CRICKET: Frustrating defeat for Rugby CC

Lee James batting for Rugby's 1st XI against Olton
Lee James batting for Rugby's 1st XI against Olton
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But 3rd XI extend unbeaten run to top the table

WARCL Premier Division

Rugby vs Olton

Rugby succumbed to a six-wicket defeat at the hands of title-rivals Olton on Saturday, slipping to fourth in the table in a game that was significantly dictated by the toss.

It was a toss that the visitors won and had no hesitation in electing to bowl first on a damp track and Rugby struggled from the outset.

Only Raj Chohan (20) reached double figures in the top five as Olton’s seam attack bowled a series of unplayable deliveries that made runs very hard to come by.

The chief destroyer, however, was off-spinner Kevin Crotty who got the ball to grip, turn and bounce in alarming fashion and ripped through Rugby’s middle order with 12-3-26-5.

Lee James (19) provided some brief cheer for Rugby, but his dismissal left them slumped on 60 for eight, as Lee Golding joined Steve Ward at the crease.

Although conditions had begun to improve, batting was still hard work and the pair built a gutsy partnership with some smart running and selective hitting.

They rode their luck initially but Ward, in particular, began to strike the ball cleanly and reached a superb half century that would have been worth much more in easier conditions.

Their partnership had reached 60 when Golding (19) was dismissed, but Ward (56*) carried his bat as Rugby closed on 140/9.

Frustratingly for Rugby, the sun had come out and the pitch was drying rapidly, which made batting far easier in the second innings and Olton’s high-quality top order applied themselves well.

Matt Ewer (12-6-19-1) was as accurate as ever but, with such a small total to defend, Rugby struggled to make the inroads they needed.

Henry Wilkins (11-3-49-2) bowled a whole-hearted spell that deserved more reward and, when Tom Wilkins (9.5-3-25-1) reduced Olton to 92/4, Rugby sniffed an opening.

However, Olton soon stamped out any hope of a turnaround, as captain Gary Hawkins (31*) and Michael Collins (33*) saw their side to the winning line.

It was a frustrating day for Rugby who suffered the worst of the conditions, but lacked the discipline and fight in their middle order, which left them short of runs.

WARCL Division 4

Warwick 1sts vs Rugby 2nds

Rugby’s second string had to settle for their third losing draw in five matches on Saturday, despite a brilliant innings from John Powell.

Warwick batted first and made steady progress throughout their innings, before a late flurry from Darren Wyatt (58*) took them to 219/7, a total that proved beyond Rugby’s reach.

The economical, but unlucky, Mo Sadiq (12-4-18-0) was the pick of Rugby’s attack, while the wickets were shared between Rob Stipanovic (6-0-57-3), Krish Dhokia (10-0-40-2), Neal McGrath (7-0-22-1) and Powell (11-0-38-1).

Rugby’s reply started disastrously as Tom Austin (3/53) reduced them to 16 for three, before Dhokia (23) and Powell fought back.

Two further wickets fell, but a 56-run partnership between Stipanovic (27) and Powell (80) carried Rugby to 164/5 and the Webb Ellis Roaders looked well place.

However, both batsmen fell without the addition of a run and, despite a cameo from McGrath (19), Rugby were left to block out the final overs to finish on 198/9 and take 10 points away from the match.

WARCL Division 11 East

Copsewood WIW 2nds vs Rugby 3rds

Rugby’s third team extended their unbeaten run and their lead at the top of the table, with a winning draw on Saturday in a low-scoring match.

Rugby were asked to bat first and, after a top order collapse, were rescued by their middle order of Shozab Mohammed (21), youngster Harry Smith (20) and Tom Mitchell (37).

Handy contributions from tail-enders Rubans (15) and Ryan Littlejohn (13) ensured Rugby reached 155 before being bowled out in the final over.

Mitchell (10-0-22-3) then ripped through Copsewood’s top order, well supported by Rubans, Littlejohn and Sachin Sard who picked up a wicket apiece.

Keith Bradbury (10-3-13-3) then put Rugby on the verge of victory, but the final wicket proved elusive as the home side closed on 104/9.