Two more wins from Bank Holiday games
Rugby’s 1st XI enjoyed a fruitful Bank Holiday weekend, securing 40 points after successful run chases against Old Hill and Redditch.
The victories further consolidated second place in the table for Rugby, who are on 305 points and have a opened a gap over the chasing pack of Pelsall (284), Stratford (265) and Old Hill (254).
However, with three games to go, leaders Stourbridge also took maximum points this weekend to maintain a 27-point advantage over Rugby, although they do have the tougher run-in of fixtures, including the clash between the top two sides on September 8.
Captain Owen Edwards was delighted by his side’s performances: “We had two tough matches this weekend and the boys really stepped up when it was needed.
“Saturday was a particularly tough fixture, so going away to a club like Old Hill and getting such a convincing result was a great effort. The partnership between Hughes and Parker was one of the best I’ve seen, especially against quality bowling like that.
“Then it was pleasing to back it up on Monday and beat Redditch, especially after we lost at their place in our worst performance of the season.
“Powelly had a great game, but the stand-out performer over the two matches was Lee Golding. I’ve played with Lee for many years, but he’s taken his game to a new level this summer, bowling better than I’ve ever seen him and causing havoc with the new ball.”
ECB Birmingham League
Old Hill vs Rugby
Rugby produced one of their best performances of the season to canter to an eight-wicket victory at Old Hill and start the bank holiday weekend in style.
Owen Edwards won the toss and had little hesitation in choosing to bowl first in conditions that looked tailor made for his seam attack.
Lee Golding immediately found his rhythm, continuing his recent form and settling into a superb opening spell that put Rugby in the box seat.
Golding picked up the first wicket in the third over of the match, but Zain Shahid steadied the ship and started to build the foundations for Old Hill’s innings.
However, with the score on 33, Golding removed Shahid (23) and Ravi Nagra (0) in the same over, sparking a period when five wickets fell for just six runs.
Matt Ewer (10-5-14-2) soon joined Golding (10-2-31-4) and took the next two wickets, before Golding removed Naqaash Tahir (0) and reduced the hosts to 39-6.
A brief rain break followed, allowing Old Hill to regroup and they fought back when play resumed through captain John Wright and Zahid Kafiat.
Rugby’s change bowlers didn’t hold the same threat as the new ball attack and the batsmen worked hard to get in, then started to expand their game.
George Terry finally ended their 74 run stand for the seventh wicket, bowling Wright (38), but Kafiat (52) ensured his side posted a competitive total.
Terry (2-44) and Neal McGrath (1-15) took another wicket each, as the innings closed on 167-9.
Old Hill’s fight back had given their renowned seam attack something to work with and the momentum continued to swing back in their favour at the start of Rugby’s reply. Tahir and Kafiat accounted for both Rugby openers cheaply, as Webb Ellis Roaders stuttered to 16-2.
Henry Parker now joined Michael Hughes at the wicket and the pair recognised the need to absorb the early pressure and get through the new ball.
Both batsmen did so effectively and life became easier when the Staffordshire side turned to their change bowlers, as Rugby began to find the boundary regularly.
Neither batsmen gave a chance, as they took Rugby passed 100 and both reached half centuries.
Parker hit the ball powerfully down the ground, whilst Hughes was his usually busy self, manipulating the ball into gaps.
Their partnership blossomed into an unbroken 155-run stand that carried Rugby to victory in the 38th over.
Rugby v Redditch
Rugby continued their impressive recent form with a fifth consecutive win and a third successful run chase in as many matches, as Mike Powell starred with bat and ball.
Owen Edwards won the toss and asked Redditch to bat first on a good track, but under gloomy skies that looked favourable for his seam attack.
Lee Golding continued to enjoy his purple patch with the new ball and took just two balls to get Rugby’s first wicket, when the dangerous Rizwan Choudhry drove limply to Edwards and mid off.
Golding (2-30) and Matt Ewer (1-33) bowled unchanged for the first 20 overs for the second time over the weekend but, having reduced Redditch to 39-3, the Worcestershire side fought back.
Opener Tom Field was in good touch, rarely playing a false shot and being ruthless on anything over-pitched, whilst Haris Ali Mohammed played the supporting role.
They added 57 and weathered the early storm, before Powell trapped Mohammed (27) lbw.
Field (73) continued to bat well, until he was unlucky to get one that kept low and fell in the same fashion to the impressive Powell (9.4-2-19-2).
Rugby sensed an opening at 129-5 but, after a fortuitous start, Ghulam Moyhuddin (53) upped the tempo and was well supported by Australian import Tim Fitch (30 not out).
Their efforts carried Redditch to 214-6 from 50 overs, including 41 runs in the last four overs, despite a late wicket to George Terry.
