Top four teams still in contention for title - and all play each other this weekend
SLIDESHOW: Owen Edwards and Henry Parker batting against Hampton & Solihull on Saturday. Pictures by Mike Baker
Rugby enjoyed a very successful Bank Holiday weekend, with the 1st and 2nd teams both picking up maximum points from two matches apiece.
The 1st XI are locked in a four-horse race for the Premier Division title, with their rivals all securing two wins each as well, and Rugby are well placed in second position.
With 16 separating them, next week will go a long way to settling the title when these four clubs all play each other.
Rugby host league leaders Bedworth, knowing that victory will put them top of the table, while Olton and Solihull Municipal also meet.
Warwickshire Cricket League
Premier Division (Saturday)
Rugby v Hampton & Solihull
Rugby started the Bank Holiday double-header with a convincing 91-run win, although the margin of victory didn’t fairly portray the hard fought effort Rugby had to make against a stubborn Hampton side.
On a hot day, Owen Edwards was happy to bat first after winning the toss, but his side started badly and were reduced to 31-2.
On a pitch that offered more for the bowlers than looked likely, particularly the spinners, Hampton’s slow bowlers made life hard for Rugby.
Asaad Qureshi (41) and Charlie Robards (25) battled hard to lay a foundation for their team, but some rash shots from the middle order threatened to undo their work when 77-2 suddenly became 92-6, with Tim Keyte (4-17) doing the damage.
Edwards was then joined at the crease by his vice-captain Henry Parker and the pair set about rebuilding the innings in a partnership that started watchfully and turned into a match-defining one.
They added 105 for the seventh wicket, before Parker was eventually caught and bowled for 38, but Edwards was now into his stride and finding the boundary.
He finished unbeaten on 93 from 68 balls, propelling his side to 230-9 from their 50 overs, which looked marginally above par.
Hampton’s reply started cautiously against some accurate bowling from Rugby’s seam attack, but the Webb Ellis Roaders were made to work hard for their wickets.
Matt Ewer struck the first break through, trapping Safian Shkil (10) lbw, before Henry Wilkins produced a gem of a delivery to bowl Chris Hughes (17) and reduce the visitors to 31-2.
As ever, Rugby knew that Hampton’s key man would be Johangir Khan and the number three was soon looking positive and trying to put the pressure back on the bowlers.
With the score on 70, Vishaal Rathod claimed the third wicket and then Raj Chohan picked up the big wicket of Matt James (8) in the following over.
However, with Khan still at the crease, Rugby still had work to do and he combined with Chris Mason (15) to add 44 for the fifth wicket.
However, once Chohan broke this partnership, Khan was starting to run out of able partners and the required rate was getting towards 7-an-over.
Wilkins returned and finally removed Khan (68), who miscued a pull to Rathod in the deep, which exposed a long tail and Rugby were ruthless in finishing the job.
Wilkins (7.3-1-31-4) did the damage, while Chohan (10-1-29-3) was arguably the pick of Rugby’s bowlers, as Hampton slumped to 139 all out.
Barby v Rugby
Rugby held their nerve on Monday to beat Barby by 21 runs in an entertaining local derby that did not disappoint the sizeable crowd at a sun-drenched BCC.
On another scorching day, Owen Edwards was happy to win the toss and choose to bat first again and this time his opening batsmen rewarded him with a fantastic start.
Asaad Qureshi and Raj Chohan combined in a brilliant partnership, negotiating Barby’s pacey opening duo and punishing the loose balls.
They added 125 for the first wicket, until Tom Middleton bowled the impressively consistent Qureshi (65).
From this point, it looked like Rugby had a platform for their big-hitting middle order to propel them to a 300+ score, but Barby’s attack were much improved in the second half of the innings.
Danny Scott (10-3-32-1) was at his nagging best, while Craig Scott (10-1-51-2) picked up the key wickets of Wilkins (8) and Edwards (1) in quick succession.
Chohan continued to impress though and reached his third league hundred of the summer before he was finally caught at square leg for brilliant 101.
Matt Ewer (34) kept the scoreboard moving, while Charlie Robards (12no) and Henry Parker (10no) worked hard at the end, but Rugby were left disappointed with their total of 257-6 after such a good start.
Despite a tough 50 overs in the field, Barby came out with clear intent at the start of their reply and began confidently through Craig Scott and Will Sinclair.
Lee Golding eventually got the breakthrough, when he bowled Scott (14), just reward for a whole-hearted opening burst, and a tight spell from Vishaal Rathod at the other end slowed down Barby’s scoring.
