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THE soggy summer weather thwarted Bletchley Town’s efforts once again on Saturday – just as a grandstand finish was set up to conclude their encounter with Oxford & Bletchingdon Nondescripts at Manor Fields.
With 98 needed from the final 17 overs for Bletchley to win, it promised to be a tight and dramatic finish, but the thunderstorm at 6.30pm ruined both sides’ chances of picking up vital points as the game ended in a draw.
Nondies won the toss and decided to bat first on a good looking pitch, though they were soon in very early trouble as Bletchley skipper James Clark, opening the attack in place of the unavailable James Sprittles, struck with three wickets in his second over.
First of all Clark had Jon Guthrie plumb LBW, before Anthony Benson was caught by Kenny Hollis, and with the final delivery of the over he bowled danger-man Shabaz Alam to give Bletchley the dream start as Nondies hit 15-3.
A stand of 53 between the obdurate Tim Rattigan (33) and Nondies’ overseas player, Nick Duxon (34) put their innings back on track, and runs seemed to flow easily on a good pitch with a fast outfield.
Wasim Fayyaz then replaced Clark in the attack, and Ricardo Brown, making his first start for the first team this season, replaced Mark Roberts as the home side opted for an all-spin attack. It was Fayyaz who made the breakthrough though, bowling Duxon before Brown quickly removed James Holton to leave Nondies on 72-5.
Aftab Alam managed to survive two or three good shouts for LBW before opting to take a more aggressive approach, but when Brown dismissed Rattigan and Chris Day LBW in the same over, the visitors were in big trouble at 95-7.
However, Alam (47 from 45 balls) and Ayaz Khan (32) decided that attack was the best form of defence and began to break the shackles – hitting both spinners out of the attack. Mark Roberts returned from the far end and Graham Simpson replaced Fayyaz to try and stem the flow.
Alam was next out for 47, which included two 6s and six 4s, when he hit Simpson to Clark at cover. Roberts bowled Khan soon after to leave Nondies on 173-9.
Even then though, the visitors continued to attack and Zia Hamid (39 not out) played shots that belied his position of a number 10 in partnership with the experienced Sanjay Vinjimoor (11) to propel Nondies to 214 all out before Simpson combined again with Clark to wrap up the innings.
Bletchley would have been disappointed to let their opponents off the hook having had them at 95-7, but credit must go to the Nondies lower order that performed with credit. For Town, Brown (3-25) was the pick of the bowlers, backed up by Clark (3-45) and Simpson (2-37).
Bletchley, missing opener Paul Strong through injury, promoted Lee Taylor to open with Matt Shepherd, and he set about the task with aplomb, dealing in boundaries as Nondies struggled to find their rhythm.
Shepherd picked out cover when he got a shortish ball from Hamid and was on his way for just 6. Raj Lall departed cheaply, but Taylor continued to blast away at the other end, hitting 47 in just 37 balls, including 10 4s, before he needlessly ran himself out to leave Town on 78-3.
Simpson (28 not out) began slowly but was just finding his range alongside Hollis (18 not out) before the rain came and washed out the remainder of the match.
With Nondies missing their off-spinner, Bletchley fancied their chances of taking all 25 points, but for the second week running they were defeated by the elements. It was their fourth home match in succession that play has been curtailed by rain.
But they play yet another home game in a quirk of the fixture list this Saturday when they entertain the flamboyant Oxford Downs at Manor Fields, needing a win to get themselves out of the lower reaches of the league table, with only Banbury 2nds keeping them off the foot.
>> Great Brickhill were also frustrated by the rain as they had to settle for a winning draw in their match against Great & Little Tew.
Brickhill made 281-5 off 53 overs thanks to great knocks from Graeme Carter (87), Doug Aris (81) and Andy Ward (61). Great & Little Tew were then seven wickets down on 204 when the game came to an end, leaving Brickhill fifth in Division One ahead of their trip to Oxford & Bletchingdon Nondescripts.
Wolverton Town suffered their second defeat of the season when promotion rivals Twyford secured a three-wicket home win.
The visiting Wolves made 180 thanks to a splendid knock from Atif Alhlaq (76) who had support from Mastoor Maja (31). But it wasn’t enough as Twyford crossed the line in 44 overs on 184-7, despite the efforts of Mohammed Shahzad (3-78).
That defeat leaves Wolverton down in fifth place ahead of a trip to the side immediately above them in the table, Tiddington.
Table toppers Wolverton Town 2nds were on the end of a losing draw to Twyford 2nds, meaning their lead at the summit has been cut to 20 points.
Twyford opened up with a score of 198 as home bowlers Glenn Dickinson (5-68) and Steve King (4-60) got Wolves off to a great start. And their side looked on course for a win as they reached 136-4 in 32 overs before the rain came down to stop play early, with Zack Wade (69 not out) probably the most frustrated man.
Great Brickhill 2nds (57) thumped lowly Cropredy 2nds (54) by 10 wickets to climb to third place in the table, as Bletchley Town 2nds (97) lost out to Oxford & Bletchingdon Nondescripts 2nds (100-4) by six wickets.
STONY Stratford picked up their fifth win of what is proving to be an excellent season as they thumped Rushton by 125 runs on their own patch.
Their victory – inspired by a sensational knock of 104 from Ian Sandbrook – leaves Stony third in the table, just ahead of league champions Finedon Dolben, but well adrift of the two sides leading the way this year, Northampton Saints and Peterborough.
But for Stony last season’s woes look to be a thing of the past and they can now look forward to the likes of Saturday’s fixture at struggling Burton Latimer with confidence of picking up another win.
