Stony Stratford marked the half way point of the season with a relatively comfortable five wicket win at bottom of the table Burton Latimer on Saturday.
It put further distance between themselves in ninth and their opponents, but in truth Stony shouldn’t really be worrying about the sides below them and it’s their inconsistency to date which has left them glancing over the shoulders as the season has gone on.
Stony skipper Alex Strong returned to the side after missing last week’s defeat against Rushton and after winning the toss, he asked the home side to bat on a wicket that would be more accurately described as a dustbowl.
Stony quickly recognised that spin was going to be key and in fact only twelve overs of seam were bowled by Stony as they knocked Burton over for 159.
Steve Bellew got the ball rolling for Stony, grabbing the all important wicket of the highly dangerous Scott Sanders who drilled a drive straight to Tyler Lorton to depart for 5.
It was Lorton’s first contribution of the day, but definitely not the last as he went on to put in a fabulous all round performance for his side.
Bellew then trapped Tom Ablitt in front for 13 before Strong turned to spin.
Lorton turned the ball square from ball one with his leg spin and this was evident as he bowled Australian Hayden Morton around his legs whilst sweeping.
Opener Will Brewster remained at the crease and he and Luke Odell put together the best partnership of the day for their side to take the score to 89 before Brewster chipped one back to Lorton to fall for 31.
Odell soon followed, lbw to Bellew who had by now turned to left arm spin and was finding plenty of turn himself.
At 89-5, Burton were in real trouble, and with the ball turning more and more, they did pretty well to get to 159.
Bellew finished with 4-41 from 17, while Lorton bowled his best spell of the season to finish with 4-47.
Burton’s distinct lack of spin options would prove costly, with the wicket so easy to bat on against the seamers but still turning at right angles.
Stony raced to 81-0 in fifteen overs with Lorton again the start man for his side, bringing up a quick half century and hammering anything remotely over-pitched by the seamers.
Tom Moore (16) supported Lorton well before becoming the latest lbw victim, Jamie Delargy getting the breakthrough.
Over the next hour, 81-0 turned into 125-5 as Stony had their now customary collapse. James Pickles (1), Sean Rebbets (1) and Nick Allen (9) fell to the left arm spin of Morton, who bowled 17 overs for just 25 runs and when Lorton fell for an excellent 82, Burton had their tails up and a close finish seemed likely.
However, young all rounder Russell White showed great maturity under pressure to see off the threat of Morton before punishing the returning seamers.
He was joined by Jarrod Pretorius who helped relieve the pressure by playing in his usual positive fashion and the pair put on a quick 35 to see Stony home, White unbeaten on 31 at the end.
Stony’s season has been marked by a severe lack of runs, with Moore and the recent addition of Lorton the only two batsmen to find any real consistency.
They will hope to see more of young Northants stars ben Duckett and Vikram Sochal, alongside fellow former Stowe schoolboy Russell White as the season progresses.
If they can maintain their generally strong bowling performances and add some backbone to the batting, they can expect a stronger second half of the season.
They start with a tough trip to rivals Wollaston next week.
Stony 2nds drew their game at table toppers Rothwell to stay in fifth place.
Rothwell batted first and racked up 232-8 in their 50 overs.
Opener Paul Budworth was the dangerman for Rothwell and top scored with 77 while Kevin Wijesinghe took 3-72 for Stony.
In reply, Stony lost Karan Patra (3) and Chris Swain (0) early in the innings, but Chirs Guy’s valuable 44 settled the ship.
Stony were in little trouble but were behind the run-rate, despite Wijesinghe’s unbeaten 50 and an impressive display from number nine bat Sagar Shanghavi, who hit 23.
Adam Gasson took 3-45 for the visitors as they searched for the illusive final wickets, but Stony managed to hold out, ending their innings on 190-7.
Stony 2nds are on the road next week to take on relegation battling Earls Barton.