With the Webb Ellis Road track arguably playing as well as it has all season, Rugby felt this score was still below par and openers Raj Chohan and Powell gave them the perfect start.
The pair began watchfully against the new ball but, once Chohan started to find the boundary, Redditch were forced to change their bowlers earlier than expected.
They had rotated through seven bowlers in an effort to break the partnership, but both openers passed their fifty and took complete control.
The score had reached 140 without loss, before Redditch finally struck, as Powell (61) hooked a bouncer straight to deep square leg.
Moyhuddin (2-37) was the pick of Redditch’s attack and removed Chohan (65) soon after, as Redditch gave themselves a chance.
After a weekend of pad rash, Rugby’s normally run-hungry middle order duo of Edwards (2) and Ewer (0) fell cheaply, but Hugh Cochrane joined Michael Hughes in a partnership that calmed any nerves.
Although Hughes (16) fell late in the day, Cochrane looked in great touch with 37 not out from just 24 balls and carried Rugby to victory in the 46th over.
Rugby 2nds v Berkswell 2nds
A depleted Rugby 2nd XI put in an admirable display, but eventually lost by five wickets to title-chasing Berkswell.
Rugby chose to bat first, but slumped to 7 for 3 with former Leicestershire bowler Dave Brignull causing problems for the top order.
Mo Sadiq and Kurran Barhey steadied the ship but, when Barhey (4) was dismissed with the score on 37-4, it looked like Rugby would collapse to a low total.
However, Jon Sage joined Sadiq and the pair had other ideas, as two of the side’s stalwarts formed a superb partnership.
What started as a rebuilding job turned into a huge partnership and they added 178 for the fifth wicket, before Sage (79) was eventually dismissed.
Jack Reidy (5-38) made light work of the lower order, but Sadiq (90) helped Rugby to 239-8 from their 45 overs.
Berkswell’s strong batting line-up started positively, but Jack Coleman removed both openers. Missing the majority of their usual bowling attack, Rugby relied heavily on Sadiq’s spin to finish with 9-1-40-2.
He didn’t have much support from Rugby’s other bowlers though and, despite a late wicket for Tom Mitchell, Awais Mohammed (57 not out) secured Berkswell’s win in the 42nd over.
Redditch 2nds vs Rugby 2nds
Rugby 2nds travelled to Redditch on Monday looking to make amends for Saturday’s defeat.
Skipper Charlie Robards lost the toss, but Rugby were surprisingly invited to field on a damp, overcast day and a dodgy looking pitch.
With bowlers missing this weekend, Jack Coleman stepped up from the 3rds to fill the void with an impressive spell against Berkswell and he continued his form here taking 2-21 in his 9 overs including dangerous opener Naseek Hussain who was caught behind for just two.
Redditch’s innings took some time to get going with opener Abdul Jabbar taking 36 overs for his score of 34 and Abhay Lal bowling an economical spell of 1-14 from nine overs.
Skipper Liam Phelan increased the tempo with a run-a-ball 19 and man mountain Steven du Cros smashed 31 late on to take Redditch to a respectable 161-9 in their 45 overs. A flurry of late wickets fell to Suj Barhey (3-26) and Tom Mitchell (3-49), helping restrict the flow of runs.
With the dubious nature of the pitch, Rugby opted to open with a pinch-hitter Barhey to try and take any wind out of the Redditch sails. Despite losing opening partner Jon Sage (5) and Zachary Wenham (0) in successive deliveries, Barhey had no trouble hitting the ball to all parts in a rapid 46 which included three sixes.
His knock set the base for a comfortable run chase as veterans Robards and Mo Sadiq batted sensibly to take Rugby within touching distance before Sadiq fell for 43 in what was a fine weekend of batting for him.
Robards finished unbeaten on 41 as he was joined by Lal who struck the winning runs to see Rugby home with 15 overs to spare.
Warwickshire Division 9 E
Ambleside 2nds v Rugby 3rds
Rugby’s 3rd string finished the season with a winning draw to secure fourth place, their highest WARCL finish. Rugby batted first and their score of 226 all out was built around Zachary Wenham’s second century in three weeks.
Wenham (115 not out) was well supported by young opener Jack Crinigan (21) and stand-in captain Keith Bradbury (26).
Ambleside’s reply never really threatened to reach Rugby’s score, despite Neil Simmerson’s 48, but Rugby couldn’t get the final two wickets they needed for the win.
Rubans (2-15), Nanak Singh (2-15) and Abhay Lal (2-27) were the pick for Rugby’s bowlers, whilst Liam Slaughter and Emily Naylor claimed a wicket each in Ambleside’s 162-8.