Bletchley get off and running

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BLETCHLEY claimed their first Cherwell League Division One win of the season at the fourth attempt on Saturday - and they did it in comprehensive fashion against Great & Little Tew.

It was an excellent performance from Bletchley’s seam attack, and an all-round performance by the talismanic James Sprittles which led Town to a six-wicket victory and 25 points, seeing them climb to eighth place in the table.

Tew, who thrashed basement boys Bourton Vale a week earlier, won the toss decided to bat first, maybe letting their confidence get the better of them.

The swirling wind made it very difficult for the batsmen early on as Sprittles and Saxon Wright probed to find a breakthrough. It came in the fifth over courtesy of an excellent piece of fielding by Wright whose accurate pick up and throw was far too good for Smith who was run out by some margin. This gave Bletchley the perfect tonic and the opening salvo from Sprittles and Wright soon had the visitors regretting their decision to bat first.

Fellow opener Dave Powles was bowled by Sprittles before Tew’s previous week centurion, Harry Chetwood, was cleaned up by an absolute beauty from Sprittles.

Keen to get in on the action, Wright then clean bowled Slatter and Shurmer to leave Tew in all sorts of trouble at 25-5. Bletchley were in dreamland after some injudicious shot selection from Tew saw them staring down the barrel.

The Oxfordshire side felt they would have a chance as long as the in-form Edmund Gross was in, and he looked in good touch despite the clatter of wickets around him. And so it continued, as with their score on 43, Wright fired a ball at Brock who could only fend it to Ramanadnanpulle at square leg. Wright had picked up 3-28 from 11 overs in a superb spell of bowling for the hosts.

Mark Roberts joined in on the action and in his first over got a wicket courtesy of a marvellous one-handed catch from Raj Lall in the gully. Tew’s disbelieving batsman trudged off with Tew at 56-7. It could have been worse had Clark held onto a chance at slip given by Gross off Sprittles, and the visitors simply struggled to contain a rampant Bletchley.

But it wasn’t long until Gross (30) was out as Roberts swung one to him which he could only edge to the gully region where Lall completed a more straight forward catch. At 69-8 Tew were nearly dead and buried, although a stand of 31 from Oxfordshire’s Matt Taylor (38) – who top scored for his team – and captain Andy Harris (11) gave them hope.

All of a sudden batting became a bit easier, and the pressure was released. Harris was out LBW to Roberts to give Bletchley a key breakthrough before another stand of 20 was ended by Sprittles who returned to bowl Taylor and send the visitors packing for just 120. Sprittles claimed 3-36 while Roberts continued his excellent form of late with 3-33 and Wright picked up 3-28.

Despite chasing a small total, it wasn’t going to be easy for the hosts as Tew themselves claimed a respected seam attack. And so it proved as Taylor bowled the in-form Matt Shepherd for just a single. And things became a bit more concerning for Bletchley when Lall and Smith followed in quick succession to Lloyd Brock to leave the home side teetering on 16-3.

Graham Simpson stoically dug in and found a willing ally in Sprittles. The stranglehold was broken by the latter who found the boundary with ease early on in his innings to relieve some of the pressure. With Simpson dropping anchor, Bletchley had reached 61 before Simpson was adjudged LBW to Tew captain Harris for 12. Sprittles was joined by Bletchley captain Clark, and after both survived vociferous appeals off the bowling of Joe White, the target began to be whittled down.

Sprittles made his half century with a cover drive for four, and in tandem with Clark made the largest stand of the game to take Bletchley home by six wickets with nearly 20 overs to spare.

Sprittles ended unbeaten on 58 and Clark played some trademark shots on his way to 35 not out as Bletchley closed on 124-4.

In Division Two, Wolverton lost their unbeaten start to the season as they went down to Tiddington by six wickets.

Batting first, Wolves only made 174-9 with Aky Hussain’s 75 their highlight. And that proved to be too little as Tiddington eased to victory on 175-4.

It proved an excellent day for Great Brickhill though as after their opening day defeat, they have now three on the spin.

Their latest success came by 77 runs against Banbury XX who hit a mere 118 in reply to Brickhill’s innings of 195.