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STONY Stratford recorded an important victory over Northants Academy that lifted them to within just 19 points of third placed Finedon Dolben in a hotly contested Premier Division.
Captain Ian Sandbrook called correctly at the coin toss and elected to bat first on a good looking wicket at Milton Keynes’ Campbell Park ground.
The Stony openers looked quite assured if watchful in their early play, but they lost Mihir Choksi (1) when he badly mistimed an attempted pull shot off Joe Dawborn to be caught in the inner ring.
But Sandbrook and Sharn Gomes then formed an excellent partnership, running hard and punishing loose deliveries to take both the Stony score and their partnership past 100.
Opening bowler Ollie Stone returned and, with the wind on his back, he bowled Gomes for 60 with a well directed yorker. Two runs later Sandbrook also fell – attempting to cut a delivery from Asif Bhojani that skidded on to bowl him out for 48.
That left Stony 113-3 and there followed the middle order frailty that has become an all too familiar story for Stony this season, as 113-3 became 133-8 by the time Kevin Wijesinghe was caught at slip off Goode,
In the end Stony were indebted to some late order hitting from Habib Ullah (15) to bring the score to a defendable 158 all out from 51.2 overs. Asif Bhojani finished as the pick of the Academy bowlers – his left arm spin accounting for five Stony batsmen at the cost of just 21 runs.
The total was short of what could be considered a par score, but Stony were aware that with a slow outfield and good conditions for bowling, it would not be a cakewalk for NCC Academy.
And that proved to be the case as Stony openers Steve Bellew and Gomes bowled tightly, offering nothing loose and restricting the Academy opening pair of Saif Bhojani and Sean Davis to just five runs from the opening eight overs.
The pressure finally told when Bhojani (3) was run out by Sandbrook at backward point attempting to scramble a single that never existed. Davis (3) was given a reprieve as he was caught in the gully off a Bellew no ball, but succumbed for real in the same fashion just two overs later.
Ryan Findlay (0) followed soon after and at 7-3 the Academy were in danger of rolling over without a fight.
It wasn’t the case though as Liam Gough, son of former England bowler Darren, came together with county-capped Ollie Stone. Stone was the clear aggressor but he fell for 22 to a sharp catch behind by Jarrod Pretorius off Wijesinghe.
Dawborn joined Gough and also looked assured in his play, but the pair took many risky runs and the former finally perished at the hands of another sharp piece of work from Sandbrook.
That left the score at 73-5 and the game firmly in the balance. The slow scoring rate of the Academy – with Gough in particular scoring at an almost funereal pace – had brought the possibility of a draw into the equation as well.
Gough (22) was bowled by Ullah (2-32) to tip things in favour of the away side, but Asif Bhojani and Tom Bradbeer had other ideas as they built a partnership of 42 to edge NCCA closer to their target.
Sandbrook reintroduced Bellew (2-27) to the attack and he trapped Bradbeer LBW for 18 to signal the arrival of David Ripley at the crease. The intentions of the NCC Academy coach/captain were clear as he looked to pinch singles as Bhojani came alive at the other end, striking three 4s and two 6s.
Ripley soon dragged on off Ullah, but the Academy could smell victory and continued to push. However, Wijesinghe (3-32) was brought back and he held his nerve – first trapping Bohjani LBW for 31 before clean bowling number 11 Jake Lawrence the very next ball to seal Stony’s victory.
It was an excellent bowling performance from Stony who showed the value of putting batsmen under pressure by restricting their scoring. The 30 points banked could prove invaluable come the end of the season, and they will be hoping to maintain their level of performance when they host promoted side Wellingborough Town this Saturday.
Elsewhere, Stony Stratford 2nds (109) suffered six-wicket defeat to Long Buckby (110-4) in Division Two, with Alex Strong top scoring on 31.
In Division Six, Stony Stratford 3rds (96) went down to Higham Ferrers (132-8) by 36 runs. Michael Brown (35) top scored.
