CRICKET: First defeat of the season for Rugby CC

Rugby CC's captain Owen Edwards
Rugby CC's captain Owen Edwards

End of 11-month unbeaten run for 1st XI

ECB Birmingham League

Rugby v Old Hill

Rugby succumbed to their first defeat of the season on Saturday, eventually being beaten by four wickets after a tough battle with Old Hill.

Having won their first five matches of the season, Rugby had extended their unbeaten run to 11 months, but Old Hill ended this in a game where Rugby certainly didn’t see the rub of the green.

The Black Country side won an important toss and chose to bowl first on a green wicket that had retained an element of moisture from the week’s mixed weather.

It was soon apparent that Old Hill possessed a potent new-ball attack as ex-Warwickshire seamer Naqaash Tahir and Zahid Kafiat bowled with pace, control and considerable movement.

With Asaad Qureshi, Michael Hughes and Jeevan Barhey missing, Rugby’s top three had another re-shuffle, but none of the top order was able to build a meaningful innings.

Bhavik Rathod (11), Raj Chohan (7) and Henry Parker (14) all fell to the opening bowlers who reduced Rugby to 56-3.

This brought the side’s leading run scorers Owen Edwards and Matt Ewer together and the pair were working hard to see off the openers when a pair of horrible umpiring decisions rocked Rugby.

Firstly Ewer (3) was given lbw to a ball that appeared to be going a long way down leg, before Edwards (18) was inexplicably given out caught behind off the bowling of Tahir (17-7-34-4).

When Henry Wilkins (1) fell soon after, Rugby had slumped to 75-6.

Vishaal Rathod has boosted his reputation with the bat this season and, having been promoted to number six, dug in and ensured that Rugby did not collapse with a determined innings.

Rathod (33) went on to top score, before another entertaining knock from number 11 Lee Golding (19) lifted Rugby to 153 all out.

Although the sun had been out and improved batting conditions, Rugby knew there was still plenty in the wicket for their bowlers to work with and had the confidence of bowling a number of sides out cheaply this season.

Matt Ewer and Lee Golding shared the new ball and immediately gave their team further reason to believe a win was possible, making key inroads into Old Hill’s top order.

The opening attack complemented each other well, with Ewer (15-5-42-2) nipping the ball both ways off the seam and Golding (11-3-31-2) settling into great rhythm with his away swing.

They bowled unchanged for the first 23 overs of the innings, showing great heart as well as skill and both had close calls turned down by the umpires for further wickets.

Having slumped to 31-4, Old Hill began to fight back through Thomas Rock and Kafiat, as the pair weathered the early storm and began to lift the run rate.

They had added 39 runs before Edwards (4-1-8-1) brought himself on and bowled Kafiat (17) in his first over, but Rugby suffered a blow when both Edwards and Wilkins were forced out of the attack with injuries.

As Rugby turned to their fifth and sixth bowlers, Jonathan Wright and Rock began to accelerate the scoring rate and Old Hill moved past the 100 mark.

Although George Terry trapped Wright (19) lbw, Rock (64 not out) and Tahir (20 not out) came together to see their side home in the 47th over.

“We’ve had a brilliant run, but it was always going to end at some stage,” said captain Edwards, “The key now is how we respond. One bad result doesn’t undo the good work we’ve done, so we need to dust ourselves off and maintain our self-belief.

“A couple of umpiring decisions did hurt us on Saturday and it is a tough pill to swallow at the time, but these things even themselves out over the season so we have to forget that now. We never expected to start the season so well, but the boys are playing great cricket and I’m confident we will bounce back next week.”

Berkswell 2nds vs Rugby 2nds

RCC 2nd XI slumped to a disappointing seven-wicket defeat against table toppers Berkswell CC.

Making one of their shorter away trips of the season, Rugby captain Hugh Cochrane won the toss and chose to bat first on what appeared to be a belter of a track.

Charlie Robards was partnered by Stuart Lloyd at the top of the order and the former was soon into his stride punishing any width with his trademark cut shot.

