CRICKET: Willoughby reports

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Promotion aspirations take a dent

South Northants Cricket League

Division 1

Byfield ‘A’ v Willoughby

WILLOUGHBY 175-9 (6 pts)

BYFIELD ‘A’ 179-6 (20 pts)

BYFIELD ‘A’ won by 4 wickets

Willoughby’s promotion aspirations took a dent on Saturday as hosts Byfield first had a blitz with the ball before a rapid start with the bat to grab the day’s points.

In fine conditions at one of the league’s more desirable grounds to visit and play at, the visitors batted first which saw Nikesh Mistry make 43 and Ian Hughes 21 in a bright start, however that was before Rob Oliver ripped through the Willoughby mid order taking 6 for 18 for the hosts. WCC eventually reached 175 for 9 off their allotted overs, a target set which was perhaps 20 or so runs short of par.

And so it proved, particularly as similar to the reverse fixture at The Green, Byfield came out all guns blazing. In a whirlwind start, they reached 60 off their first four overs, before the bowling of David Alcock (3 for 47) and Marcus Fleming (2 for 24) held up the initial charge. However Byfield’s early damage proved decisive as they clawed the runs and reached their victory total albeit with only seven balls to spare; Martyn Bannister top scoring for the hosts with 46 with Andrew Wheeler posting 38.

The defeat does not rule Willoughby out of the promotion picture, but makes this weekend’s visit from second in the table Afro Caribbean all the more important and intriguing.

Division 4

Willoughby ‘A’ v Towcestrians

TOWCESTRIANS 215-8 (20 pts)

WILLOUGHBY ‘A’ 110-8 (7 pts)

TOWCESTRIANS won by 105 runs

There was defeat also for Willoughby’s second string although their 10-men can take credit for ironically one of their better performances of the season again against the division’s champions.

Overnight withdrawals left the hosts a man light so it was no surprise when having won the toss – and given their record with the willow this term, that Towcestrians opted to bat. What they didn’t bargain for was the early wicket of opener Jones for a duck with Trevor Eadon taking another fine catch at slip off the bowling of Karl Quinney. That brought the visitor’s Tom Sheppard to the crease who having chanced his luck to survive in the early stages showed some fine drives to top score with 71. Ollie Drage in at 5 was at times equally as fortunate with several edges missing the stumps and Willoughby hands, before finding runs and eventually making 54. Willoughby’s persistence was eventually rewarded with a flurry of wickets through the middle to late order, Quinney finishing with 4 for 52 off 12 overs, Sean Thornton returning 3 for 47 as Towcestrians set a challenging target of 215 for 8.

That target became even more distant in reply with the visitors opening attack accurate and true, although WCC openers Ben Hollis and Badj Rehman showed good discipline before falling in succession. That brought Eadon to the crease and with batting points the real target he went onto make a well-crafted 28 backed up well by firstly young prospect Hassan Nawaz and then Pete Reynolds. Thornton’s late blows took Willoughby into three figures and although Willoughby closed on 110 for 8, the points yielded and more so the manner of their performance will hopefully stand them in good stead for their crucial final three matches beginning a week on Saturday.

FIXTURES – all 2.00pm starts

Saturday

South Northants Cricket League

Division 1

Willoughby v Afro Caribbean

Division 4

Willoughby ‘A’ have a free week/Bye

Sunday

Club Friendly

Oakfield v Willoughby