound hit his straps and became the miserly curmudgeon we all know and love …of a fashion!
An enforced early bowling change due to injury saw Ward taken off and replaced by the youngster Warren who bowled with discipline but with little luck, going past the edge on a number of occasions.
As the pressure built the first wicket soon fell with Cound removing Baker for 10 and then a smart piece of fielding from the Crofts very own John “six million dollar man …we can rebuild him” Brunt ended with the run out of Kempsey skipper Akhtar for a brisk 36.
Wood rung the changes introducing youngster Ness from the top end and old pro Whitehead from the bottom to keep the pressure on. Kempsey were however putting up a fight with some belligerent hitting from Ali and Qayam with the over rate now approaching 5 an over at the half way mark. It was Ness however who provided the important breakthrough as he induced a false shot from Ali with Wood getting under a steepling catch to remove the dangerman.
Kempsey continued to attack and the game was finally poised entering the business end of the innings. Wood now introduced himself into the attack and struck in is first over, trapping Noman without score. He then struck again shortly after removing the dangerous Winstanley for 42 ably supported by a fine catch in the deep from Ward.
With the “Indomitable” Pitt now at the top end creating hostility with his medium trundling and frenzied scowl and Wood’s canny tweak and mystery spin the pair nullified the Kempsey innings. Wickets now fell rapidly with Kempsey innings collapsing to 212 all out, Wood returning with career best figures for the Croft of 6 for 31.
In reply the Avoncroft innings started cautiously with the “Indomitable thou shall not pass” Pitt and Joe “Ironman” Jingle seeing off a good opening attack. The pair however soon began to go through the gears and the runs started to flow. Pitt in his most exuberant Churchillian swagger complemented the touch and timing of Ingle beautifully as an opening partnership of 146 was laid before Ingle was removed LBW for a fine 68.
Skipper Wood now joined “the indomitable” Pitt with the pair adding a further 34 for the second wicket before Pitt finally succumbed, being bowled for 68.
Whitehead joined Wood albeit briefly before Wood was bowled for 15 but along with Arnold Whitehead “the finisher” saw the Croft home with 7 wickets and six over spare hitting a quick fire 24 and showing signs, he was returning to his belligerent brutal best.
A comprehensive win made even more pleasing by the changes in personnel from the week before. A number of senior players stepped up to the mark as well as youngsters Ness and Warren with their bowling and fielding display. It was however the fine opening partnership of Pitt and Ingle that laid the foundations for the victory, effectively providing the game winning platform.
The 2’s are on the road next week where they will play Stourport which will no doubt be a keenly fought contest.
Match Report by Mark Wood, 27/06/2018
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