CRICKET SLIDESHOW: Hard-fought win keeps Rugby in top four

Pictures from 3rds’ game with Oakfield 2nds

Warwickshire Cricket League

Rugby 3rd XI wicket keeper Tom Smith in their game with Oakfield 2nds on Saturday    PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER

Rugby 3rd XI wicket keeper Tom Smith in their game with Oakfield 2nds on Saturday PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER

Premier Division

Rugby v Aston Manor

A great team effort from Rugby secured their third consecutive win in a hard-fought encounter against Aston Manor, as the sun beat down on Webb Ellis Road.

Owen Edwards won the toss and had no hesitation in choosing to bat first, given the hot weather, but Aston Manor’s new ball attack made early inroads.

Ryan Littlejohn bowling for the 3rds against Oakfield 2nds

Ryan Littlejohn bowling for the 3rds against Oakfield 2nds

Only Asaad Qureshi (15) reached double figures, as Rugby lost their top three with just 21 runs on the board.

Edwards and Matt Ewer (13) began to repair the damage, but Ewer was bowled by Recordo Gordon to leave Rugby in real trouble on 53-4 in the 12th over.

This brought Henry Wilkins to join Edwards in the middle. Both men rode their luck, but changed the momentum back in Rugby’s favour with a quick-fire 62-run partnership, before Wilkins (41) was caught hooking a short ball to deep square leg.

Edwards (58) and Henry Parker (19) continued to move the scoreboard along, but a flurry of wickets left Rugby struggling on 168-8 with 15 overs remaining.

Akshay Vaghela bowling to Oakfield 2nds at Hart Field

Akshay Vaghela bowling to Oakfield 2nds at Hart Field

However, a crucial innings from Lee Golding justified his promotion to number 9, and ensured Rugby posted a challenging total.

Golding (48) mixed watchful defence with some lustily-hit boundaries, adding 63 runs for the last two wickets and carrying Rugby to 231 all out from 46 overs.

Clement Smith was the pick of Aston Manor’s attack, with 12-0-74-5.

It was a strange innings from Rugby, with runs coming in splurges, but too many careless dismissals stopped them building towards a bigger total and their final score looked marginally under par.

Yet, if Rugby’s innings followed an unusual nature, what followed in Aston Manor’s reply was far more bizarre.

Their captain Gordon opened the innings and the ex-Warwickshire man immediately showed his intent, striking the ball cleanly and finding the boundary with ease. But it was like a different game was being played when he was off strike, as Rugby’s bowlers soon got among the wickets.

The new ball pairing of Ewer (12-2-58-2) and Wilkins (12-1-57-4) put in huge efforts in the scorching conditions and shared the first six wickets.

Ewer moved the ball dramatically off the seam, while Wilkins swung the ball dangerously and also claimed a sensational return catch to remove the dangerous Smith.

When Golding was introduced and picked up the seventh wicket, Aston Manor had slumped to 96-7 and the seven dismissed batsmen had contributed just 17 runs between them.

However, Gordon was still at the crease, scoring freely and finally received some support from number 9 Adam Nevitt in a partnership of 54, as they game motored towards a tense conclusion.

Gordon brought up his century with a big six off Naresh Kaushal but Rugby’s spinner struck back the very next ball, tossing up a leg spinner and the Aston Manor skipper miscued it to long on.

He’d scored 103 from 79 balls out of his team’s 150-8, but Aston Manor were not going to roll over after he fell and continued to move the scoreboard along, as Rugby began to tire in the heat.

Suddenly the score had moved onto 195-8 and it looked like Aston Manor’s tail were going to carry them to an unlikely win, when Edwards brought himself onto bowl and, having not bowled all season due to a knee injury, struck with just his third ball.

Aston Manor battled on and another 17 runs were added, before Kaushal (2-34) returned to the attack and finally claimed the tenth wicket with the Birmingham outfit falling 18 runs short on 213.

“It was a great game of cricket and a really pleasing one to win,” said Edwards. “We don’t seem to play in many close matches, because we tend to play really well and win big, or completely capitulate and lose heavily.

“It was a really tough match and we didn’t play our best cricket, but found a way to get the win. On such a hot day, it was a massive effort from our seam bowlers to get us into such a good position and then we just about held our nerve at the end.”

The 24-point win didn’t move Rugby up the table from fourth, but a seventh win in nine matches for the Webb Ellis Roaders sees them just 15 points from the top spot in a top four that are tightly bunched together and pulling away from the rest of the division.

WARCL Division 3

Aston Unity 1sts vs Rugby 2nds

Rugby’s second string succumbed to a six-wicket defeat on Saturday, as a depleted bowling attack struggled to defend 280 in a high-scoring encounter.

Batting first, Rugby recovered from the loss of a wicket in the first over thanks to Hugh Cochrane (42), Vishaal Rathod (31) and Mo Sadiq (31).

It was Abhay Lal (83) who provided the biggest contribution, while youngsters Shreyas Honnalli (22 not out) and Liam Slaughter (18 not out) had some fun at the end of the innings to propel their side to 280/9.

Dave Marshall picked up an early wicket in Aston Unity’s reply, before tight spells from Cochrane (12-0-48-2) and Sadiq (12-2-35-1) put the visitors in the driving seat.

However, without any more regular bowling options, Aston Unity’s Adam Maddams (77 not out) and Matt Perry (110 not out) launched into Rugby’s fill-in bowlers and raced to victory in the 47th over.

Division 9 East

Rugby 3rds vs Oakfield 2nds

This local derby turned into a run feast at Hart Field, as both teams dominated with the bat, before Oakfield secured a winning draw in a close-fought contest.

The Long Lawford side batted first and, despite losing two early wickets, were soon scoring quickly through Glyn Vaughan (49) and Chris Goodwin (66).

An impressive spell from Akshay Vaghela (10-1-48-2) picked up some important wickets, but a brutal stand between Shozab Mohammed (71) and Herman Claassen (63 not out) blasted Oakfield to 306-9 from their 45 overs.

Rubans (10-3-39-1) was the tightest Rugby bowler, while Ryan Littlejohn (2 for 63), Tom Palmer (2 for 59) and Tom Binding (2 for 49) got among the wickets.

Rugby were not daunted by such a big total and started confidently through Ash Koria (26) and Binding (29), before Vaghela struck 61 in his first match of the season.

Gurj Rupal (3 for 53) took wickets in the middle overs, before Rich Morgan (71 not out) and Tom Smith (41 not out) tried their best to get Rugby over the line, finishing 10 runs short on 296-6.