Encouraging signs, but patchy form continues
Warwickshire Cricket League
Kings Heath v Rugby
Rugby’s patchy form continued, despite a spirited effort with the ball, as they succumbed to a three-wicket defeat at Kings Heath.
The home side’s covers had leaked at one end and, with the bowlers licking their lips at the sight of a significant wet patch on an off-stump length, it was a crucial toss to win.
For the fifth consecutive week, Rugby skipper Owen Edwards lost the toss and his side were duly asked to bat first.
In-form pinch hitter Henry Wilkins got his side off to a great start, striking the ball cleanly from the outset and the field soon began to spread.
Amazingly he scored all of the first 42 runs in Rugby’s innings, before his fellow opener Jeevan Barhey got off the mark.
However, with the score on 43, Wilkins (42) was trapped lbw and Matt Ewer (4) followed soon after.
Youngster Barhey (19) showed his potential, while Owen Edwards (16) was unlucky to be caught after a ball leapt out of the wet patch.
Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals for Rugby and only Henry Parker (48) spent a prolonged spell in the middle.
When he was ninth man out, Rugby had slumped to 149-9, but a last wicket stand of 29 between Ikram Ullah (15) and Tom Wilkins (15no) carried Rugby to 178 all out.
Although the pitch had dried out somewhat, there was still plenty of assistance for Rugby’s bowlers who were optimistic about restricting the hosts.
Ewer gave them the ideal start with an early wicket, superbly caught by Henry Wilkins at short leg.
Brothers Gavin and Stuart Shephard began to lay a good foundation, before the latter was trapped lbw for 12 in Tom Wilkins’ first over.
Francois Louw (25) and Shephard (33) accelerated the scoring rate but, just as they were taking the ascendancy, both batsmen fell in quick succession.
The game was evenly poised, but a series of fortuitous mishits landed in space and Rugby dropped two tough chances, as the game swung back towards Kings Heath.
Callum Bird (39) and Josh Baker (32) were both dismissed by the ever-nagging Tom Wilkins (12-0-49-3), before Lee Golding claimed the seventh wicket.
However, Kings Heath had enough left in the locker to get over the winning line with three wickets and nine balls to spare.
Edwards (9-2-13-1) was Rugby’s tightest bowler, but all of the attack bowled with discipline and there were some encouraging signs for the Town ahead of next week’s clash with struggling Bablake.
Warwickshire Division 3
Rugby 2nds vs
North Warwickshire 1sts
With 29 players unavailable across the club a depleted Rugby CC 2nd XI had to settle for a losing draw on Saturday against a strong North Warwickshire 1st XI.
Losing the toss Rugby were unsurprisingly asked to bowl first and with a lack of seam options available this week, McGrath shared new ball duties with the spin of NK Sona. Both immediately settled into a rhythm though and bowled with fantastic discipline, the run rate barely creeping over 2 an over. McGrath was the first to strike, accounting for opener Lewis with a vicious bouncer with the score on 11 and when the other opener was run out North Warwicks had crept to 23-2 off 12.
Sona (12-5-24-0) was unfortunate not to pick up a wicket with three chances going down off his bowling but it was a brilliant unchanged spell that helped limit the opposition to 51-2 at the halfway stage.
Unfortunately for Rugby though a poor second half ensued as both poor catching and some wayward bowling allowed Garagula to reach his 50 and the away side racked up 120 runs in the final 20 overs.
Sage (10-0-40-3) was the only bowler who offered any real control and no less than six catches went down throughout the innings. Going into tea Rugby needed 201 for the win knowing that the target was probably 30 runs more than it should have been.
Promoted up the order Sage (21) partnered Evans (18) and the pair set a solid platform against one of the stronger bowling attacks Rugby have faced this season.
Rugby had eased along to 44 without loss off 13 overs before yet another collapse ended any hopes of a 24-point win to keep them at the top of the table. 44-0 soon became 62-5 as the economical Norris (12-5-13-2) and Smith (12-3-23-4) ripped through Rugby’s middle order. This brought skipper Stipanovic to the crease and along with Sona, they looked firstly at rebuilding the innings and taking the momentum away from the rampant North Warwick bowling attack.
Sharing a partnership of 65 it briefly looked like Rugby were still in with a chance of chasing the target, but when Sona fell for a run a ball 38 it was left to Stipanovic (27), Binding (12no) and Milsom (2no) to bat out for the losing draw as Rugby finished on 154-7 from their 50 overs.
It was a disappointing performance from the 2nd XI, with dropped catches ultimately proving costly and then losing 4 wickets for 8 runs in their own innings scuppering any realistic hope of chasing down the target, but the 8 points they picked up kept Rugby at second in the table.
Next week, with availability hopefully much better, Rugby will look to return to winning ways as they travel to local rivals Bedworth CC 2nd XI.
Division 10 East
Rowlands 2nds vRugby 3rds
An understrength Rugby side were soundly beaten by local rivals Rowland United on Saturday, although there were some promising signs from a very youthful side.
Rugby chose to bat first, but lost wickets steadily throughout their innings, with Frankie Wilson (6-33) doing the damage.
Kurran Barhey (31) looked in good form for his first innings of the summer, well supported by Sachin Sard (24), but only two other Rugby players reached double figures.
Having been bowled out for 116, Rugby needed to strike early, but the hosts’ captain Ian Randle (44no) carried his bat to ensure Rowlands won by six wickets.
Rugby did take 4 wickets, to ensure the collected a solitary point from the match, with Suj Barhey (9-0-36-3) bowling well and Liam Slaughter picking up the other wicket.