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four counties league
THE sun returned to Milton Keynes on Saturday, but it has pretty much been shining on MK City all season as they look on course to clinch the Division One crown this summer.
While other teams may point to an above average number of games being cancelled this year, City have still been head and shoulders above the rest in the Four Counties top flight, and their 116-run win over New City maintained what is a near faultless record in 2012.
Put into bat by New City, Chris Timms (56) led the way for the home side who reached 219-7 – a score boosted by a good knock from number seven Jason Loveland who hit 41 not out.
But Pete Heady would prove to be the match-winner, claiming 3-14 in 10 overs to help restrict New City to just 103 in reply. Credit to Harsh Jethra who made a fine 34 not out at number seven, but he found little support as the visitors were well beaten, staying in mid-table.
North Crawley are MK City’s biggest challengers to the title and maintained the pace with a comfortable six-wicket victory at home to Eggington Foresters.
Put into bat, the visitors were done and dusted for just 87 thanks to some inspired bowling from Richard Bryce (4-14), Dean Bryce (2-11) and Robin Platten (2-14) as Crawley took control of proceedings.
They were made to work slightly hard for their win though as the top four fell without reaching double figures, but in came Alex Walker (33 not out) and Mick Howe (32 not out) to fire Crawley home on 92-4, keeping them 46 points adrift of MK City at the top.
At the wrong end of the table, New Bradwell remain rooted to the bottom without a win to their name, and they missed their chance to pick up some much needed points when their home fixture against Newport Pagnell was cancelled.
Elsewhere Milton Keynes were on the end of a surprise four-wicket home loss to Eaton Bray as their poor run of form continues.
Only Grant Ebrahim was able to hold his head high as he struck 48 not out to help the hosts limp to just 129. That was never likely to be enough and Bray won the day on 131-6, despite the efforts of that man Ebrahim again (3-20) and Joe Fairbrother (2-25).
Olney Town (49) went down to third placed Elstow (50-3) by seven wickets after Richard Beardshaw top scored for the hosts on just 14.
CRANFIELD University still have one eye on the top two promotion places, but they lost ground on Saturday when they went down to Buckland & Aston Clinton by three wickets.
Put into bat, Cranfield were seen off for a mere 68 – Jason Muller their top scorer on just 24 – but they almost hit back for a dramatic victory as Rajeev Verma (3-8) led the fightback.
However, the damage had been done and Buckland crossed the winning line on 72-7, keeping Cranfield fourth in the table.
Directly above them are Aspley Guise (184-6) who saw off Open University (182-7) by four wickets. One man very unlucky to be on the losing side was Sardar Ahmad who hit an unbeaten 84.
Elsewhere Old Bradwell (120-9) held on for a losing draw against Studham (139), with Danny Gascoyne (3-18) and Graham Downard (39 not out) the best of the Bradwell bunch as they remain in mid-table.
WITH Willen having the week off, Stoke Hammond (107-3) took advantage to climb to the top of the table courtesy of a seven-wicket win over New Bradwell 2nds (103).
Shenley Church End (30) were on the end of a 84-run thrashing by Stewkley Vicarage (114-8). Nick Rogers claimed 3-13 for Shenley before they completely collapsed with the bat as only Richard Fletcher (12) made double figures.
MILTON Keynes 2nds will still consider themselves in the promotion running, but they had to settle for a winning draw against Eaton Bray 2nds.
Ben Warren top scored on 55 as MK reached 191-8, but they couldn’t quite seal the deal as Bray held on with 80-9.
New City 2nds (125) went down to Harlington (147-7) by 22 runs, while Westcroft (169-8) were two-wicket winners against Printers (168-8).
IT looks like North Crawley 3rds and Great Brickhill 3rds will slug it out for the second promotion place behind Drayton Parslow – and at the moment it’s advantage Crawley.
Kiran Singh (89) led them to a total of 241-5 against Brickhill, and their victory was secured by Kamran Bahra (4-13) as the visitors were bowled out for 61 to give Crawley a 180-run win and second place in the table.
Newport Pagnell 2nds (170-9) lost to Milton Bryan 2nds (171-7) by three wickets and Stony Stratford 4ths (97) went down to Wing (155-6) by 58 runs.
WOLVERTON Town 3rds (191) suffered a five-wicket defeat to Caddington 2nds (192-5), keeping them one off the foot of the table, while MK City 2nds lead the way at the top but had the weekend off.
The games involving Bletchley Town 3rds and Stoke Hammond 2nds were both cancelled.
AFTER two successive washouts due to the wet weather, Bletchley Town’s return to action saw them slump to a six wicket defeat at fellow strugglers Cumnor after a desperate batting performance saw them dismissed for their lowest total in over a decade.
