STONY Stratford put successive Northants League Premier Division defeats behind them with a highly impressive 32-run victory at Old Northamptonians on Saturday.
Injuries and unavailability issues saw Stony go into the game without Ian Sandbrook and attack bowler Habib Ullah, with young debutant Tom Moore making the step up to the first team following some fine early season form.
Dave Avery came in to replace Ullah and would go on to lead the visitors to victory.
Stony lost the toss and were asked to bat on what looked to be a green wicket. Opener batsmen Sharn Gomes and Mihir Choksi got their side off to a decent start, before Choksi got cleaned bowled by young speedster Afaq Baber, leaving the score at 26-1.
What followed was a top order collapse with Richard Scott and Moore failing to score before losing their wickets. And with the score at 3-3, Stony were in a bit of trouble, but with Nick Allen and Gomes at the crease they both dug deep.
Nick scored a fine 30 before he was trapped LBW by Martyn Cory, bringing Jarrod Pretorius to the crease. 2011 has not been a great for Jarrod so far, but with the score at 94-4 he needed to find the form that had been so present during the previous year,
Jarrod supported Gomes as he made a half century, before Gomes got out trying to play his trademark sweep shot, stumped by George Arblaster for 54, Stony now 116-5.
Pretorius kept the scoreboard ticking over, and with some support from the lower order took the score to 160-7. Andrew Humphries joined Pretorius and together the pair put on a much needed 53 runs for the eighth wicket. The partnership also saw Pretorius bringing up a very well earned half century.
With 213 runs now on the board Pretorius decided to try and up the run rate, but was soon caught for 58. Skipper Steve Bellew and Humphries saw out the rest of the inning leaving Stony a respectable 239-8 from their 55 overs, with Humphries finishing on 36 not out and Bellew nine unbeaten.
For once Gomes didn’t lead the scoring for Stony as Pretorius hit 58, although the South African was not far behind on 54.
Stony started well in the hosts’ reply with Avery leading from the front with four quick wickets which left Old Northamptonians in bother on 28-4.
Following this positive opening session a confident Stony felt a sure that victory was within reach. However, ONs fought back with Tom Hafil and skipper Tom Webb improving their score from 80-7 to 155-8, leaving the outcome back in the balance, but with the visitors still big favourites.
With just two wickets needed to win Stony lost concentration and ONs capitalised with youngster Afaq Baber taking them past 200. But with only 30 runs needed and one wicket still remaining, captain Bellew made the decisive decision to bring Avery back on, and he soon did the business to bowl the hosts out for 207, giving Stony victory by 32 runs.
That was largely due to the stand out performance from Avery who finished with figures of 5-32 off 14 overs, lifting Stony to fifth place in the table ahead of a home match against bottom side Horton House on Saturday. A fourth success of the season could see Stony go as high as third.
In Division Two Stony’s 2nds lost to Finedon Dolben 2nds by 35 runs, seeing them drop to ninth in the table.
Having successfully restricted Finedon to 172 in their 50 overs, Stony failed to capitalise with the bat and were bowled out for 137 in reply. They will hope for better on Saturday but face a tough looking trip to Weekley & Warkton.
In Division Six Stony’s 3rds saw off Old Northamptonians 4ths by seven wickets, with Harsh Jethra the star of the show after getting five wickets and 44 not out. That win sees Stony move up to third in the table, but they will face a huge test of their promotion credentials when they go to league leaders Badby on Saturday.