CRICKET: Rugby CC back to winning ways against Handsworth

Matt Ewer took 4-17 against Handsworth
Matt Ewer took 4-17 against Handsworth

Best performance of season by 2nd XI to beat title challengers

WARCL Premier Division

Handsworth vs Rugby

Rugby made a welcome return to winning ways on Saturday, beating Handsworth by six wickets in a low-scoring affair, after an usual string of events delayed the start.

Firstly the umpires assessed that the prepared wicket was unacceptable and moved the match to the previous weekend’s used track and then the hosts’ roller broke down in the middle of the pitch.

On cue, just as the roller was restarted and moved, it began to rain and the game was reduced to a 30-over contest by the time the captain’s walked out to toss.

Owen Edwards won this and was keen to field first in bowler-friendly conditions, a decision that was soon endorsed by his opening attack.

Matt Ewer struck first when the dangerous Carby Dawkins (0) drilled the ball straight to Jon Sage at mid on, before Lee Golding found his groove and some extravagant swing from other end.

Golding (9-1-21-2) struck twice in an over to remove Renrick Hooper (5) and then an unplayable delivery clean bowled Demari Prince (0) to make it 6 for 3.

It wasn’t long before Ewer struck again, bowling Waseem Mazhar (7) and when Vishaal Rathod accounted for Gawayne Evans (12) with his second delivery, Handsworth had slumped to 28/5.

Handsworth’s newly-appointed captain Anton Johnson tried to fight back for his side, running well and hitting powerfully down the ground, sharing a 37-run stand with Dwayne Crossgill for the sixth wicket.

However, when Golding finished his allocation, Ewer (9-4-17-4) returned and removed Crossgill (8) and Kieron Buchanon (0) in quick succession.

The home side’s final hopes of a competitive score went when Johnson (27) was dismissed by Rathod (8.3-1-30-4) and two yorkers from the same bowler soon finished the innings off for 84.

Even on a lively wicket, this score looked below par, especially given the fast outfield on offer, but Rugby’s batting has struggled all summer and the reply did not start well.

Jeevan Barhey (8) looked in good touch with a couple of cover drives, but he was bowled by Bilal Zameer and three more single-figure scores from Rugby’s top order left them in trouble on 36/4.

The only man to look comfortable was number four Edwards, who struck his first ball for four and kept the scoreboard moving, which was key in such a low run chase.

He was joined by George Terry and the pair took the sting out of Handsworth’s attack with some sensible batting, soaking up the pressure and then easing towards the winning line.

Consecutive boundaries from Terry (18 not out) brought up the 50 partnership and the victory in the 23rd over, whilst Edwards (45 not out) had scored the bulk of his side’s total.

Rugby travel to Bedworth next week for their final match, hoping to finish a disappointing campaign with another win, knowing they could still finish anywhere from 6th to 9th in the table.

WCL Division 4

Rugby 2nds vs Aston Unity 1sts

Rugby’s second string produced one of their best performances of the season, beating Aston Unity by 67 runs on Saturday.

With Aston in the title hunt and Rugby coming into the encounter on a five-match losing streak, it was a surprise result that was set up by a captain’s innings from Charlie Robards.

He won the toss, chose to bat first and found side struggling on 34/2, before Alex Smith joined his skipper in a 96-run partnership that proved the difference between the sides.

Robards (68) top scored, well supported by Smith (41), before youngsters Shreyas Honnalli (36 not out) and Kurran Barhey (20 not out) combined to add 59 unbroken runs at the end of the innings.

Their enterprising stand propelled Rugby to 203/6 from 50 overs, which immediately looked a long way off for the visitors when Suj Barhey (2/22) took two early wickets in their reply, including a sharp return catch.

Off-spinner Mo Sadiq (10-3-31-4) then took over and claimed the next four wickets, reducing Aston to 70/6, before a 42-run stand between Craig Brookes (45) and Stephen Jordan (17) held Rugby up.

However, Muneer Khan (2/17) ended their resistance, before Adam Milsom (2/12) picked up the last two wickets in an over and Aston were all out for 136.

WCL Division 11 East

Alvis 1sts vs Rugby 3rds

Rugby’s third team finished their season with a nail-biting 7-run win in an exciting finale, but narrowly missed out on automatic promotion with the side’s around them winning too.

After choosing to bat first in search of the maximum 24-point victory, Rugby recovered well from the loss of an early wicket through Tom Binding (32) and Jag Barhey (26).

After they departed, Mo Karri (28) continued his side’s progress, before Tom Smith (50) and Rubans (45) added some momentum to give Rugby a total of 224/7 from their 45 overs.

After a run out early in their reply, Harry Bond (33) and Gareth Price (21) laid a good foundation for their side, allowing number five James Cook to play with freedom and quickly move the scoreboard along.

The Coventry outfit were well placed at 107/3, but Rugby’s spinners Karri (10-1-37-3) and Emily Naylor (7-0-37-3) turned the game in their sides favour as five wickets fell for 21 runs.

When the ninth wicket fell soon after, Alvis had collapsed to 143/9 and the game looked over.

However, Ben Stokes has recently shown what is possible from such perilous positions and Cook (101 not out) followed this example in a superb innings, reaching his hundred in the penultimate over.

He had added 74 runs for the final wicket with Peter Ball when he got a single from the first ball of the final over and they needed eight to win.

Happily for Rugby, Abhay Lal (3/34) held his nerve and bowled Ball (14) to secure a narrow win but, having finished third in the table, Rugby will have to wait to see if there are any changes in the divisions above them that grant an extra promotion spot or not.