Villagers target national glory

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GREAT Brickhill are gearing up for another big National Village Knockout Cup tie on Sunday as they welcome Bledlow Village in the Buckinghamshire regional group final.

Brickhill have navigated their way through three rounds to get to this stage, and victory against Bledlow will see them take on the winners of the Essex and Suffolk regional group final in the next stage, with the ultimate prize a final at Lord’s in September.

Victory over Aston Rowant on Saturday saw Brickhill keep their second place in Cherwell League Division Two, while Bledlow have also enjoyed a strong start to the season, sitting second in Division Three going into the game.

And to add some extra spice to the occasion, Brickhill will be out for revenge for their league defeat to Bledlow last season when the south Bucks side became the first to beat Brickhill in two years.

This is the first year Brickhill have entered the National Village Cup and they will certainly go into Sunday’s game in good form having thrashed Aston Rowant by seven wickets last time out.

Skipper Graeme Carter won the toss and decided to bowl first. The pitch was dry and flat – a perfect invitation for Rowant’s openers to gorge themselves on runs.

Charging in with his familiar run-up, Pete Hastings opened the bowling with excellent pace and aggression, while his partner in crime Nick Tweed swung the ball like an expert snake charmer as the pair combined to leave Aston Rowant 19-3 off eight overs.

Aston’s middle order batted on with patience, hitting bad ball at every opportunity. Doug Aris then entered the arena and was immediately on the money as he caused mayhem by claiming four more wickets.

Aris was supported by Julian Blackwell at the other end, but it was the inspiring glove work of wicket keeper, Paul Little and several diving stops from Andy Ward that frustrated the Rowant batsmen as the visitors were put to bed for 183, with the resolute Paul Plumridge finishing on 75 not out. Aris returned 4-67 and Blackwell 3-36.

In reply, Anton De Beer and Arran Aris opened the batting against some fiery early bowling. They batted with responsibility and assurance to put some early runs on the board, with De Beer in particular smashing off some beautiful drives.

The duo soon brought up a 50 partnership and looked as though they might take Brickhill over the finishing line for no wicket. That wasn’t to be though, with De Beer given out LBW for a well-crafted innings of 49 and Aris was caught for 47.

This brought skipper Carter and Colin Davson to the crease, and after some early blocking, both batsmen quickly decided it was time to bring out the scoring shots and started to accumulate runs, quickly taking their score past the 150 mark.

As Rowant changed tactics, an accurate delivery bowled Carter (39) but it was too little too late for them as Davson (28 no) and Doug Aris (6 no) finished the job.

The win sees Brickhill move to within touching distance of table toppers Long Marston, but it’s the National Village Cup tie against Bledlow on Sunday (1pm start) that is now on Brickhill minds.

Division Two rivals Wolverton sit half way up the table but lost out to leaders Long Marston on Saturday.

Wolves have enjoyed a decent start to the campaign but came firmly unstuck away against the Hertfordshire side who set 234-8, with Lyons (82) leading the line for the hosts.

In reply Wolves were downed for just 141, despite the efforts of Matt Baker who hit a creditable 52 runs, as McLeman (5-61) and Beesley (4-30) did the damage to secure a 93-run victory.

In Division Six Wolverton 2nds were narrowly beaten by Oxford & Bletchingdon 2nds by 29 runs.

Zack Wade top scored on 56 as Wolves reached just 200 in reply to the visitors’ 229-9, with Glen Dickinson’s 4-44 the pick of the bowling figures.

Bletchley 2nds top the division and saw off their Great Brickhill counterparts by 92 runs after the hosts set a target of 222 declared.