CRICKET: Willoughby far from disgraced against league leaders

Willoughby wicket keeper Ian Hughes
Willoughby wicket keeper Ian Hughes

Willoughby A runners-up for second year

South Northants

Richard Foxon bowling for Willoughby

Richard Foxon bowling for Willoughby

Cricket League

Division 1

Wroxton 226- 8

Willoughby 169-6

Lee Johnson against Wroxton on Saturday

Lee Johnson against Wroxton on Saturday

Wroxton won by 57 runs

Willoughby were beaten by league leaders Wroxton but were far from disgraced in an improved performance which bodes well for the remaining quartet of league games.

Having once again lost the toss – in fact they have lost every coin toss since mid-June, the visitors chose to bat on what looked like a belter of a pitch, and it turned out that it was!

Despite Lee Johnson claiming the wicket of the opposition skipper in the first over, but his partner Basit Ahmed did some damage with 45, surviving a smart stumping by Hughes which was turned down by the away umpire at square leg.

Kamesh Ganti, promoted from the 2nd XI after a useful season, came into the attack and settle into some fine inswing bowling whilst the spin of Robin Corrigan at the other end slowed the scoring down as pace was taken of the ball.

Ganti picked up two wickets with the visitors reaching 73 for 3 in swift time, before Richard Foxon came on and after a switch of ends after two overs, to take a wicket with his first ball.

Wroxton progressed well nonetheless despite Foxon claiming two more wickets including the key wicket of Asif Hussain for 75) to finish with 3-53.

The visitors then proceeded to raise the tempo taking 60 off the last 6 overs to finish on 226 for 8.

In reply, the hosts started badly with Corrigan and Hughes both falling with only 2 on the board. Martin Nichols then followed swiftly and at 15 for 3 it looked like a procession.

Ganti and Hall applied themselves and built a partnership, the latter falling to bring 16 year old Tom Stevenson to the crease.

The pair battled well and sensibly, before Ganti fell for 42. Stevenson however proceeded to play cautiously and hit the gaps, and with support by 18-year-old Manny Sidhu they defied their age and kept the score kicking over with good, sensible cricket.

Sidhu departed for a well-worked 18, securing 2 batting points in getting WCC past 125 in the process.

It was then left to senior man Graham Hallam to negotiate last eight overs with Stevenson and they fell just short of the fourth batting point on 169; Hallam closing 15 not out and Stevenson 56 not out for his maiden League 50, of which we’re sure there is plenty more to come.

Seven points against the league leaders was a fair return, and with a handful of points between teams in fourth down to eighth and 36 points from the drop zone, it is all to play for in August.

Division 4/5 Development League

Willoughby A 155 all out

Middleton Cheney B 121ao

Willoughby’s second string’s free week at the end of the regular league programme saw them enjoy a 34-run win in the end of season Development League over hosts Middleton Cheney.

It was a much changed side from recent weeks for the visit to Eydon and having won the toss the visitors elected to bat on what was a green but soft wicket.

Initial progress was slow due to the variable bounce and after Ian Andrews gloved one behind, Badj Rahman came in to take on the attack to good effect.

However the visitors efforts were stalled by the loss of three wickets inside 8 balls. Rahman was joined by Matt Smart and the two steadied the ship to take Willoughby to 65 for 4 at the halfway point.

Rahman departed for 39 with Smart following suit shortly after, but Ben Hollis scored a quick 22 before skipper-for-the-day Ryan Perry and Ian Button nudged Willoughby up to and over 150, before the final wickets tumbled.

In reply, Cheney had lost 3 wickets within the first 5 overs with the full and straight bowling of Hollis taking all three of his eventual 4 for 40.

Home opener Ian Crofts hung around but could only watch as Troy Reeves returned from injury to deservedly pick up 2 wickets for 26.

At halfway the hosts had reached 70 -6 with runs mostly coming in the unconventional manner of edges and false shots.

A steady partnership brewed to give the home side hope before John Gregson got the breakthrough and another scalp a over later for figures of 2- 21.

Perry also helped himself to wicket later down the order and after a bit of agricultural hitting from Crofts which got Cheney to 121 he was stumped for 49 off the bowling of Smart to finish off proceedings.

# Victory for Willoughby’s second string was slightly dampened by the news that Maids Moreton pipped them to the Division 4 title in their final league game.

With both teams already guaranteed a top two finish and promotion, Maids ground out the win they needed at Preston Bissett to finish top of the pile by a mere two points, thus seeing Willoughby end their league campaign in runners-up spot for the second successive year.

They can take heart from an unbeaten league record stretching back to early May and the first game of the season which included beating Maids along the way, and Division 3 cricket next season.

Fixtures: Saturday 2pm starts: South Northants League Division 1: Willoughby v Woodford Halse; Division 4/5 Development League: Badby v Willoughby A.