Our next game after the Kempsey victory took the 2’s on their travels once again albeit a relatively short hop across the Worcestershire countryside to play Stourport at their Hartlebury home.
The team saw five changes from the previous week with Messrs Pittam (snr), Pittam (jnr), Huxley, Prudhoe and “the doc” Holyoake being welcomed back into the team’s bosom.
The toss was won by the Avoncroft skipper and in temperatures hotter than an Iron Puddlers jockstrap and on a track, that promised to leak runs from every pore, strategically asked the opposition to bat first!!
The opening bowlers Cound and Holyoake manfully took up the challenge and it was the latter who struck early, surgically removing Pratt for a nervous 5. This brought the Stourport dangerman Cooke to the crease.
Cooke started in ebullient fashion punishing the bad ball and was looking in ominous form, ably supported by the other opener Moss. It was the latter however who fell first when trying a cross bat slog hit the ball straight back to the bowler Whitehead who quickly snaffled up the chance.
Two down soon became three when Cound enticed Cooke to a cut shot and was expertly bagged by Andy “the Mantis” Pittam at backward point. The men of Croft were on top!!
What then proceeded over the course of the next few overs shaped the Stourport innings unfortunately to the detriment of Croft. A series of dropped catches occurred giving multiple lives to both Shackleton and Chew. Both rode their luck, particularly Shackelton who proceeded to chance his arm and take the attack to Avoncroft.
Chew eventually fell for a patient 24 stumped by Huxley of the bowling of Anthony Pittam but a late surge of runs from Shackleton finishing on 88 not out and Foley the Stourport skipper 33, pushed the final total to a more than respectable 262 form their 45 overs.
As the Croft team left the field they knew they had let the opposition of the hook and had work to do with the bat !!
In reply the Avoncroft innings started briskly with the “Indomitable” Pitt and “the gloves” Huxley hitting a series of quick boundaries, a mixture of the rapier and bludgeon being put to use in equal measure. Unfortunately, Huxley went to play one shot too many and was caught behind square with the score at 21when he was starting to look good.
Pitt was now joined by Prudhoe, Crofts effervescent version of “Sonic the Hedgehog” and he was soon in his stride fizzing between the wickets and nurdling to all parts of the square !! The partnership blossomed as the pair put on 70 for the second wicket before Prudhoe was caught for an entertaining (in its own fashion) 33.
Skipper Wood now joined “the indomitable” Pitt and began in typically rambunctious form driving and pulling the ball repeatedly. Pitt was his playing his usual game keeping out the good ball and punishing the bad one and reached his another 50 as the Croft reached the 150 mark.
At 150 for 2 the Croft were looking good however the fall of two quick wickets were to put the game in the balance. Firstly “the indomitable” Pitt was bamboozled by a full toss pie, and somehow managed to drag the ball onto his wicket. Then Wood was caught pulling a rank long hop straight down deep squares throat for 38 with the score on 157. Leaving the wicket, he could hear the words of Huxley saying, “don’t get out pulling” !!!…. oh dear!!
Holyoake and Whitehead were now at the crease and this fifth wicket partnership proved to be pivotal for the match. Playing a supporting role to Whitehead, Holyoake manoeuvred the ball around giving Whitehead the lion’s share of the strike whilst putting away the bad ball himself. Whitehead at first circumspect due to the loss of two wickets began to accelerate with a series of flowing drives that put the opposition firmly on the back foot.
The pair put on an excellent 96 partnership when unfortunately, with the finish line in sight, Holyoake was caught behind for 33 with the score on 253. The opposition briefly thought there was a glimmer of hope when young Ness was dismissed also in the same over. However Whitehead “the finisher” saw Croft home in typically brutal fashion biffing the needed runs from the following over.
A great win against a dangerous side with some excellent performances by several individuals. Some lessons need to be learned from a fielding perspective however this doesn’t diminish the excellent run chase from the batting unit with star performances from Pitt and Whitehead in particular.
The 2’s are on the road again next week where they will play Kidderminster in a top of the table clash.
Match Report by Mark Wood, 05/07/2018
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