CRICKET: Rugby CC

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One-wicket victory in a tense finish

Warwickshire Cricket League Premier Division

Rugby CC 1st XI 135 for 9 beat Bablake Old Boys CC 1st XI 133 all out

Rugby secured a one-wicket victory on Saturday in a tense finish against old rivals Bablake Old Boys. Last Saturday’s thrilling tie at Olton must have whetted Rugby’s appetite for nail-biting conclusions, as their nerves were tested again in a stuttering run chase. The Town slumped from 55 for one to 126 for 9 in hunt of Bablake’s modest 133 all out, but the final pair of Jamie Barker and Nick Graham edged them over the line. Earlier on in a day where the forecasted heavy rain held off, Matt Ewer won the toss and had no hesitation in choosing to bowl first.

The cloud cover was conducive to swing bowling and a significant tinge of green had returned to the Webb Ellis Road track, all of which were ideal for an opening burst from the Rugby skipper. Ewer took just three balls to claim the first wicket when Arjun Bath edged to wicket keeper Lee James without a run on the board. Rugby’s three-pronged seam attack of Ewer, Owen Edwards and James Barker all enjoyed the conditions and wickets fell at regular intervals. Ewer was the pick of the attack with 15-4-28-4, Edwards also bowling his maximum overs with 15-3-43-1 , and spinners Raj Chohan (2-0-8-2) and Steve Ward (6-2-13-1) chipping in with important wickets. The visitors were reduced to 98 for 9 but a frustrating last-wicket partnership yielded 37 runs, largely thanks to Bablake all-rounder Tom Cowley (43 not out) before Barker (8-0-31-2) claimed the final wicket.

Rugby’s response started confidently with Raj Chohan and Lee James (13) progressing to 30 before the latter was caught and bowled. Edwards (17) got off the mark with a maximum and Rugby looked well set on 55 for 1 when he was trapped lbw by Steve Swaffield. This signalled the start of the collapse for Rugby with four wickets tumbling for just 22 runs. Dave Mackenzie (18) joined Chohan (29) at the crease and the pair rebuilt the run chase and appeared to have Rugby back on course for the win. However they both fell with the score on 101 and Bablake sniffed another opening with two new batsmen at the crease. Tom Mitchell kept the scoreboard ticking with a great knock of 18 under pressure but, when he fell with eight runs still required it was anyone’s game. Thankfully Barker (8 not out) kept his cool and steered his side to the narrowest of wins when he clipped a boundary through square leg.

Rugby will be disappointed by their batting efforts against a team struggling in the bottom half of the table, but the lower order showed great character to secure the 20 points. The win sees them move up a spot to fourth in the Premier League table.