Another busy week as the season gets into full swing, the under 19s making their first appearance of the season against C&R Hawks in a five wicket defeat on Wednesday. All Stars Cricket continued on Thursday, junior practice on Friday (both well supported as ever), and an under 9s tournament hosted on Sunday morning, as well as the usual senior games.
Despite the weather forecast from early in the week, Saturday morning was dry, and the first team travelled to third placed Wombourne for a game where we were ultimately frustrated by the weather when looking set for victory.
We battled to 180 all out when batting first, with several batsmen making contributions without going on to make a big score - Michael Hartwell (20), Mohammed Ishtiaq (21), Attiq Chishti (25), Mahroof Azam (30) and Shafiq Ahmed (32 not out) being the main run scorers. The Wombourne reply was in some trouble at 44-5 when the rain came, Laeq Chishti (3-29) and Rizwan Gulzar (2-14) gaining deserved reward for excellent opening spells, well supported by some good fielding before an early abandonment.
The second team hosted Sentinel, who batted first and posted a competitive target of 199, with Joe Oakley (2-39), Matt Jenkinson (3-27) and Ian Brown (4-35) the pick of the bowlers. Our reply was similar to the efforts of the first team, in that none of the batsmen made a major contribution despite getting decent starts – a problem that seems to be affecting all of the Saturday teams so far this season. Matthew Jenkinson (20), Simon Parnaby (21) and Jon Price (32) were top scorers as we were dismissed for 155 resulting in a 44 run defeat.
Swindon were the visitors as the third team provided better news, with a three wicket win ensuring a third successive victory. Swindon were dismissed for 118, Nadeem Tariq taking 2-31 and youngsters Will Hinder (1-26), Thomas Porter (1-18), Josh Baker (2-23) and Joe Hinder (2-17) all getting amongst the wickets. A nervy reply saw us lose wickets at regular intervals, but Alfie Morris (26) and Adam Butt (27) ensured the victory target was passed with some 20 overs to spare.
The fourth team travelled to take on Springvale third team and recorded a useful total of 193-9 from their 45 overs, Myles Davis (30) and captain Rob Baker (47) providing good support to youngster Harry Turnbull who recorded his maiden senior half century (52), though the highlight of the innings was surely the ninth wicket partnership of five between Richard Beeken and Mark Axcell, which also resulted in an increase in sales of Radox in the Penkridge area on Saturday night!
An unusual tea was provided by Springvale - collected from a nearby KFC much to the disappointment of a few players who had been promoted to the third team when they found out that evening! Unfortunately, the wet conditions meant that our bowlers struggled to grip the ball towards the end of the Springvale innings, as the hosts ran out winners by six wickets despite 3-60 from Richard Birch.
On Sunday, the first team entertained Aston Unity, and recorded an impressive 258-1 from 40 overs. Joe Oakley (90) and Jacob Ratcliffe making his maiden century (118 not out) sharing an opening partnership of 235, falling just 12 runs short of setting a new club record for the first wicket. The visitors never really threatened to get close to the target, closing on 215-6 with Matt Jenkinson taking 3-27 for Penkridge.
For my game on Saturday, I played in the first team at Wombourne – one of my favourite grounds, set right in the middle of the village surrounded by shops, tennis courts, a bowling green and a very busy social club.
In a mixed afternoon, I managed to get hit in the ribs trying to pull a short ball when batting (resulting in a spectacular bruise), got out when slapping a long hop straight to point with a few overs left as we looked to up the scoring rate, kept wicket nicely (taking two catches), and scored a fine goal in the pre-match warm up that would have graced the Scotland v England game at Hampden Park later that afternoon – the second half of which we were able to watch whilst hoping in vain that the rain cleared up.
Unfortunately, we were unable to get back on to the pitch – but were greeted by the wonderful (and very appetising) smell from the local Indian restaurant drifting across the ground later in the afternoon.
With junior games throughout the week, and a full programme of junior coaching and senior games it promises to be a very busy week again. On a personal note, I look likely to be playing in the first team at home to Oswestry on Saturday before travelling to Lancashire with the Shropshire D40 squad on Sunday for a game which could see us clinch the North Section title.