After a rare win last week, Stony Stratford slumped to a tenth defeat of the season after going down by 105 runs to title chasing Old Northamptonians.
There was a sizeable crowd for the game which was played at Stony’s traditional home of Ostlers Lane, with Campbell Park unavailable due to the Northamptonshire one day cup fixture this Tuesday.
Alex Strong won the toss and to the surprise of some elected to bowl on what looked to be an excellent surface for batting. ON’s former county man Rob White certainly made himself at home, smashing 94 as the visitors posted 249-7.
Declaring as they did with only two overs to go was in some ways a nod to the excellent surface - Stony have made over 250 only once all year. Earlier, White proved to be the difference, rescuing what was otherwise a stuttering ON’s batting performance.
Stony bowled well in parts, with Russell White (2-33) and Steve Richardson (1-43) helping to claw the visitors back after they’d got off to a flyer.
White’s innings was to prove the difference here, with the rest of the ON’s side making starts but not being able to go on to anything higher than 32.
Stony have struggled with the bat all season but in fairness, there have been occasions when they have been undone by some very high quality bowling.
This was not one of them. By the 32nd over, Stony had 144 runs on the board and so were way ahead of the required rate.
Unfortunately they’d also lost all of their wickets, 5 of them to a 16 year old medium pacer who claimed the best figures of his fledgling career.
Tom Heathfield’s 5-38 ripped the heart out of the Stony innings, along with 4-54 from MCC Young cricketer Afaq Babar.
It’s probably not the best either of them has bowled this season, but on this occasion it proved easily good enough against Stony’s at times kamikaze approach to their innings.
The majority of the Stony players simply gave their wickets away rather than being undone by superior bowling and it’s this naive approach to Premier Division batting which has resulted in them fighting relegation this season, rather than sitting in mid table with other sides of comparative ability.
There were plenty of positive strokes and boundaries came thick and fast, but unfortunately so did the wickets.
Vicram Sohal (29) and Russell White (34) were the best Stony had to offer in a game they could have made much closer with a slightly more restrained approach to their chase.
Instead, they entertained and frustrated the Stony faithful in equal measures on another afternoon to forget.
Bottom side Burton Latimer lost for the twelfth time this season and only picked up a point in the process, so Stony increased the gap between them to 67 points, which with nine games to go looks unlikely to be closed. Stony face a difficult trip to Horton House on Saturday and will need to improve drastically with the bat to have any chance.
Meanwhile, the 2nds’ Division 2 title challenge continued with a brilliant 5 wicket win over promotion rivals St Crispins.
The home side had posted an excellent 238 all out - mainly thanks to 70 from Andrew Skelton.
Crucially, spells from Andrew Ellemore (3-46) and Roger Rebbetts (3-49) meant that the home side failed to bat their 50 overs, giving Stony three more in the chase.
Graham Simpson lead Stony home with four balls to spare with a brilliant 91 while Chris Swain scored a vital 69.