Bletchley Town drew their local derby at Leighton Buzzard on Saturday in a match that ebbed and flowed between two evenly matched sides.
The contest swung one way then the other as James Sprittles for Bletchley and Alan Priestley for the hosts impressed with the ball – both taking five wickets for their respective teams.
Bletchley won the toss and put Leighton in to bat first on a very windy day down at Bell Close. The in-form Tom Light and Kirk Brazier started slowly against the miserly opening attack of Sprittles and James Clark who bowled tightly to restrict the hosts. The score had moved on to 26 in the 15th over before Sprittles induced an edge from Light (17) who was caught at first slip by Clark.
That breakthrough and the slow scoring rate prompted Leighton to reshuffle their batting order which saw Lee Selfe promoted up to number three. However, he didn’t last very long as Sprittles got one to climb and wicketkeeper James Ward grabbed a simple catch. Brazier (16) had ridden his luck with a couple of close shouts before Sprittles eventually trapped him in front to leave the hosts on 40-3.
Graham Simpson replaced Clark, but it was Sprittles who was on-song going on to trap the dangerous Phil Whatmore plumb in front for 12 before bowling Burfoot for a duck as Leighton hit trouble at 53-5.
Sprittles had five wickets and Bletchley were right on top. However, at numbers six and seven were Dan Scott and Leighton captain Anthony Francis who began to forge a crucial partnership, taking quick singles and batting well in the difficult conditions.
Sprittles tired, but his efforts of 5-50 in 20 overs were a superb return to form for the influential all-rounder who had put his team in a good position to win.
A partnership of 72 between Scott (39) and Francis (39) was critical for the home side as they swung the game back in their favour. However, Jude Ramanadanpulle took a smart catch at cover to dismiss Scott off the bowling of Wasim Fayyaz, before Jack Kempster was out tamely in the same over to leave the hosts 125-7.
Adam Culley hit a quickfire unbeaten 16, but Fayyaz cleaned up the tail to give him impressive figures of 4-25 as he continued his good form. Leighton were all out on the last ball of their innings for 157 as Sprittles (5-50) and Fayyaz (4-25) took the bowling honours.
Bletchley sensed that this was a good opportunity to capture an important 25 points, despite the loss of three overs due to a rain shower, leaving them 44 overs to chase down Leighton’s total.
And the visitors began positively through Paul Strong and Matt Shepherd. Despite the conditions being favourable to the bowlers, neither opener looked in much trouble until Shepherd was bowled by Priestley as he failed to convert another promising start.
Raj Lall, in partnership with Strong, took Bletchley to 64-1, needing 94 to win from 24 overs with nine wickets in hand.
However, they suffered a major collapse at the hands of Priestley to swing the match back towards the hosts as first Strong (24) was unluckily caught behind by Tim O’Leary from a ball that ricocheted off the pads via the batsman’s gloves down the leg side.
Worse was to follow for Bletchley when the top-middle order of Simpson, Taylor and Sprittles were blown away for ducks as the away side slipped from 64-1 to 69-5.
Ramanadnanpulle didn’t last long as he chipped Selfe tamely to short mid-wicket for 4 as Bletchley hit the rocks at 79-6.
Bletchley skipper Clark joined Lall at the crease and the pair sensed that if they built sensibly, the victory chase may still be on. However, Lall’s attempts to up the scoring rate failed when he chipped Scott to mid-on after a well-made 25.
With Ward departing soon after to Culley for yet another duck, Bletchley were soon fighting for survival. Mark Grass hit a couple of lusty blows before he was out in the 40th over trying to force the issue for 13.
Bletchley were now out of the running to claim a victory but last man Fayyaz survived two Selfe overs before Clark (18 not out) blocked out the final over from Light to earn a draw for Bletchley who closed on a score of 124-9.
Bletchley were disappointed not to win the game, especially after their bowlers had put them in a strong position. However, for the second week running, the top middle order failed and cost Bletchley the match.
