CRICKET: Rugby 1sts bounce back into second place

Vishaal Rathod
Vishaal Rathod

Dominant display by 2nds

ECB Birmingham Premier League

Rugby v Newport

Rugby returned to winning ways and second place in the table on Saturday, after beating Newport by six wickets on a hot day at Webb Ellis Road.

With the sun beating down, it was a day when captains everywhere were hoping to win the toss and bat first, but Owen Edwards lost it and his Rugby side were sent out to field.

Rugby’s seam bowling ranks were still depleted, with Matt Ewer unavailable and Vishaal Rathod recovering from injury in the seconds, but Lee Golding took the new ball and immediately looked threatening.

It didn’t take Golding long to take a break through, striking in the third over of the match, but then disaster struck for Rugby as he broke down with injury and was forced to leave the field after bowling just 2.1 overs.

Fortunately for Rugby, Henry Wilkins was into a good rhythm at the other end and bowling with nagging control to restrict Newport’s scoring rate to under 3 an over.

Wilkins took the second wicket when he got one to swing back dramatically and clean bowl Mark Downes (15) with the batsman shouldering arms.

Edwards then introduced himself and soon accounted for Jonathan Goodwin (24) to reduce the Shropshire outfit to 46-3.

Rugby’s re-shuffled bowling attack saw Neal McGrath promoted to the 1st XI and, when he replaced Wilkins, he continued his form from the 2nds with a probing stint from the pavilion end.

McGrath struck early to remove Ed Fowler (14), before the visitors finally managed to build a meaningful partnership between captain Jamie Prew and Ian Gillespie.

However, McGrath (10-3-23-2) maintained his control and continued to look dangerous, eventually nicking off Gillespie (20), after a 40-run stand.

This wicket exposed a long Newport tail and, with spinner Naresh Kaushal bowling an immaculate spell at the other end, Rugby showed their ruthless streak with the ball.

Kaushal removed Prew (26), before Wilkins (13-6-20-2) returned and took his second wicket thanks to a sharp catch by George Terry.

The last six wickets fell for just 24 runs, as Kaushal (9.2-4-11-4) ran through the lower order and Newport were bundled out for 130 in the 47th over.

Newport were missing their star batsman Maisam Jaffri, but his absence did not detract from a wonderful bowling effort from Rugby, who had absentees of their own.

The seamers, in particular Wilkins and McGrath, bowled with great control and showed whole-hearted commitment to bowl lengthy spells on a very hot day.

Newport’s score was clearly under par for the conditions, but their experienced and skilled opening attack was intent on making Rugby’s life difficult in the run chase.

Michael Hughes and Jeevan Barhey started the Webb Ellis Roaders’ response comfortably, until Barhey (10) drove leg-spinner Shabbir Khan loosely to mid-off with 22 on the board.

He was replaced by Raj Chohan (16) who looked positive in his brief stay, but was trapped lbw playing the sweep shot to Jaffri.

At 54-2, Edwards joined Hughes at the crease and Rugby’s skipper immediately upped the tempo as the former Stockton duo added 42 in 5 overs.

Hughes (40) and Henry Parker (1) fell in successive overs, as Khan (13-4-40-3) continued to pose problems, but Edwards kept the scoreboard moving towards victory.

Edwards (43 not out) and Wilkins (18 not out) sealed victory soon after in the 28th over and, with Stratford losing to Stourbridge, Rugby’s 24 points moved them back up to second.

Sutton Coldfield 2nds v Rugby 2nds

A dominant display from Rugby’s second string saw them record back-to-back wins, powered to an 83-run success by the Rathod brothers.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Rugby got off to a rollicking start through Charlie Robards and Bhavik Rathod, an opening partnership that has oozed class all summer.

They added 104 before Robards (61) was bowled by Henry Roper and Hugh Cochrane (0) was unlucky to be given lbw in the same over.

Rathod then took control of proceedings and raced to his second century for the club, striking 14 boundaries in his 101.

Alex Smith (22), Vishaal Rathod (18) and Abhay Lal (24 not out) all chipped in from the middle order, as Rugby closed on 251-7 from their 50 overs.

Sutton Coldfield’s reply had progressed steadily to 27, but a Vishaal Rathod break through was soon followed by two wickets in the same over from Mo Sadiq (9-3-32-2) and the hosts were struggling on 39-3.

Remaining opener Rhaim Khalil (39) provided the most resistance but, Rugby’s opening bowlers returned to make further inroads.

Rathod (15-4-39-4) was the star of Rugby’s attack, whilst in-form Dave Marshall (10-3-27-2) followed a trend for the day and also took two wickets an over.

The hosts had slumped to 145-9, but a stubborn last wicket partnership threatened to deny Rugby of a win as the final over began.

However, man of the match Bhavik Rathod grabbed the ball and prised out the final wicket to secure 24 points with just five balls remaining.

WARCL Division 9 East

Bedworth 3rds v Rugby 3rds

Rugby’s 3rd XI were unable to complete the hat trick of club victories, succumbing to a 3-wicket defeat in a high scoring match against their opposite numbers from Bedworth.

Tom Mitchell won the toss for Rugby and chose to bat first, before opening the innings himself with Chris Evans and starting very well.

Evans (64) top scored for Rugby, well supported by Mitchell (34) and Tom Binding (21), before another middle-order collapse saw them lose momentum.

Jack Coleman (37 not out) added some late impetus, but Rugby’s final score of 215/8 was disappointing after such a good start.

Coleman’s form with the ball continued when he bowled a fine opening spell of 10-3-33-3, but Rugby’s bowling attack was depleted by availability and he lacked support.

Kurran Barhey (10-0-60-3) was also in the wickets, including a superb running catch by Chris Phillips, but Bedworth’s number six Andrew Gandon got his side’s innings back on track.

Gandon (88 not out) was well supported by Thomas Noon and, although youngster Will Browne removed Noon (32), Bedworth secured a three wicket victory with 3.1 overs to spare.