Their efforts allowed Rugby to exert some control through the middle overs, but wickets were proving hard to come by though.
With the required run rate starting to get above 6, finally something had to give and Pieter Pretorius (18) drove a Henry Wilkins delivery to long off where Chohan to a superb running catch.
Two balls later, Rugby had another lift from their fielders when Wilkins dived at cover and threw into the keeper’s end where Tom Gleghorn (0) was run out.
The game continued to ebb and flow but, just as Barby began to build a partnership, Rugby struck again with Edwards bowling Rob Edom (10) and Chohan removing Richard Thompson (11).
Rugby were now well on top, but Danny Scott had other ideas for the home side and immediately upped the tempo when he joined Sinclair in the middle.
He ensured Rugby could not relax until the final over, striking the ball cleanly in a 52-ball 63 before he was dismissed by Rathod.
Rathod (10-1-39-1) was the pick of Rugby’s attack bowling two key spells and he was deserving of much more than his one wicket, as Barby closed on 236-6.
Sinclair (88 not out) carried his bat through Barby’s innings meaning he spent all 100 overs on the field, having also bowled an impressive spell earlier in the day of 10-1-41-1.
Division 3 (Saturday)
Walmley 3rds v Rugby 2nds
Rugby ended up comfortable winners against Walmley although it wasn’t all plain sailing as they won by 60 runs.
Skipper Rob Stipanovic lost the toss and Rugby were asked to bat on a tricky pitch and slow outfield.
Stuart Lloyd (11) and Hugh Cochrane started well but Lloyd played a loose waft and was soon joined back in the pavilion by Barry Taylor who continued his miserable run of form with a duck as youngster Jacob Clarke (3-17) caused problems for the Rugby line-up.
Abhay Lal and Jonathan Sage were both dismissed cheaply and when Cochrane went for a fine 47 Rugby were in trouble at 60-5.
Newly-married Tom Mitchell went about repairing the innings as he struck a gritty 54 in difficult conditions, well supported by Stipanovic (11), Tom Binding (13) and Keval Rathod (11no) as Rugby managed to reach an above par 175.
Walmley started well in response but three quick wickets saw them reduced to 40-3 as Rob Stipanovic (2-28) began to find his trademark line and length.
He was well supported by Lal (2-21) but it was young leg-spinner Rathod who made the real difference.
He took 4-23 and bowled with great control and guile to ensure Rugby gained maximum points from the encounter as Walmley were bowled out for 115.
Division 3 (Monday)
Rugby 2nds v Atherstone 1sts
Rugby cruised to victory over a struggling Atherstone side on a scorching day at Webb-Ellis with a rejuvenated Rob Stipanovic leading the way.
Skipper Stipanovic lost the toss, much to the disappointment of his teammates as Rugby were asked to field.
Jonathan Sage (2-11) made early inroads to the Atherstone batting line-up as he accounted for opener Adam Clements and number three James Burch in successive deliveries.
Jack Cameron (31) and Callum Wordsworth (24) repaired the early damage but the introduction of Stipanovic changed the game.
He took 5-35, including a stunning caught and bowled, as he ripped through the fragile Atherstone middle order as they collapsed from 100-4 to just 133 all out.
He was well supported by 3rd XI captain Tom Mitchell who completed a successful weekend returning to the 2nd team and took 3-11.
The reply was never really in doubt as Stuart Lloyd (30) gave Rugby a solid start.
Bhavik Rathod struck 58 not out and was joined by Sage (22no) as Rugby won in the 32nd over with six wickets remaining.
Division 9 East
Rugby 3rds v Hunningham 2nds
Rugby’s third team finished their season with a 120-run defeat to a strong Hunningham side who have achieved promotion, but the young Rugby side will take a lot of positives from their season.
Having been promoted last season, Rugby’s third team saw a noticeable step up in quality this summer but have seen a lot of really promising performance from their youth players stepping into men’s cricket and helping the team to finish sixth.
Hunningham batted first on Saturday and racked up 282-8 from their 45 overs thanks to Pete Harrison (93), David Reason (72) and Stuart Bird (53).
Adam Milsom (3-48) was the pick of Rugby’s attack, well supported by Chris Evans (3-26) and Euan Walker (2-38) who took the other wickets.
Rugby’s reply started well through openers Jack Coleman (25) and Jack Crinigan (27) but, once they were dismissed, wickets fell in a hurry.
Only a hard-hitting 39 from Mark Palmer and Milsom (17) really troubled the scorers, as Steve James took 4 for 30 and Rugby were bowled out for 162 from 35 overs.