BLETCLEY Town made it back to back Cherwell League Division One victories with a thrilling two wicket win at Leighton Buzzard, with Saxon Wright playing a key role.
It was a fantastic team effort from Bletchley which saw them prevail with just one ball to spare in a nail-biting finish, despite a superb individual performance from Leighton’s Jack Kempster which had threatened to give the hosts the local bragging rights.
Bletchley skipper James Clark won the toss and elected to field, keen to exploit a similar reaction to the previous week’s demolition of Great & Little Tew.
Australian paceman Wright soon found a good rhythm and was beating the outside edge with regularity. Thompson soon fell, caught by Simpson, and more joy soon followed for Wright when he removed Leighton danger man Phil Whatmore for a duck with a ball that found his outside edge to ‘keeper James Ward.
And the hosts were soon three wickets down as Brazier’s breezy innings was ended by Wright as the opener hit tamely to point.
At 70-3 Bletchley were right in the game and it got better when Bishop (28) was trapped LBW by Clark and was followed by home captain Francis who hit Clark to cover to leave Leighton 76-5.
However, Kempster and Light began to get a foothold and the visitors were starting to run out of ideas, with Leighton now 146-5.
Jude Ramanadnanpulle began to work his craft though, with a magical spell that swung the game back in Bletchley’s favour. He tempted Light down the pitch to be stumped by Ward and then removed the lower order cheaply, despite the efforts of Kempster who was the last man out caught on the boundary for 89.
Ramanadnanpulle picked up 4-21 – his best figures at this level as Leighton were bundled out for 187. Wright’s recent improvement continued as he claimed 3-28 in 10 overs, and James Clark’s tidy 2-20 helped restrict Leighton.
Bletchley had to go all out for victory having won the toss and electing to field. Matt Shepherd and Graham Simpson initially struggled against the Leighton opening attack of Kempster and Priestly, and in the seventh over, Kempster removed Shepherd.
Raj Lall (14) and Simpson (21) continued and seemed to have weathered the early storm before disaster struck and both batsmen were dismissed.
This brought together Mark Grass and James Sprittles who began to accelerate the scoring rate, but just as Grass looked set to cut loose, he hit an innocuous Francis delivery to point for 16.
Clark followed quickly with a poor shot to backward point to be caught for just four and Bletchley were left at 98-5 with 19 overs left.
But enter James Ward, whose counter-attacking ability with the bat was the perfect tonic, as he and Sprittles took Bletchley to 141-5 in nine overs to set up a grandstand finish until disaster struck. After smashing a cover drive by Kempster for four, the next delivery from the Leighton bowler was short, and as Ward rocked back to pull it square, he was beaten for pace and the ball hit him in the face and knocked him over onto his stumps.
After a lengthy stoppage Ward was led from the field with blood pouring from his wound and out for 23. And the visitors then lost Ramanadnanpulle before James Sprittles was out caught-behind off Kempster for a superb 45.
With Bletchley 154-8, needing another 34 for victory from just seven overs, Leighton were the favourites to win.
Wright and Ian Smith were at the crease, but with Kempster (4-28) on fire, it was going to be a tough ask. However, the batsmen slowly whittled down their target with some good running between the wickets, helped when in the 44th over Smith hit the boundary twice with two crisp shots to give Bletchley a chance of victory.
Francis returned and bowled a maiden to Wright, meaning that Bletchley needed four to win off the final over. After scrambling two singles, Smith and Wright managed to get the required runs courtesy of leg-byes to send the visiting balcony into raptures.
Smith was unbeaten on 21 and Wright on seven to cap a fantastic team display, seeing Bletchley up to seventh in the table ahead of a home game against high-flying Cumnor on Saturday.