Pictures by Mike Baker
ECB Birmingham League
Rugby vs Old Elizabethans
A Matt-Ewer inspired Rugby secured a 113-run victory over Old Elizabethans on Saturday in a dramatic finish that saw them take the final wicket with just one ball to spare.
With captain Owen Edwards still side-lined, Henry Parker lost the toss for the third week running and found his side asked to bat first, despite the hot weather.
A pair of dubious lbw decisions, both of which appeared to have obvious bat involved, reduced Rugby to 23-2 early on, but Ewer joined Raj Chohan in what became a match-defining partnership.
They were soon on the attack, ruthless on any loose deliveries and scoring freely all around Webb Ellis Road against an OE’s attack short on confidence.
Both batsmen passed fifty in a 146-run stand, before Chohan (68) was finally dismissed.
Three wickets fell for 19 runs, including Ewer (75), but Henry Wilkins and Asaad Quershi formed another important stand.
Having both spent most of the RCC career at the top of the order, Wilkins (31) and Qureshi (32) added 55 for the sixth wicket and showed the benefit in Rugby’s batting depth.
Vish Rathod (19) chipped in with some late runs, before Rugby were bowled out in the 55th and final over for 295.
A rampant Ewer then turned his attentions to bowling and immediately began to scythe through the Worcestershire side’s top order.
In a remarkable opening spell, Ewer (13-8-15-4) accounted for the top four batsmen and reduced OEs to 12-4.
After such an emphatic start, Rugby could have been forgiven for thinking that they would romp home to victory and an early finish, but Lee Dixon and Alex Bastable put up some firm resistance.
All of Rugby’s seamers tested the away side’s batsmen, but the next wicket proved very hard to come by as the pair added 113 for the fifth wicket.
Just as it looked like the batsmen had taken the sting of our Rugby’s attack and the game would meander towards a draw, Neal McGrath (1-46) struck a crucial breakthrough to remove Dixon (59).
As is so often the way after a long partnership, one wicket brought another and, without the addition of another run, Lee Golding removed Bastable (47).
After a luckless first spell, Golding (16-5-47-3) got his reward in his second burst and, along with Rathod (1-29), got Rugby to within one wicket of victory.
However, the overs had continued to tick by and as Wilkins grabbed the ball to start the 55th over, it looked like OEs would deny Rugby a deserved win.
Then, with the penultimate ball of the match, Wilkins found a moment of magic to burst an in-swinger through the batsman’s defence and uproot the stumps.
Old Elizabethans finished on 182 all out and, with Old Hill and Stratford both losing, the 24 points moved Rugby up to third in the table and within two points of second place.
Old Elizabethans 2nds vs Rugby 2nds
A competitive team performance from third-place Rugby secured a 16-point winning draw on Saturday, despite fielding a depleted side.
Rugby 2nds travelled to Old Elizabethans full of confidence having been undefeated since the beginning of June and getting a positive result in each of their last seven fixtures.
Skipper Rob Stipanovic lost the toss and was surprisingly asked to bat first on a baking hot day in Worcestershire.
Bhavik Rathod (24) started brightly, but both openers fell to stunning catches that left Rugby on 42-2 after only six overs.
Mo Sadiq and Abhay Lal went about repairing the early damage and batted sensibly to take the score to 86, before a rush of blood saw Lal (9) get bowled by young spinner Luke Allen, who would go on the take 5 for 35.
Sadiq fell for a well-constructed 34, and he was quickly followed by Tom Binding (6) and Ikram Ullah (8), neither of whom troubled the scorers for long.
Jonny Sage joined George Terry in the middle and the pair quickly punished any bad deliveries, but when Terry (36) fell courtesy of a brilliant caught and bowled from Allen, Rugby were in trouble at 163-7.
Fortunately Sage found some batting form for the first time this season, as he and youngster Zachary Wenham put on 71, until Sage was bowled on the final ball of innings for 60.
Wenham finished unbeaten on 17 as Rugby made 238-8 in their 50 overs.
Old Elizabethans got off to a poor start against Terry (2-30) who enjoyed a healthy tail wind and was bowling with good pace and movement, which accounted for Allen and Nathan Dobbins early on.
A gritty innings of 34 from 95 balls from skipper James Allen meant OEs looked to be on course for a draw, but a flurry of quick wickets including Allen to a superbly flighted delivery from Sadiq (2-23) left them reeling at 114-6.
At this stage Rugby sensed victory and 24 points, but a sloppy last 10 overs full of extras and loose deliveries meant OEs finished of 196-6 with Rugby left to rue a number of missed chances, including Jake Howl who was dropped twice on his way to 71 not out.
WARCL Division 9 East
Rugby 3rds vs Standard 3rds
A youthful Rugby 3rd XI cruised to an eight-wicket victory against their Standard counterparts, with Jack Crinigan scoring his maiden senior fifty in the process.
Standard won the toss, chose to bat first and started confidently through Saad Sheikh (20) and James Strumlido (25), but once Euan Walker got the break through, Rugby took control.
Tom Palmer (2-25) and Matt Raffell (1-27) accounted for the rest of the top order, despite Richard East’s 41 for the Coventry side.
It was then over to leg spinner Keval Rathod (5-1-8-3) to remind everyone of his talent in his first match of the season, well supported by Mark Palmer (2-9), as Standard reached 155 all out.
Rugby’s reply started confidently through Rubans and Crinigan, with the former making 28 before he was bowled by East.
Rathod (2) didn’t last long, but Ollie Tapscott joined Crinigan in a quick-scoring partnership that saw Rugby canter to victory with 12 overs and 8 wickets to spare.
Tapscott (38 not out) struck four big sixes, but it was Crinigan that stole the show with an unbeaten 67.