After the home victory against Burghill last week the Croft tour bus was dusted down as we headed off down the M42 towards Hopwood to play Five Ways Old Edwardians.
The team saw three changes from the previous week with Messrs Brunt, Ness and Pittam Jr returning to the team in the absence of Kehoe, Wood Jr and Ward Jr. The team therefore comprised of a blended mix of youth, experience, arthritis and athletic prowess however not all in equal measure.
The captains strode briskly to the strip where Skipper Wood won the toss and decided to ask the opposition to bat first on a pitch that looked to offer the bowler some assistance.
Once again the opening combo of Cound and Wilkes took up the mantle and the medium pace trundling began.
However, as opposed to the previous week the decision to bowl first appeared to have been a rash one as the opening FWOES batsmen proceeded to take a liking to the Croft attack, crashing the ball to all parts. Opener Farooq was particularly aggressive hitting through the line on several occasions whilst riding his luck.
At a run rate of over 6 an over and Farooq having completed a very brisk, but somewhat fortuitous half century a change was needed.
Skipper Wood therefore introduced himself into the attack, replacing Wilkes the aim to take some “pace” off the ball to see if this could change the flow of the game.
The change appeared to work as firstly Cound removed Garrett the opener for 13 with the score at 57. As the run rate slowed Wood then removed Kendall the FWOEs skipper for 13 with the score at 99. A third wicket was soon to fall as Cound had Ahmed caught behind without scoring and then shortly after the dangerous Farooq was removed by Cound again for his third wicket caught in the covers by Wood for a very brisk and entertaining 73.
With the loss of Farooq the momentum of the FWOEs innings began to wain. Wood and Cound began to grasp the initiative as runs began to dry up with the run rate now under control.
At drinks Croft were in the ascendancy and this continued post the interval when Cound and latterly Wood were placed by Pittam and Ward respectively. Both Croft bowlers found their rhythm early and complemented each other well. Ward bowling decent lines with a hint of swing and movement while Pittam bamboozled the opposition with his canny hand grenades covered in snow.
Wickets continued to fall as Pittam helped himself to four, one of which saw a brilliant “salmon like leap” from Skipper Wood to pouch “one handed” Williams for 29 whilst Ward dismissed the dangerous Ahamedzah for 5.
The FWOES innings finally came to a close on 191 for 9 in their allotted 45 overs with standout figures for Pittam of 4 for 37, ably assisted by Cound 3 for 65, Ward 1 for 28 and Wood 1 for 36.
In reply Avoncroft innings started in steady fashion with Pitt and Brunt building slowly against some tight bowling. Pitt was the first to fall trapped in front by Murray for 15 when the score was on 34.
Rain however was to play its part as the game was delayed for some 30 minutes which meant the Croft innings was now reduced making the run chase that much harder. As play resumed Brunt and Prudhoe continued to build the innings with a partnership of 76 runs until Brunt was caught smartly in the cover for 49.
Prudhoe soon was to follow with only an additional run scored which was the trigger for a spate of quick wickets to fall as the Croft batsmen looked to push the innings forward, the target now being 154 for the winning draw. At 126 for 6 the game looked up for Croft however Stu “Wally” Walton had other ideas.
Batting lower down the order due to being the victim of a hamstring “sniper” the veteran batsman guided the Croft innings over the finish line ably supported by Kevin “Sonic H” Prudhoe as his runner. The latter nearly lapping Pittam when running the final three to snatch the winning draw!!
Walton finished on 16 not out with his brisk Cameo whilst Pittam consoled himself with an oxygen mask to get over the shock of being forced to run a three!!
An exciting end to a good game. Unfortunately, the weather played its part which hampered the Croft innings but again some good performances and “stick ability” in the game saw Croft finish with the upper hand.
Match Report by Mark Wood, 25/08/2018
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