Five-wicket victory over Milford Hall set up by impressive seam attack
ECB Birmingham League
Milford Hall v Rugby
Rugby returned to winning ways with a five-wicket success at Milford Hall, set up by another impressive bowling performance by their seam attack.
A fine batting track had been prepared at Milford’s attractive ground, but Rugby skipper Owen Edwards wont the toss and elected to bowl first, hoping his bowlers would enjoy the early cloud cover.
The differing styles of Matt Ewer and Lee Golding have formed a potent new-ball attack for Rugby in recent weeks, with Ewer’s nagging accuracy complementing Golding’s late swing effectively and they were soon making inroads once again.
Golding (13-4-37-3) struck first, swinging one back through the defence of left-hander Aaron Afford (8) to bowl him, before Ewer removed fellow opener Michael Astley (6).
Only James Davis (11) reached double figures from Milford’s top five, as Rugby’s opening bowlers shared three wickets apiece and quickly reduced them to 54-6.
Matthew Kirby finally showed some resistance for the home side and, after 22 overs, Rugby turned to their change bowlers.
Edwards (8-2-8-1) bowled a tight line and eventually trapped Kirby (32) lbw, before Naresh Kaushal removed Mark Thompson (9).
At 82-8, it appeared that Rugby would bowl Milford out for a double digit score, but tail enders Chris Dean and Tom Webb showed some spirited resistance.
They added 32 for the ninth wicket, before Dean (16) was well caught by Jeevan Barhey from George Terry’s bowling, but Webb continued to strike the ball cleanly.
Ewer (13-5-22-4) returned to the attack and eventually had Webb (32) caught in the deep, but his efforts had boosted his side to 132 all out.
Although the lower order fight back had given Milford some hope, their total was still a long way below par in good batting conditions, especially with overhead conditions improving for the batsmen.
However, a couple of unfortunate umpiring decisions saw Raj Chohan (0) and Barhey (15) dismissed early in Rugby’s reply, as they struggled to 28-2.
Michael Hughes (22) looked in good touch but, when he edged behind off Webb (3-26), Rugby were wobbling on 44 for three.
This brought vice-captain Henry Parker to join Edwards at the crease and the pair soon got the run chase back on track, watchfully defending when needed, but soon cashing on the fast outfield with a number of boundaries.
Edwards was the main aggressor, driving fluently through the offside, whilst Parker was ruthless on anything short as the pair added a match-winning 75-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Although Edwards (62) and Ewer (5) both fell trying to finish the match in a hurry, Parker (31 not out) saw his side home in the 29th over.
The victory moves Rugby back up to second in the table, seven points behind next week’s opponents and league leaders Stourbridge.
Rugby 2nd XI vs Dorridge 2nd XI
Rugby’s middle order woes continued as another limp batting display resulted in a 4-wicket loss to Dorridge 2nd XI.
Stand-in captain Neal McGrath lost the toss and the visitors chose to bowl first in an effort to use the favourable overhead conditions.
With key batsmen Charlie Robards and Hugh Cochrane unavailable this, a reshuffled top order saw Bhavik Rathod join Stuart Lloyd at the top of the order.
The opening pair started watchfully with Rathod quick to pounce on anything short of a length and, whilst the pitch was offering variable bounce for the openers, the two Rugby men were unfazed and put on an opening partnership of 91 before Rathod (45) was out in the 19th over.
With Lloyd (50) reaching his first half century of the season Rugby, reached drinks well set on 110-1, but the dismissal of Lloyd soon sparked a horrible batting collapse in an all too familiar fashion.
Shreyas Honnalli (13) and Mo Sadiq (3) both fell to the economical Seeley (15-6-34-5) and, when Abhay Lal (8) and Tom Mitchell (0) soon followed, Rugby had scored just 10 runs in 10 overs for the loss of 5 wickets.
Chris Evans (16) put on 30 runs with Jon Sage (24) and some late hitting from Marshall (10*) took the home side to a final total of 193-8 off their allocated overs.
Dave Marshall’s return to form continued and he was unlucky not to pick up any wickets in his first few overs as he repeatedly beat the bat with genuine pace.
The Dorridge opening pair began patiently and with the outfield quickening up used the pace on the ball to good effect.
Marshall (10-1-43-3) was the first to strike, accounting for the dangerous looking Harrison (18), ably assisted by a superb gully catch by Rob Stipanovic.
Stipanovic was then introduced to the attack and quickly removed the other opener Rhodes (28) and the game was finely poised at 70-2 from 20 overs.
McGrath, not finding his usual shape took himself off and was replaced by Sage who showed demonstrated his all-round capabilities once again.
Consistently beating the bat he was causing real trouble to the Dorridge middle order and Rugby knew a couple of quick wickets would put them on top.
Smith (8) was pouched at midwicket by Mitchell off Sage’s bowling but a key umpiring decision ultimately cost Rugby a chance at running through the lower order.
Sage induced a thick edge from Dorridge’s number three Rajgor (58), but the appeal was somehow turned down and it proved costly and, flaying his bat at most deliveries, he rode his luck to match-defining 50.
The game was still in the balance however as McGrath brought himself back on at the other end and when he bowled Henrik for 15, Dorridge still required 45 runs from the last 10 overs.
A fantastic second spell from Marshall (10-1-43-3) picked up two further wickets, but the visitors had enough left to get over the line through Craig Roberts (25no) and Chris Leavers (19no) with three overs and four wickets in hand.
A disappointing batting performance once again cost the home side but improved availability next week will encourage them as they host Stourbridge at Webb Ellis Road.
Whilst they have lost the last two games the league is still tight and a couple of wins would put the 2nd XI right back in the mix at the top half of the table.
Warwickshire Cricket League Division 9 East
Wolvey 2nd XI vs Rugby 3rd XI
A determined effort from Rugby’s third string secured a losing draw against a strong Wolvey side, who have recently merged their 1st and 2nd XI, after their 1sts folded.
Rugby chose to bowl first and got a great start through in-form opening bowler Jack Coleman (10-2-23-4) and Hem Mistry (10-1-31-2) who reduced Wolvey to 60/6.
However, a superb partnership between Joseph Smith-Walker (105) and John Hawkins (63 not out) carried their side to 226/9 from 45 overs, despite the efforts of youngster Euan Walker (3/51).
Rugby’s reply started badly with the early run out of Ikram Ullah (5), before Coleman (13) and Koria (10) failed to convert good starts.
A middle order collapse left Rugby facing defeat, but remaining opener Barry Taylor was providing a vital backbone to Rugby’s innings, whilst Rubans (48) dazzled with a boundary-laden cameo.
Taylor (52 not out) reached a dogged half century in the final over of Rugby’s innings, as they closed on 139/7, whilst Jevon Thorpe (10-2-22-2) was the pick of the hosts’ attack.