Stony Stratford’s NCL Premier Division season got off to a less than ideal start away at perennial title contenders Finedon Dolben on Saturday.
It was something of a strange game, not least because part of the Avenue Road ground was under water which resulted in one boundary being little over 25 yards. It was also odd because on a wet wicket which was less than ideal for batting, well over 400 runs were scored on a day when most of the bowlers struggled.
With regular Stony captain Alex Strong missing the opening game because of a holiday, Graham Simpson took over and having won the toss, sent the home side in to bat on a very wet and green surface. 50 overs later,
Finedon declared on 252 for 2 with former Northants opener Ben Howgego unbeaten on a run a ball 154. Stony, who actually bowled tidily despite the score, were left to regret dropping Howgego on 6 in just the third over and then again on 60 as he found his feet.
He didn’t give another chance in the end as he pounced on anything loose or short and found the short boundary on a regular basis. Stony had some early success, with newcomer Jilesh Pattni finding the edge of Andy Daniel’s bat to send the opener on his way for 8.
Fellow opener Steve Bellew kept things tight but couldn’t find the breakthrough and then Howgego and Greg Evans (82) set about building what was a huge total in the conditions.
Youngsters Aaron Ashton and Hayden Mullins both bowled effectively in patches, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Finedon racking up the runs.
In contrast to the Finedon batsmen, Stony’s top order just couldn’t get to grips with the wicket or the swing of Will Sneath. Sneath’s opening spell of 4-15 wrecked the Stony top order, with the visiting side finding some new and inventive ways of getting themselves out.
When Bellew was out for 11, partner Ed Tate was on 0 and the score was 49 for 8 and Stony were facing humiliation.
However, in the space of 45 minutes, this unusual game was once again turned on it’s head as Tate hit the accelerator and flew from 0 to 50 in less than 30 balls. He was joined by Jarrod Pretorius, batting at ten after dislocating a finger in the field earlier in the day and Pretorius was equally up for a fight.
The pair put on 101 for the ninth wicket in a highly entertaining spell, and with nine overs left there was a glimmer of hope that Stony might hang on for an unlikely share of the spoils.
Tate looked unlucky to perish lbw for 54, giving Sneath a well deserved fifth wicket.
Last man Ashton supported Pretorius well for a few overs as he passed 50, but in the end, the youngster’s defences were broken and Stony were left well adrift on 172.
Stony will welcome back skipper Strong and young all rounder Russell White next week. Despite the one sided nature of the result, Stony dug in well at times and showed some real spirit against what is a very strong Finedon unit. But the batting in particular will need to improve quickly, beginning with the visit of Burton Latimer on Saturday.
Stony 2nds game against Brigstock at Campbell Park was called off without a ball being bowled with the ground under water on Saturday morning.
The 3rds did play, but like the 1sts they struggled in their opening game against Kislingbury Temperance. Kislingbury batted first and posted 167 all out, with Neil Fewtrell (3 for 38) and Russell Moore (4 for 39) bowling well on the opening day for Stony.
Unfortunately, Stony weren’t able to bat as well as they bowled and fell short of their target on 125, with only Nabeel Ahmed’s 47 giving the home side any worries.
Stony 4ths rounded off a difficult opening weekend with a comprehensive defeat against Little Horwood. Horwood posted 243 for 5 from 43 overs and this proved far too much for Stony who were all out for 110.