Despite being short of several key players, Bletchley arrived at Cumnor in good spirits after recent performances belied the league position. On winning the toss, James Clark had no hesitation in batting first on a dry pitch – so dry that Cumnor opted to open the bowling with one of their spinners, Adam Cook.
Bletchley began serenely enough as Paul Strong and Matt Shepherd took the score onto 16 in the first six overs before Strong was out LBW to Carl Thompson.
In the following over, Raj Lall was unfortunate when his defensive prod to Cook spun back out off the pitch and onto his stumps, dislodging one bail. Abs Premnath joined Shepherd and they seemed in relative comfort as the hosts were forced into bowling changes.
The score had reached 29 before Premnath was harshly adjudged LBW to left-armer Dave Harris for 8. Town skipper Clark was then bowled first up to an in-swinging yorker by Harris to leave the visitors teetering.
Shepherd remained defiant at the other end as Bletchley’s middle and lower order simply capitulated to the bowling of Ali Morteza, who recorded astonishing figures of 4-3 in 5.4 overs, as he removed Houpe, Talbot and Roberts cheaply, whilst Miles Hammond clean bowled both Ramandanpulle and Mark Grass who both should have been forward to fuller deliveries.
Bletchley had collapsed from 38-4 to 47 all out – losing their last six wickets for just nine runs when Shepherd (18) became Morteza’s fourth LBW victim in a devastating spell as Bletchley were rolled out for just 47.
It was Bletchley’s lowest total since a similar embarrassment against Radlett back in 2000, but that was in the Home Counties Premier League.
With such a meagre total on board, Bletchley had to begin well, and in the third over Mark Roberts struck when he uprooted Lee’s leg stump. In his next over he had Lake out played on.
Runs were coming from the other end in the guise of Morteza, who must have enjoyed his day as he slogged a quick 32, including four 4s and two 6s in 20 balls.
Roberts still had enough time to have Adam Cook adjudged LBW for a single, before as the scores levelled, Morteza snicked off for a match-winning 32.
When the inevitable came via a leg bye, Bletchley had somehow clawed back four points thanks to Roberts who showed plenty of fight in taking 4-16 as he swung the ball late to devastating effect.
But the damage had been done, and as well as Cumnor bowled, it was the lack of runs which cost Bletchley, who now find themselves bottom of the pile ahead of this Saturday’s crucial home match with near neighbours Great Brickhill at Manor Fields.
>> Brickhill remain on course for a mid-table finish in their first season in the top flight after a four-wicket win at Buckingham Town.
After last week’s disappointing winning draw against bottom club Banbury 2nds, Brickhill were keen to get back to winning ways in what has proven to be a washout summer.
The wicket looked in good shape for the batsmen, and the outfield looked quick as it dried in the sun, but Brickhill elected to bowl first – skipper Graeme Carter expecting the conditions to improve as the afternoon went on.
And the bowlers were doing the trick early on, taking regular wickets and bowling a tight line to restrict the home side’s scoring.
Knocks of 51 from Sam Keegan and a valuable 44 from Ben Laycock helped steer Buckingham to 189 all out, with Garth Davson (4-49), Nick Tweed (3-35), Doug Aris (3-37) doing the damage for the visitors.
Brickhill got off to a solid start and were making good progress as they chased 190 to win in reply.
Carter was unlucky to fall three shy of his half century on 47, while Davson added to his four wickets by hitting 39, while Greg MacDonald was unbeaten on 43 as Brickhill eased to a four-wicket victory.
WOLVERTON Town climbed up to fourth place with a 26-run victory against Long Marston thanks mainly to the efforts of Ash Rayf who returned 6-25.
Wolves were dismissed for just 92 in 23 overs, but Rayf produced his superb spell to get Long Marston out for 66 in reply.
WOLVERTON Town 2nds remain top of the table, but were held to a winning draw by Long Marston – the visitors making 93-8 in reply to Wolves’ 119.
Great Brickhill 2nds (229-1) saw off Didcot 2nds (105) by 124 runs to stay second in the table.
STONY Stratford slipped from third to sixth in the table courtesy of a shock defeat to bottom side Horton House.
It’s been a very good first half of the season for the men from Ostlers Lane, and after bowling out the home side for just 123, it should have got even better.
However, Stony collapsed in dramatic fashion as Nick Allen top scored on just 21, with the visitors falling for a rather embarrassing 68 in 31 overs.
Steve Bellew had returned superb figures of 6-18 to blast Horton House out early on, and then chipped in with 9 runs with the bat.
But the problem for Stony was that made him their second highest scorer, with Arjun Jhala (5-13) doing the most damage.
Stony Stratford 2nds (116-8) were on the end of a losing draw at home to Overstone Park (161-8) in Division Two and Stony 3rds (80) lost to Weekley & Warkton (81-2) by eight wickets in Division Six.