The pressure is off this Saturday when sixth placed Bletchley entertain runaway Division One leaders Horspath at Manor Fields, hoping for sunshine, and a better performance with the bat.
Great Brickhill are starting to find their feet in the top tier and beat Cumnor by 49 runs for their second win of the season.
Brickhill lost the toss and were asked to bat on a wet and suspect wicket, and they didn’t make a very good start as opener Andy Ward fell early and captain Graeme Carter followed shortly run out.
Garth Davson and Anton De Beer added some much needed runs to Brickhill’s total, capitalising on some loose bowling. The big hitting De Beer then fell LBW in his 30s and this brought Doug Aris to the crease.
Davson was also out LBW for 47 and was quickly followed back to the pavilion by Nick Cadman. Aris and Greg McDonald then built a valuable partnership, taking Brickhill past 150 to put them in a commanding position.
McDonald fell for 20, but Aris remained at the crease. Wickets soon began to fall as the Cumnor bowlers started to increase the pressure though, with wicketkeeper Paul Little, Arran Aris and Nick Tweed falling as Aris continued to tick the scoreboard over.
Morgan was unfortunately run out in the final over, leaving Aris stranded on a superb 97 as Brickhilll finished with 218. The pick of the bowlers was Ali Morteza with 6-66, but Brickhill looked set for a big win.
Cumnor’s openers were aggressive in reply, scoring 59 in the first 10 overs, but that only brought early wickets for Brickhill who increased the pressure. Morteza came to the crease and looked to hit some much needed runs, but wickets continued to fall around him.
And the introduction of Davson saw the demise of the Cumnor innings with accurate bowling. At the other end Morteza continued to dominate the bowlers until falling LBW to Doug Aris for 76.
With the tail exposed, Davson exploited their frailties, bowling Cumnor out for 169, securing a 49-run win for Brickhill. Tweed finished with 3-38 and Davson 5-31, while Morgan and Doug Aris chipped in with one wicket apiece.
After a tough start to the season Brickhill are now starting to find the form that saw them clinch promotion from Division Two last year, but they face a big test away to second placed Oxford Downs next.
Wolverton Town were fortunate to escape with a draw on their visit to Aston Rowant as the home side got to within four runs of recording an unlikely victory.
Kieran Lampard (80) and Asim Hussain (31) got the away side off to a strong start, but their innings was cut apart by Rowant bowler Tim Foster who claimed figures of 6-78 as he tore through the Wolverton order.
The visitors reached 213 at the end of their 52 overs, but that wasn’t good enough as the home side responded well, led by Ben Mills who smashed 92 not out, as Rowant got to within a whisker of victory at 210-3 when they ran out of overs.
The hosts took 12 points and Wolverton 10, seeing them drop from the top of the table to fourth place due to wins for their title rivals elsewhere. Next up a home game against sixth placed Oxford Downs 2nds.
Wolverton Town 2nds maintained their fine form by beating Oxford & Bletchingdon Nondescripts by two wickets to remain top of the table.
Andy Settle’s fantastic spell of 5-64 for Wolverton helped bowl the home side out for 177 as only Chris Day (71) managed to trouble them, before Zack Wade (65) and Michael Yeates 42 (not out) led the scoring as the visitors won with 178-8, after a little trouble from Taukeer Ahmed (5-60) who made things a little nervier than they could have been.
Nevertheless less it’s now four wins this season for a Wolverton side looking good ahead of a mouth-watering clash with title rivals Great Brickhill 2nds this Saturday.
Brickhill moved up to second place with a one wicket success against Aston Rowant 3rds who totalled 146, thanks mainly to the strong bowling attack of Blackwell (3-33) and Morris (3-27). However, Brickhill made life quite difficult for themselves with Cook top scoring on 42 while this team-mates fell around him. But they got there in the end to win on 148-9 in 43 overs.
Bletchley Town 2nds were on the end of a 62-run defeat to Sandford St Martin who moved up to third in the table as a result.
