Back at home after the loss to Kidderminster the team were itching to put things right and get back to winning ways.
The team saw four changes to the previous week with Messrs Wilkes senior, Wilkes junior, Ward and Master Keogh returning to the fray.
The all-important toss was won by the opposition who unsurprisingly chose to bat on a sunny afternoon much to the chagrin of the Croft team who admonished the skipper most vehemently and with much gusto!!
Undeterred Crofts opening bowlers Cound and Simon “the swing meister” Wilkes snr picked up the mantle. Cound as usual hit his straps straight away inducing a false shot from the very first ball however Wilkes snr was unable to hold onto the ball, unfortunately missing the opportunity. Cound returned to his mark in a particularly waspish manner with the words “sorry Martyn” being sheepishly offered by the guilty party.
It was however Wilkes who was to strike first, making amends as he induced a false shot from the dangerous looking Babre who was easily caught by Kehoe. Cound was not to be denied and eventually snared the other opener Hamblin for 37 reducing the opposition to 56 for 2.
Cound and Wilkes continued to apply the pressure on the Alvechurch batsmen further sharing three wickets between them as Hipkiss, Howard and skipper Rollins all made their way back to the pavilion leaving the visitors 76 for 5 at the end of 18th Over.
Where Cound and Wilkes left off Whitehead and Ward picked up as the pair continued to apply the pressure. Whitehead was at his parsimonious best returning figures of 2 for 20 whilst Ward picked up his best figures for Croft finishing with 3 for 36. The Alvechurch innings finally capitulated at the end of the 35th over, bowled out for 137.
In reply Avoncroft stated in sprightly fashion with Messrs Huxley and Brunt displaying an elegant array of attacking shots as they effortlessly put on 64 for the first wicket before Brunt went for a big shot over the top but didn’t quite time it and was caught at mid off.
This bought in Wood to the crease who was soon looking for a new batting partner as Huxley was bowled for an entertaining 29 by Gwilliam. Then followed a fall of a further two wickets as Wood got out to a poor shot for a single and then Ness was dismissed without scoring, both wickets falling to the impressive wicket to wicket bowling of Debenham.
Nerves a’ jangling were starting to show among the Croft team as Whitehead made his way to the crease. At 78 for 4 the game was delicately poised and needed a partnership to steady the ship. Wilkes Jr and Whitehead duly obliged as they added an important 28 for the fifth wicket before Wilkes Jr was bowled leaving the score on 106 for 5.
Ward now joined Whitehead and played a steady innings, supporting Whitehead who had now started to play more expansively. The pair put on a further 28 runs before Ward was bowled by Lines, just 4 runs short of victory. Although disappointed at his dismissal he, along with Whitehead had effectively won the game for Croft.
The coup de grace was added by Pittam who nonchalantly dispatched the winning runs to bring Croft home to a four wicket victory, with Whitehead “the finisher” remaining undefeated on 43.
An important, if not nervy win, but nonetheless merited one as it put to bed the agonies of the previous weeks defeat and firmly established Crofts position of second in the league.
The 2’s are on the road again next week where they will play Bredon which will again be a keenly fought contest against a very competitive side. Onward and upward !!
Match Report by Mark Wood, 17/07/2018
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