On Saturday, the first team travelled to Astwood Bank and recorded a fine 43 run victory after having been asked to bat first. Mohammed Ishtiaq (37) got the innings off to a fine start sharing a 108 run partnership for the second wicket with Rana Hassan. Hassan then shared a further century stand with Attiq Chishti (58), as he remained undefeated on a brilliant 145 as our innings closed on 263-4. Astwood Bank were then bowled out for 213 in reply, Aqab Ahmed and Laeq Chishti both taking two wickets in support of Nihal Shilar (5-27) as the team kept their promotion hopes intact.
The second team entertained Astwood Bank in the return fixture, in a game reduced to 35 overs a side due to rain. Batting first, we were indebted to veteran Ian Brown (81) as the innings closed on 181-9, with Richard James (28) providing handy runs in the middle order. With Jon Price (2-31), Joe Oakley (3-37) and Brown (4-29) all amongst the wickets, a thrilling end to the game saw Astwood Bank record a victory by the narrowest of margins, the winning runs coming from an outside edge off the last ball of the game with nine wickets down. Yet another narrow defeat for the seconds, who have now lost five games this season with their opponents either eight or nine wickets down in a story of what might have been…
West Bromwich Dartmouth were the visitors for the third team and they totalled 234-8 having been put into bat as Ollie Deakin (2-54) and Liam Kettle (3-26) proved to be the pick of our bowlers. In reply, we dug in to hang on for a losing draw against very strong opponents at 136-8 with Alfie Morris (39) top scoring.
The Bank Holiday Monday fixtures saw the first team entertain Coventry and North Warwickshire, and after winning the toss and electing to bowl, they dismissed their opponents for 101 as Attiq Chishti (2-24) provided excellent support to Nihal Shilar who took his tally of wickets for the weekend to ten in taking 5-18. Despite a couple of early wickets, Attiq Chishti (28 not out) and Laeq Chishti (41 not out) shared an unbroken stand of 68 to see the side home to victory. With other results going their way at the top of the table, the team go into the last three games of the season just seven points out of the promotion spots.
The second team travelled to league leaders Coventry for the return fixture, and after the old team had won the football yet again with two goals from Simon Parnaby - despite his apparent inability to remain on his feet, resembling Bambi on ice in the process - we soon found ourselves in trouble at 46-5 after the interesting dismissals of Michael Hartwell (bowled shouldering arms) and Simon Parnaby (run out by several yards due to a distinct lack of pace / suicidal call from Ross Parker), before good efforts from Callum Morrell (42), Ross Parker (46) and Joe Oakley (46) saw a reasonably competitive total of 182 posted. Despite a wicket apiece for Will Hinder, Joe Oakley and Joe Marson, coupled with 2-36 from Richard James, our hosts reached their target for the loss of five wickets with just over three overs to spare.
Sandwiched in between the weekends games was our annual Family Fun Day on Sunday, which although hampered by the wet weather was still well supported as ever and led to several of the second team travelling to Coventry being a little more sluggish than usual….
For me, just the one game on Monday. A couple of runs batting at number ten before dragging a filthy long hop on to my stumps, then an uneventful afternoon keeping wicket after the unusual – but rather nice – combination of fish fingers, pizza, cheese sandwiches and roast potatoes for tea! Next weekend sees the lengthy trip to Bromsgrove for the seconds (another new ground for me to play at if selected), before a club side take on the Shropshire Disability D40 side ahead of their national final in what promises to be an interesting game – especially for me as I will be playing for Shropshire against Penkridge….