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PAUL Strong’s accomplished 90 not out for Bletchley Town guided his side’s comfortable 72 run win over local rivals Great Brickhill.
Strong batted all 53 overs of Town’s innings of 211-7, a total the away team were confident of defending - even on the small ground at Rotten Row.
With regular captain James Clark absent, vice-skipper James Sprittles led Bletchley on the day and he called correctly at the toss, deciding his side would bat first. Tidy spells by opening bowlers Nick Tweed and Lee Morgan made scoring difficult for Town and Matt Shepherd (4) perished to Morgan trying to up the run rate with just 6 on the scoreboard.
Raj Lall joined Strong out in the middle and the pair compiled an excellent 52 run partnership before Lall fell LBW for a useful 23 to Brickhill captain Graeme Carter. The score had moved on to 96 when the next wicket fell - Graham Simpson tamely dispatching a waist-high full toss straight to mid-wicket for 23 off the left-arm spin of Doug Aris. Lee Taylor (0) followed Simpson back to the pavilion almost immediately, Aris picking up his second wicket.
With Bletchley now on 96-4 and only about 20 overs left to bat, Sprittles and Strong began to build the highest partnership of the match (69), adding some much-needed impetus to the innings. Both batsman punished anything loose, boundaries starting to flow freely on both sides of the wicket.
Brickhill medium-pacer Garth Davson was introduced into the attack and he accounted for Sprittles after a well-made 33. With just 8 overs remaining and plenty of powerful hitters still to bat, James Ward and Strong began to free their arms. After an entertaining cameo, Ward departed for 13, Ramadanpulle (2) following him shortly afterwards, caught on the long-on boundary attempting to clear the rope. Next batsman, Michael Houpe, succeeded where Ramadanpulle had failed in hitting Davson for a maximum off the penultimate ball of the innings to finish on 8 not out. However, it was the performance of veteran Paul Strong with an unbeaten 90 which deserved all of the plaudits.
For Brickhill, Davson was the pick of the bowlers (3-42), well backed up by Aris (2-62).
Great Brickhill’s innings got off to a solid start, with Davson (13) and Andy Ward looking comfortable against Town’s opening duo of Mark Roberts and Sprittles. Knowing an early wicket was vital, Sprittles took himself out of the attack and turned to Simpson’s off-spin. It paid dividends in just his second over, with Davson’s pre-meditated paddle sweep off Simpson’s deceptive quicker ball finding Wasim Fayyaz at short fine-leg.
Graeme Carter, in at three for Brickhill, lived a charmed life in making 12, dropped twice by Simpson in his short stay at the crease. After a couple of elegant boundaries, Bletchley thought Carter was going to make them pay after Simpson’s drops - once off his own bowling and then off Fayyaz.
But Fayyaz would have the last laugh when Carter picked out Ramandapulle at deep square-leg.
Andy Ward, in combination with new batsman Aris, kept the scoreboard ticking over at four runs an over to keep Brickhill in contention. The pair had put on 43 for the third wicket until an inspired bowling change from Sprittles saw Roberts dismiss Aris (14) caught behind, a smart catch by gloveman, James Ward, diving to his right.
With the breakthrough made, Roberts was taken off and Simpson and Fayyaz began to take regular Brickhill wickets. Bowling particularly straight, the Brickhill batsman had no answer to the two spinners. Fayyaz looked dangerous with every delivery, Brickhill struggling with his sliding leg-breaks. Ward fell agonisingly short of a half century (49), but other than an quick-fire knock of 15 by Peter Hastings which included two sixes, Brickhill’s batsman simply didn’t get going and were eventually bowled out for 139 in the 38th over. Fayyaz finished with figures of 4-52 off 14 overs and Simpson picked up 4-36 from his 12 overs.
It was a convincing victory for Town, and a much improved batting and bowling performance after last week’s abject display at home to Cumnor.
In picking up 25 points, Bletchley have moved up to sixth position in the table and have overtaken Great Brickhill in the process. With captain James Clark returning, Bletchley will be looking to take this momentum into next weekend’s game at Manor Fields against Banbury 2nds.
In Division Two, Wolverton were victims of an upset as lowly Challow and Childrey beat them by 10 wickets. Setting an extremely competitive total of 227, thanks in part to Shaun Potter’s 65, Challow’s openers batted flawlessly to reach 229-0, with Vishane Perera left agonisingly on 99 not out, ably supported by Ryan Gordon on 90.
STONY Stratford slipped to their third defeat in a row as Northampton Saints kept up the pressure on early league leaders Peterborough Town at Oslers Lane on Saturday.
