Pictures by Mike Baker
Slideshow from Rugby CC 1st XI v Handsworth at Webb Ellis Road
ECB Birmingham & District Premier League
Rugby v Handsworth
Rugby enjoyed a special day in the club’s history, marking their inaugural Birmingham League match with a comprehensive 73-run victory.
After last summer’s promotion, April’s wet weather had forced the Webb Ellis Roaders to wait a few weeks to start their season, but when the sun finally came out, they showed that they were hungry and ready to compete at this level.
The overhead conditions were perfect for batting on a hot day but, despite a brilliant effort from the groundsmen, the wicket was going to offer the bowlers plenty of assistance, so it was a tricky decision at the toss.
Owen Edwards won this for Rugby and decided to bat first, a formula that worked so well last season.
Things didn’t start ideally for Rugby, when Asaad Qureshi (1) was narrowly run out early on, but Raj Chohan was joined by Jeevan Barhey and the pair laid a crucial foundation.
Handsworth’s bowlers were accurate and the inconsistent bounce meant it was hard to score fluently, so Rugby’s run rate was around 3-an-over for the first half of the innings.
Chohan (27) was eventually the second wicket to fall with the score on 76 in the 27th over, but Edwards came to the crease and immediately upped the tempo for his side.
Edwards (44) struck four sixes in his 35-ball cameo, adding 65 with youngster Barhey, before being caught in the deep.
Meanwhile Barhey (50) underlined his precocious talent and reached a maiden 1st XI half century but, when they fell in consecutive overs, Rugby’s new batsmen struggled to keep up the momentum.
It wasn’t a wicket that allowed Rugby’s big-hitting middle order could come out swinging, as spinner Nasir Khan (4-35) made life particularly hard work.
Busy cricket was the order of the day, as Matt Ewer (19), Lee James (18) and Vishaal Rathod (13no) all chipped in with handy runs, before Rugby’s innings closed on 212-8.
Rugby had grafted hard for their total and it felt like this score was above par, but Handsworth signalled their intent with two boundaries in the first over of the reply.
Lee Golding bowled the second over for Rugby and took just two balls to open his BDPCL wicket account, as Gawayne Evans crunched a half volley straight to the grateful hands of Edwards at mid-off.
However, pinch-hitter Onais Bascome continued to throw caution to the wind and attack the bowling, enjoying his share of good fortune, but striking some powerful boundaries in the process.
The score had raced to 52-1 from eight overs, but Rathod’s introduction turned the game dramatically in Rugby’s favour.
He produced a trademark in-swinger to remove Bascome’s (48) leg stump with his second delivery, before Henry Wilkins grabbed the third wicket in the following over.
Rathod showed no signs of early-season rustiness, generating good pace and bowling with late swing and control that caused Handsworth’s middle order a lot of trouble.
His second wicket came via a remarkable one-handed catch from Edwards, run back and diving to take one over his shoulder, before another swinging yorker secured his third.
Rathod soon added his fourth, before Ewer returned for a second spell and claimed the 7th and 8th wickets in quick succession.
Handsworth had collapsed to 72-8 and the game looked over, but a spirited ninth wicket partnership between Khan and Bilal Zameer kept Rugby at bay and then started to prosper.
Rugby’s bowlers were looking less threatening but, having added a 50-run stand, Khan (52) hit a Chohan delivery straight to Henry Parker at deep mid-wicket.
Rathod was then reintroduced to the attack and took just one delivery to claim his fifth and the final wicket to fall.
Handsworth were 139 all out in the 38th over, with Rathod finishing with magnificent figures of 6.1-2-12-5.
Rugby 2nds vs Handsworth 2nds
Rugby’s 2nd XI eased to victory in their first game in the Birmingham league with a comfortable victory over Handsworth.
New skipper Hugh Cochrane lost the toss and Rugby were invited to bat first.
With the pitch still damp from and the outfield slow runs were hard to come by but a typically aggressive innings from Bhavik Rathod (34) got Rugby off to a good start.
Michael Hughes joined Charlie Robards and the pair made gritty but steady progress taking Rugby to 144 but the wicket of Hughes (36) triggered a batting collapse.
144-2 became 197 all out as no other batsman reached double figures.
Robards was eventually out for 84, a fine knock in tough conditions and a score of 197 still seemed above par.
Handsworth skipper Raj Sudat was the pick of the bowlers with 5-27.
In reply Handsworth never really built up enough momentum to mount a serious challenge.
Jonny Sage (2-27) accounted for both openers early on supported by a very tight spell from spinner NK Sona who went for only 18 runs in his 9 over spell.
David Marshall (1-12) then accounted Karanveer Bhalla with a fine delivery that sent the stump cartwheeling and Cochrane chipped in with a wicket to leave Handsworth reeling on 33-4.
They recovered well through youngsters Kieron Buchanan (28) and Oyinde Bascome (27) but the run rate was rising and the Rugby’s 197 never looked under threat.
Sujahn Barhey (2-26) and Bhavik Rathod (3-46) both bowled fine spells towards the end of the innings and a late flurry of wickets ensured Rugby won comfortably by 32 runs as Handsworth were bowled out for 165 in the 44th over.
Warwickshire Division 9 East
Coventry WIW 2nds vs Rugby 3rds
Rugby’s 3rd XI had a successful start to their season, winning by seven wickets to complete a hat-trick of opening-day victories for the club.
Coventry WIW won the toss and chose to bat first, but were in immediate trouble against Rugby’s new ball attack of Tom Mitchell and Liam Slaughter.
Slaughter was particularly effective and recorded career-best figures of 7-2-19-4, whilst Mitchell (10-4-7-1) was very economical.
Their efforts reduced the hosts to 31/5 off 25 overs, but Subeesh Ramachandran (81) led the fight back.
His innings carried Coventry WIW to 123 all out, but he had little support and Mo Sadiq (2-32), Abhay Lal (1-18) and Henry King (1-22) shared the other wickets.
On a tricky batting surface, Rugby’s reply started badly when their top three contributed a combined total of 17 runs, as Makbul Mallah (2-24) bowled well.
However, once the opening attack finished their spells, Coventry WIW’s change bowlers could not exert the same control.
Lal (70 not out) was particularly aggressive against some wayward bowling, supported well by Sadiq (31 not out), as Rugby reached the winning line in the 30th over.