It was just as well that Sandbrook found his fantastic form as most of those around him struggled – with number eight Steve Bellew Stony’s next highest scorer on 22 as the visitors went on to set a target of 220-9 from their 55 overs.
Despite Sandbrook’s efforts that was an average total to defend, but fortunately for Stony they found another hero in Habib Ullah whose sensational spell of 4-18 saw the Rushton tail blown away after George Humphries (2-23) and Bellew (3-43) had worked their magic earlier on.
Only number six Dean Joy (38) worried Stony as Rushton’s top three batsmen all departed for a grand total of two runs, and the home side went on to reach just 95 in reply, consigning them to just a third defeat this season.
Stony 2nds are also enjoying their year, but can unstuck against Weekley & Warkton and fell to a 137-run defeat.
The visitors were indebted to Sam Palmer whose 100 not out set them on their way to 229-4, with Aaron Ashton (2-42) the best of the Stony bowlers.
The home side offered little in reply, with Rob Arnold (25) the best of a bad bunch as Stony were downed for just 92, seeing them drop to fourth place in the table after a fine start to the season.
It was also a day to forget for Stony 3rds who succumbed to a 126-run defeat away to bottom side Ashby Timken, dropping them to fourth place in the table.
The hosts reached an impressive 251-3 declared after 41 overs, before wasting no time in dismissing Stony for 125, with Asad Masroor top scoring on 32 once Ashby’s Jon Hill (3-14) had seen off the visitors’ top three in a devastating start to their reply.
four counties league
MK CITY’S domination of the top division continued on Saturday when they edged past lowly Eaton Bray by a single wicket.
Visitors Bray were dispatched for a mere 142 and another win looked comfortably on the cards for a City side with a near 100 per cent record so far this year.
But it wasn’t that simple as the top four home batsmen all departed in single figures under pressure from Andrew Norris (3-22) in particular.
In fact the revival didn’t come until late in the day as number eight Asif Iqbal arrived at the crease to lead City to victory. He fired off an unbeaten 59 to save the day – getting the hosts over the line on 146-9 in 42 overs.
That dramatic win extended City’s lead at the top of the table to 41 points thanks to a rare and shock defeat for North Crawley at the hands of struggling Olney Town by just five runs.
Olney hit 152-7, thanks mainly to Stuart Keeping’s 42 and a couple of good knocks down the order by Christian Smail (30) and Mike Brown (26 not out).
That was well within Crawley’s reach and they looked on course to secure maximum points when Glenn Young (64) started to hit top form. But when he departed the home side crashed from 133-5 to 147 all out with that man Keeping the hero as he returned 5-26 to destroy the lower order.
Newport Pagnell have climbed to third place in the table by continuing their superb form with a 164-run thrashing of Eggington Foresters.
Paul Braddy (82) and Brian Schmidt (65) made up for some otherwise poor Newport batting as the hosts hit 218. Only number 10 Sam Chapman (10 not out) also made it into double figures.
It mattered not though as Eggington were blown apart by Newport trio Gary Hefferon (4-21), Brian Schmidt (3-10) and Chapman (3-18) in crashing to just 54 in reply.
New Bradwell’s dismal season shows no signs of improving as they lost to Elstow by four wickets, keeping them holding up the rest of the division.
They set a reasonable 171 thanks to an excellent opening knock of 72 from Andy Overton, but Elstow responded well to make 172-6 with Stewart Chapman (3-14) the best of the bowlers.
New City (119-4) saw off Milton Keynes (118) by six wickets – Ashish Ratia leading the scoring on 41 after good spells by Amit Mulay (4-23) and Arshad Mahmood (4-20).
Cranfield University’s promotion push is gathering pace after their 188-run thumping of Aspley Guise, leaving them second in the table.
Cranfield reached 254-9 – led by Karthik Nallamuthu’s knock of 60 – and the visitors were sent packing for just 66 in reply, with Jason Muller (5-5) the star of the show.
Old Bradwell (161) went down by 84 runs to Biddenham (245-8) and Open University (151-8) saw off Buckland & Aston Clinton (150-9) by just a single run.
Willen (208-3) continue to lead the way in the third tier, but they were held to a draw by Stewkley Vicarage (102-7). Sam Marley fired off a fantastic 107 for the table toppers.
Stoke Hammond (162) saw off Bromham (126) by 36 runs, while New Bradwell 2nds (132) suffered an eight-wicket thumping at the hands of Caddington (135-2) and North Crawley’s trip to Shenley Church End was a victim of the weather – abandoned after the former had made 136-5 in reply to Shenley’s innings of 167-8.
Westcroft (217-2) enjoyed an eight-wicket win against Ivinghoe & Pitstone (213) while New City 2nds (203-8) beat Crawley Green (202-9) by two wickets and Milton Keynes 2nds (128) fell to Tring Park 4ths (129-9) by one wicket.
Great Brickhill 3rds (166-7) remain top of the pile after their three-wicket victory over Stony Stratford 4ths (165-8).
Old Bradwell 2nds (125) went down to North Crawley 3rds (127-7) by three wickets and the match between Olney Town 2nds (214-7) and Newport Pagnell 2nds (48) was abandoned.
Bletchley Town 3rds (138-9) lost to Wing (139-7) by three wickets as Wolverton Town 3rds (44-9) went down to Buckland & Aston Clinton 2nds (100) by 56 runs.
mk midweek league
MK Azad (89-4) beat Santander (88-8) by six wickets, Stony Stratford (97-6) lost to MK United (98-4) also by six wickets, and Friends United (86-9) lost out to Wolverton Hawks (89-2) by eight wickets.
Stoke Hammond (144-8) beat MK Azad 2nds (82) by 62 runs as Dial Square (148-8) lost to Open University (149-2) by eight wickets.