The home side struggled to make runs in the first innings leaving Saints with a routine 163 runs to chase, which they did to win by four wickets, meaning Stony are beginning to lose sight of the title chasing group after just six games.
Winning the toss, the home side padded up for a sweltering afternoon in the middle. And it wasn’t long before the Saints bowlers took their first victim, with opening bat Sharn Gomes (5) trapped leg before wicket by Andy Oram with the score on 14.
Fellow opener Mihir Choksi in fine form, but was losing partners quickly at the other end. Ian Sandbrook (4), Richard Scott (6) and Jarrod Pretorious (0) all fell cheaply, with Stony struggling on 42-4.
Nick Allen steadied the ship with a solid knock of 26 as Choksi passed his half century before falling to the spin of Alec Swann - brother of England international Graeme - for 63, with Stony on 112-6.
But it was hard going for the Saints bowlers as Stony batted out their 55 overs, held up ably by Kevin Wijesinghe (13) and Habib Ullah (26 not out) on the way to posting 162-9. Swann was the pick of the bowlers, taking figures of 4-53.
In return, Swann couldn’t perform the same magic he did with the ball and fell for a 22 ball single, but the damage was being done at the other end as Dan Harris scored a quick fire 31 before falling to Ullah.
And the bowler found himself on a hat-trick when he crashed one into Jack Johnston’s pads and things looked promising with Saints on 40-3.
Ullah struck again to take the wicket of Jake Fawcett (13) to end the day with figures of 4-39, but Mark Wolstenholme (40) and Chris Park (42 not out) steadied the ship as the wickets dried up for Stony.
Park remained at the crease alongside Richard Brown (17 not out) as Saints scored the final runs to complete the four wicket win.
Stony Stratford are fourth in the Premier Division, but a gap is beginning to open between them and the leading trio.
And there is no respite for the boys from Oslers Lane - having played league leaders Peterborough Town, and the team in second in Northampton Saints, they travel to third place Finedon Dolben next Saturday, and will be keen to reverse their early misfortune.
four counties league
EATON Bray kept up their unbeaten run at the top of Division 1 with a comprehensive bowling display against Olney.
Winning the toss, visitors Bray started slowly with the bat and lost Wes Hosking (2) and Charlie Alden (11) cheaply before Josh Peacock (25) and James Flecknell came to the crease, bringing with them some stability out in the middle.
Flecknell’s 59 was the highlight of the innings as Bray’s lower order struggled to score in the sweltering heat. Andrew Norris fell for no score before Jaco Jacobs was trapped leg before wicket by Pete Sparrow, pictured above, for 13. Glenn Hearn’s unbeaten 36 helped steer the league leaders to a respectable 177-8.
But while the batsmen failed to deliver on the whole, the bowlers certainly played their part as they ripped through Olney’s order.
Fresh from his half century, Flecknell was proving to be unplayable and was relentless, ending the day with superb figures of 5-7 from six overs, including three maidens. Jaco Jacobs chipped in with 3-14 while Gary Ellerton added 2-19 as Olney collapsed to a meagre 63 all out.
Milton Keynes City kept up the pressure on Eaton Bray with a four wicket victory over bottom club New Bradwell. Iqbal John was the star for City with both bat and ball, taking 4-18 from his 10 overs before padding up and scoring 36 not out to get his side over the line in less than 19 overs.
Milton Keynes beat Division 1 new boys Eggington Foresters by 82 runs to keep up the pressure at the top. Jalil Sear was looking in great form, notching up his half century but was run-out shortly afterwards as MK posted a competitive looking 196-7 from their 44 overs.
In reply, Foresters’ top order collapsed in dramatic style, with the opening six batsmen failing to reach double figures. Naveen Ahmed (25) and Nisar Ahmed (58) held up proceedings but MK took the final wickets in good time, skittling their opponents for 114 to stay third in the Division 1 table.
Newport Pagnell remain in midtable after an eight wicket defeat to North Crawley. Struggling to make headway with the bat, the visiting side fell disappointingly to 125 all out.
North Crawley’s Alex Walker hit a solid 78 not out to help guide the home side to a comfortable victory, losing just two wickets along the way.
New City remain perillously close to the relegation zone after their losing draw to fourth place Elstow. After setting a huge total of 261-5, Elstow picked up quick, early wickets before they came across Asad Mahmood (38) and Mohammed Ghufran (71 not out) who helped stop the rot in the middle order as New City saw out their 44 overs on 166-7.