The visitors made 187 in an innings cut short by Brown who enjoyed a good day at the office with figures of 5-48, but that was enough to win the game as only Hollis (33) made a decent impression with the bat as Bletchley fell for 125 in 47 overs as they slip to seventh place in the table ahead of a trip to Cropredy 2nds.
four counties league
The summer rain might have caused the cancellation of some games, but it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of MK City as they beat Olney Town by 112 runs to remain top of the table.
Jamil Raja hit a superb 69 for the home side when they reached 227-8, and Shayan Naseem was the star of the show with the ball as he took 4-26 to dismiss Olney for 115 in reply, with number nine Paul Smith (20) their leading scorer.
City’s main title challenge looks like it will come from North Crawley – whose game at New City was cancelled – and Milton Keynes who beat New Bradwell by five wickets.
Ben Riches (41 not out) led the way for New Bradwell as they made 185 in light of some fine bowling performances from Joe Fairbrother (4-40) and Kaushik Sunkara (3-21) in particular. But it was Tom Hilson who stole the show with a knock of 81 for Milton Keynes as they hit 187-5 to win, well supported by Sunkara (34) and Nimesh Chavda (25 not out).
Cranfield University’s fine start to 2012 continued with a crushing 124-run victory against Studham, seeing them move up to third place in the table.
Opener Fakhre Ali produced a splendid knock of 55 to get Cranfield off to a great start, but Vikul Thakur would go on to be the hero with an unbeaten 80 to help the away side to a healthy total of 202-8. And the win was confirmed by Atif Riaz (5-23) as he cut through the Studham line-up, restricting the hosts to a mere 78 in reply.
John Watson (68) led Stoke Hammond to a winning draw against Stewkley Vicarage as his side made 206-7 before the home team reached 124-6 in reply, with Joe D’Agostino (3-25) the pick of the bowlers.
Milton Keynes 2nds kept pace with the two sides about them in the table thanks to a 94-run success over Harlington.
The home side opened with just 160, with Nick Fairbrother (65) the only MK batsman to make a telling impression. However, that score was good enough as Craig Gentleman (4-20) and Jayan Parmar (3-10) produced excellent spells to have Harlington all out for just 66 in reply,
New City 2nds (175-9) suffered a losing draw at the hands of table toppers Ivinghoe & Pitstone (202-7).
Olney Town 2nds continue to lead the way in Division Five as bottom side Old Bradwell 2nds became their latest victims in a 43-run victory.
Opener Harry Warn (61) helped Olney to 202-7 before Old Bradwell were dismissed for 159 in reply, thanks in no small part to Mark Hickman (4-15) and Ben Brown (3-23).
Newport Pagnell 2nds (172-6) enjoyed a four-wicket win against Stony Stratford 4ths (171) with Vinay Varakantham leading the scoring for the victors on 61. For Stony, Hemish Patel hit 60.
Great Brickhill 2nds (179-1) stay second in the table thanks to their nine-wicket victory over Wing (175-9). Adam Boad (4-37) was the pick of the bowlers for Brickhill before Andy Harwood fired them home with 64.
Wolverton Town 3rds (179-7) picked up their first win of the year against Aylesbury Town 2nds (85-9) as Tauneed Rehman top scored on 50.
Bletchley Town 3rds (150-9) went down by three wickets to Thurleigh (151-7) and Stoke Hammond 2nds (187-7) recorded a winning draw with Edlesborough (135-9), Arun Srikumar making 69 for Stoke.
MK midweek league
League and Cup round-up
In the Premier Division, MK Azad (90-6) beat Friends United (89-6) by four wickets, while Stony Stratford (120-4) lost out to Wolverton Hawks (125-5) by five wickets.
In Division One, Stoke Hammond (109-9) lost out to Dial Square (127-5) by 18 runs.
MK Azad (123-3) saw off Stony Stratford (119-6) by seven wickets in the quarter final of the Midweek KO Cup.