Our next game after the Stourport victory took the 2’s to our near neighbours in a top of the table clash at Chester Road on a blisteringly hot day.
The team just saw one change from last weeks victory with Andy “the Mantis” Pittam being replaced by John “Steve Austin” Brunt and so with a strong team we entered the fray in ebullient mood!
The toss was won by the opposition who unsurprisingly chose to bat on a track flatter than a Shrove Tuesday pancake and an outfield quicker than Linford Christie’s lunchbox.
Undeterred Crofts opening bowlers (The Lillee and Thompson of Stoke Heath), Cound snr and “Doc” Holyoake bestrode manfully to their starting positions in preparation for some serious trundling to begin.
Economical as ever Cound threatened the off stump with little success whilst Holyoake also bowled a tight line. Kiddi however accumulated the runs at a steady pace with Small looking in particularly good touch.
Whitehead took over from Cound and started to threaten the batsmen almost immediately with his unconventional variety. At the other end Warren replaced Holyoake for a short burst but a little wayward and times and with the Kiddi team starting to accelerate Skipper Wood brought himself on to bowl in tandem with Whitehead.
The spin pair soon saw some reward with their bowling as Whitehead firstly removed Billings for 41 and then removed the dangerous Small for 66 thanks much to a diving “Tom Dalyesque” catch from John Brunt.
It was then Wood’s turn to get in on the act firstly removing Trickett for 15 and then shortly after E Small for 4 with the run rate now starting to slow. Both bowlers returned with respectable figures from their nine overs, Wood 2 for 36 and Whitehead 2 for 45 respectively.
With the innings finely poised Holyoake and Cound came back into the attack for the final few overs. Holyoake picked up 2 wickets during the second spell however both bowlers had to weather a final onslaught from Zaidi who hit a quick fire 30 to finally push the Kiddi innings to 263.
The Croft team walked off for the interval feeling they had done a decent job on a pitch that looked a 300+ target so went into their innings feeling in confident mood
Crofts reply started off at a gallop as the Indomitable Pitt and the $6m man Brunt punished some wayward bowling. At 60 of 10 overs Croft were in the box seat until a somewhat dubious LBW decision accounted for Brunt on 44.
Kevin “Sonic” Prudhoe joined Pitt at the crease and started slowly but as he found his rhythm and timing the pair started to blossom and put on a very respectable 93 before disaster struck, with Pitt run out on 49 when the pair were pushing for the extra run. Disconsolately Pitt trudged off the field threatening to “incarcerate” Prudhoe for wasting an officer of the laws time with such a stupid call !!
Wood then joined Prudhoe and started brightly with a series of attractive shots and at 183 for 2 Croft were well in control of the game and favourites to win. However the wheel of fortune was soon to turn as Wood was caught at short extra cover to an uppish back foot drive and was soon followed by Whitehead reducing Croft to 183 for 4.
Holyoake was now at the crease and looked to repair the damage building a partnership of 39 with Prudhoe before inextricably playing a hoick across the line and was bowled for 15. The score now was 223 for 5 and soon became 224 for 6 as Huxley mistimed a shot into the covers and was caught.
What Croft needed was a partnership! Up stepped Pittam Junior who proceeded to take the attack back to Kidderminster playing some immensely entertaining shots, swatting the ball to his favourite cow corner. The pair put on a valuable 30 runs and were within 10 runs of victory but the cruel mistress of fate struck again.
Firstly, Pittam was caught at backward point for 25 now leaving Croft on 254 for 7. Young Ness shortly followed and at 258 for 8 momentum had swung in favour of the home team. Cound soon followed the same way as Ness and with just one wicket remaining Warren joined Prudhoe to see if he could help steer the Croft home.
In an incredibly tense finale, which saw Croft needing 4 runs to win of just 11 balls Prudhoe pushed to try and get a second run to keep the strike but alas to no avail as, try as he might, Warren just couldn’t quite make his ground and was run out for no score leaving Croft’s innings 3 runs short and Prudhoe stranded on 71 not out.
A great game of cricket but a bitterly disappointing finish to a game that Croft deserved to, and should have won. On the positive side there was some very good bowling and fielding displays and the top order of Croft innings scored well. However, the middle order this time didn’t fire for Croft and this was the turning point of the game.
The 2’s are back at home next week when they entertain Alvechurch hoping to bounce back quickly and get back to winnings ways
Match Report by Mark Wood, 16/07/2018
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