Whilst Aspinall (14-1-39-1) soon settled into a nagging off stump line, it was the pace of Reidy (10-1-51-1) who accounted for the first wicket with the score on 43, accounting for Lloyd (15) via a fine catch from 1st slip.

This brought in-form captain Cochrane to the crease who, along with Robards, appeared to be enjoying pace on the ball and both batted patiently, waiting for any poor deliveries and cashing in when they came.

Seeing off the opening bowlers was key but, as has happened regularly this season though, a flurry of wickets soon after halted the Rugby innings in its tracks.

Robards (38) was unlucky to be caught from a wide full toss and when Cochrane (38) and Abhay Lal (1) followed the next over, Rugby had reached the half way stage on 103-4.

Mo Sadiq (15) and Shreyas Honnalli (24) reset and started to rebuild, but Perry-Ogden (11-2-27-7) was bowling a tight line and scoring had all of a sudden become very difficult.

Jon Sage (21) and Tom Mitchell (15 not out) tried to add some impetus at the end of the innings but, having been in a promising position, Rugby limped to 181-9 from their allocated overs.

Berkswell’s openers have been in fine form so far this season, but it soon proved to be a good battle as a return to form saw Dave Marshall bowling with fine control, but no luck at all.

Neal McGrath (11-2-52-1) removed the aggressive Khan for 18 and regularly found the edge of Marco Higgins (35) but unfortunately for the away side none of the edges went to hand.

Cochrane brought himself on and immediately looked threatening and, when he removed his opposite number Coleman (35), with the score on 91, Rugby sensed an opening.

With the Berkswell middle order not having been required in many of their recent games Rugby went on the attack, but unfortunately for them so did the Berkswell no.5 Parker (37no) as he showed his intent by bludgeoning his first three balls for 14 runs.

With the target rapidly approaching Berkswell threw caution to the wind and targeted the short boundary.

Lal picked up the third wicket and Sage was unlucky not to get one for his efforts, but the home side romped home inside 34 overs to complete a 7 wicket victory.

A disappointing batting performance ultimately cost Rugby but they can take heart in the resilience they have shown in the field over the past few weeks against strong opposition.

Next week they host fellow mid-table side Dorridge at Webb Ellis Road as they look to push their way back up the table.

Warwickshire Division 9 East

Rugby 3rds v Ansley Sports 1sts

A vintage batting display from veteran Chris Evans set up a big total for Rugby, although stubborn defence from Ansley meant it was only enough for a winning draw.

After Rugby were put into bat first, Evans carried his bat for the entire 45 overs, striking 25 fours and 2 sixes in his 167 not out.

Keith Brabury (13) and Ikram Ullah (19) were the only wickets to fall, as Evans shared an unbroken third wicket stand of 235 with Tom Binding (84 not out).

Rugby’s total of 327-2 was always going to be too much for Ansley, who set their stall out to survive for a losing draw.

They reached 112-7 from their allocation, with Jack Coleman (10-3-20-3) the pick of Rugby’s attack, supported well by Liam Slaughter (2-26), whilst Rubans and Ullah took a wicket apiece.

Sunday Friendly

Massey Ferguson v Rugby

Rugby picked up a narrow 3-run victory in this week’s friendly, after a number of encouraging performances from their young players.

In ideal conditions, Rugby chose to bat first and opening batsman Liam Slaughter (56) scores his maiden fifty, before some hard-hitting by Lee Golding (61 not out).

However, a middle and lower order collapse saw Rugby lose their way in a hurry and were bowled out for 150 from 29 overs.

Making his senior debut, Zach Anwar shared the new ball for Rugby and took a wicket in his first over with a delightful ball that clean bowled Ian Brailesford (1).

After this setback, Massey’s experienced top order appeared to be well on course for victory, but Rugby picked up wickets at key times and maintained a hold on the run rate.

Matt Raffell and Henry Parker picked up a wicket each, whilst youngster Will Browne bowled a tight spell in the middle overs, as Rugby pegged the home side back.

It came down to 4 needed to win from the last over and Owen Edwards brought himself on and bowled a wicket maiden to ensure Rugby snuck home for the win.