Off the back of our first league defeat of the season the Croft bandwagon trundled its way down the road to the picturesque location of Hanbury, to play Astwood Bank 4ths.
Team for the day saw 3 changes from last week’s team with the debut of Yash, the return of Stu Walton and first appearance of the season for young Matt Athey to swell the talented Croft ranks
The all-important toss was won by the Avoncroft skipper who sagaciously chose to offer the opposition first crack at batting on a strip that looked decidedly bowler friendly.
The decision to bowl saw quick dividends as the opening pair of Ward and Wilkes quickly had the home team on the back front. Wilkes with his staccato run up and nibble of ball was as miserly as ever. Ward from the other end complimented his veteran partner keeping the ball, for the most part, in that corridor of uncertainty.
The Astwood bank pair struggled to make any headway against the tight bowling and with the arable outfield and soon the pressure told with Ward snagging Johnson for 7.
One wicket should have become two when Ward induced a false shot which floated gently to skipper Wood to pouch. However, the Skipper for some unknown reason decided to take an existential view on the opportunity, treating it like a leaping salmon, and the ball thus slipped through his bereft fingers!!
Howls of derision a plenty quickly ensued, led by chief Choirmaster Huxley much to the consternation of said skipper who disconsolately sloped off to his position offering a muted apology to the askance bowler!!
A change of bowling however quickly saw further wickets tumble with young Matt Athey at the one end complimented by Skipper Wood to bring some flight and guile to the frame. It was Athey who struck first removing the opening Brind for 11 and then removed Cockbull for no score in the same over.
Wood then came to the party firstly dismissing Ross and then quickly snapping up a further two wickets to leave the hosts struggling on 40 for 6.
Wood rang the changes again, introducing the “Falstaffian” Holyoake and the “Windmill” Pittam to wrap up the tail. Holyoake proceeded to bowl at a tremendous military medium pace threatening the outside edge on several occasions before snagging Summers for no score.
Pittam was inducing some tweak and mystery to the proceedings quickly dismissing Drumm who decided to take a violent slash on the offside (……you just can’t do that sort of thing on a cricket pitch!!) and was suitably bowled. Young Athey then produced a magnificent piece of fielding to affect a very smart run out with a direct hit.
Pittam, arms whirling like a dervish then wrapped up the innings inducing the batsmen down the wicket to result in him being stumped by Huxley after playing several shots, closing the innings on 57 all out. All the bowlers acquitted themselves well with Athey 2 for 5; Pittam 2 for 2 and Wood 3 for 10 being the leading wicket takers.
In reply Verma and Huxley were first up to bat for Croft and the first wicket soon fell as Verma mistimed a full toss straight down mid on’s throat.
“Apples” Apperley then joined the fray and batting with patience against some impressive spin bowling built the innings slowly with Huxley to 37 before being caught at midwicket for 15 off the bowling of Summers.
Stu “Wally” Walton meandered his way to the crease and along with Huxley patiently saw the Croft team over the line for a well-deserved 8 wicket victory, Huxley finishing on 29 not out and Walton 7 not out.
Overall a pleasing performance, especially with the bowling and fielding which set the tone for the victory. Special mention to young Matt Athey on his two wickets and excellent run out which played a key role in dismissing the hosts so cheaply.
The next game see’s the 2’s return back to home pastures to face the unknown team of Wyre Foresters in good heart and spirits
Match Report by Mark Wood, 28/05/2019
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