CRICKET: Promotion chances slipping away for Willoughby

Nick Crane was economical as ever for the 1sts
Nick Crane was economical as ever for the 1sts

Napton win Sunday’s friendly

Saturday’s fixtures, starting at 2pm, in the South Northants Cricket League see Willoughby host Bodicote in Division 1 and the fixture is reversed for the A teams in Division 3.

Sunday’s friendly, also with a 2pm start, sees Willoughby host East Haddon.

Last weekend’s games:

South Northants Cricket League Division 1

Woodford Halse

v Willoughby

Willoughby 120 all out

Woodford Halse 121-8

Woodford Halse won by 2 wickets

A second successive away defeat for Willoughby has virtually extinguished any aspirations of promotion with mid-table stability looking likely with five games now left.

Having won the toss in baking conditions at Woodford Halse, the visitors opted to bat but after a decent start soon started to see wickets fall by the wayside.

Ashley Rayner managed to hang around to stem the home attack making 24 and having negotiated a hat-trick ball from the hosts Ryan Perry joined him to build the innings worthwhile partnership and see Willoughby into three figures.

Perry was the penultimate wicket to fall with a top sore of 30 as Willoughby were bowled out for 120, a score which was 40 to 50 runs below being competitive. Scott Baxter with 5-27 and Ben Chambers taking 3 for 16 for Woodford.

As Woodford’s reply got underway, the visitors attack was immediately hampered by an injury to Rayner who pulled up after one ball.

Five of Woodford’s top six then got starts making it into double figures but as Willoughby took wickets then could not keep the momentum going.

Nick Crane was economic as ever returning an impressive 2-24 from his 10 straight overs. Dave Alcock bagged 4 for 46 but Kyle Baxter’s 27 supported by Ben Ward making 20 proved the difference as Woodford got home with two wickets to spare.

Division 3

Willoughby A v Helmdon

Helmdon 162-4

Willoughby A 94 all out

Helmdon won by 68 runs

A disastrous batting collapse accounted for Willoughby A at The Green as visitors Helmdon put a huge dent in the host’s promotion challenge.

Having been set a gettable target of 162 for 4, Willoughby were cruising but when a 50-run stand between Ian Button and Badj Rahman was broken it signalled a collapse which saw the last seven wickets fall for 15 runs.

Button top scored with 33 and Rahman making 26 as Helmdon’s Tom Williams and Wayne de Beer took 5 for 16 and 3 for 15 respectively.

Earlier, some late hitting in the visitors innings saw them take 55 off the last eight overs to pass 160. Geoff Bridger’s 44 supported by Charlie Arrand’s unbeaten 53 the main contributors to their total with Willoughby skipper Ben Hollis taking 2 for 32.

Sunday

Willoughby [Sunday Development XI] v Napton

Willoughby 106 all out

Napton 109 for 5

Napton won by 5 wickets

Sunday’s friendly at The Green went the way of the visitors as Napton earned a deserved victory by five wickets.

In what was the first meeting of the two sides for a number of years and a renewal of an old acquaintance spanning several decades – in fact Napton are one

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of Willoughby’s oldest opponents, it was the visitors who had too much for the home side’s mix of youth and experience in what was an enjoyable and entertaining game, just as Sunday village cricket should be.

The home side’s decision to bat first in seamer-friendly conditions initially came back to bite them as the visitors made early inroads and proceeded to work their way into the young middle order.

Skipper Si Nicholls held out for a while making a patient 19 before he made way for 13 year old Jake Quinney to join Hamish Livingstone. Together they made a ninth wicket stand of 43 to add some air of respectability to the score. Quinney was the penultimate wicket to fall going for 11 as the home side’s innings then closed on 106 all out a mere two balls later. The target score was at least a good 20 to 30 runs below par as Livingstone finished unbeaten on 29 with Callum Tuck the pick of the visitor’s bowling taking 4 for 22 for the visitors.

In reply, Nicholls and Karl Quinney probed for an early breakthrough and the two combined when the latter claimed the opening wicket via a catch from the former.

A change of bowling then saw Napton settle into their stride reaching 50 albeit surviving some half chances and the hosts seeing some catching opportunities falling just short. That was until the introduction of another 13 year old, Max Johnson, brought Willoughby some success with the youngster rewarded for his persistence and avenging some initial runs to the boundary with three wickets.

However, despite 15 year old Patrick McDonnell also claiming a wicket, the scoreboard was against the hosts and Napton duly progressed to their target. McDonnell was perhaps unlucky to get on the end of two catching opportunities in two balls late on, as the visitors reached 109-5 with just over 10 overs to spare.