Stony Stratford needed a helping hand to finally secure their Premier Division status on Saturday after what has been their most difficult season in the top flight of the Northants Cricket League.
Stony were predictably obliterated at newly crowned champions Peterborough, falling to a 148 run defeat after being bowled out for just 64 – the latest in a long line of batting disasters which have almost cost Stony their place in the top division this year.
Fortunately for Stony, bottom side Burton Latimer’s brave attempt to close the gap on Stony came to an end after an equally crushing 8 wicket defeat at Old Northamptonians left them facing the prospect of Division One cricket next season.
Whilst Stony’s batting has been the root cause of their woeful summer, they have been saved by their efforts with the ball and most notably those of skipper Alex Strong.
His form in the second half of the season has put Stony in several potentially match winning situations, few of which have been converted – but he’s now recognised as one of the league’s premier pace men. His four wickets against Peterborough took his tally for the summer to 34 and had the champs wobbling at 90-6.
That they made 212 in the end was again typical of Stony’s summer – as was their capitulation to 64 all out, albeit against one of the best club sides in the country. Stony have struggled for runs all summer, with Hayden Mullins 450 being the best of the bunch.
It’s this Achilles heel which needs addressing swiftly over the winter if Stony are going to avoid another battle to stay up next summer.
In the final analysis, Stony have struggled desperately in a league which has dramatically improved over the last two seasons. With some clubs prepared to part with eye watering amounts of money to secure the services of professional and in some cases amateur players, Stony now face a choice to either follow suit or find another way to compete.
They’ve also lost some key players to injury and unavailability and with other clubs markedly strengthening, it’s produced a perfect storm which Stony have done well to get out of. For now…
Stony 2nds have had a much better season than their 1st XI counterparts but their campaign ended on a disappointing note with a 30 run defeat by relegated Long Buckby. With little left to play for, Stony fielded a side that could best be described as ‘experimental’.
The visitors took full advantage and posted 232 from just under 50 overs. Stony fell short in reply despite 69 from Sai Ravikumar.
Stony were in contention to be promoted for much of the season and much of this was off the back of two excellent individual performances – Josh Whitehead’s 28 wickets and skipper Chris Swain’s 422 runs the highlights of a solid season for his side.
Finally, there was last game heartbreak for the 3rd XI who were denied promotion from Division 5 on the last day after falling to a 56 run defeat at Rushton 2nds.
With local rivals Wicken winning earlier in the day, Stony needed to win to secure promotion but having restricted the home side to 160, Stony got nowhere near in reply, falling to just 104 all out.
Third is still an excellent result for a side that was playing in Division 9 just a few years ago. Stony’s success this year was built around their excellent attack.
Veterans Neil Fewtrell and Michael Brown took 91 wickets between them, whilst 16 year off spinner Ben Arnold showed his immense promise this season with 30 league wickets.