The first team extended their lead at the top of the table with a convincing 117 run over visiting Astwood Bank on Saturday. A solid batting effort saw the hosts close their innings on 305-9, with useful contributions from Laeq Chishti (44), Mohammed Ishtiaq (49) and Attiq Chishti (50) in support of top scorer Rana Hassan (73). Astwood Bank offered some resistance before eventually being bowled out with just 13 balls of the match remaining, Aatif Ali (2-57) and Laeq Chishti (2-36) were amongst the wickets, along with Aqab Ahmed (4-43) as we recorded an important win and continued the fine start to the season.
The second team travelled to Astwood Bank for the return fixture and were beaten by five wickets in a game that was closer than the eventual margin of victory suggested. Batting first, we were in plenty of trouble at 43/5, but thanks to Joe Marson (26) and Ross Parker (48) providing good support to Callum Morrell who top scored with a responsible unbeaten 50, a competitive total of 185-9 was recorded. Whilst wickets proved hard to come by for us, tidy and economical spells of bowling from Richard James (1-50) and Jon Price (2-48) looked as though they may secure a winning draw before a late flurry of runs saw Astwood Bank home to victory with three overs to spare.
With the fourth team game conceded by opponents Tamworth, the thirds were the only other team in action on Saturday as they travelled to West Bromwich Dartmouth where they finished their innings on 196-9 having been asked to bat first. Mohammed Shafiq (40) and Alfie Morris (52) were the main contributors to the total, which was passed with some ease as the hosts secured a seven-wicket win, Chris Green (1-24) being the pick of our bowlers.
For the second consecutive week, there was a maiden century for one of the younger players from the club in the first team game on Sunday. This week it was the turn of Jack Pope to pass the milestone with an excellent unbeaten 110, made even more special given that he was batting with his father Gary when he reached three figures. With Callum Morrell (80) recording his third successive half century, an imposing total of 292-6 was recorded from our 40 overs. The Stafford reply never really threatened the target, and they were bowled out for 143 as the wickets were shared around between our bowling attack with Will Hinder, Joe Marson, Ryan Ferguson and the evergreen Gary Pope on his first appearance of the season taking two wickets apiece.
The second team travelled to Alrewas and posted a competitive 197-5 from their 40 overs. Adam Beeken (26), Peter Parnaby (35) and Duncan Horobin (36 not out) were amongst the runs in support of youngster Sam Horobin who batted patiently for his career best 67. Alrewas made short work of the run chase, recording a five-wicket win despite the best efforts of the Penkridge bowlers who all bowled well with little reward, Duncan Horobin (2-28) the most successful of the visiting attack.
With one under nines team taking part in a mini tournament at Church Eaton - beating Brewood, Codsall and the hosts convincingly and our other under nines team acquitting themselves well in another mini tournament at Rugeley on Sunday morning, as well as both of our ladies teams – the Penk Panthers and the Penk Pumas – also faring well at Rugeley in the softball tournament that afternoon, it made for a very good and generally successful weekend.
My weekend involved playing at two away grounds for the first time – Astwood Bank and Alrewas, which given the fact I’ve been playing cricket for longer than I care to remember is quite unusual! Saturday and the lengthy trip to Astwood Bank revealed a lovely ground. The old team won the pre-match football 4-2, our passing style (with little running involved) paid dividends as Jon Price with two spectacularly scuffed goals, and Simon Parnaby with a goal completely out of keeping with anything else either he or his team (Sunderland) have produced this year to maintain our winning run.
My first duck of the season after hitting a full toss to mid on, coupled with some byes and getting fined for my arms not being long enough to reach the stumps and effect a legside stumping saw me win the “muppet of the day” hat for the most fines for the first (but probably not the last) time this season. Another nice ground at Alrewas on Sunday, and a handful of runs before being caught by a fine diving catch at fine leg (somewhat out of keeping with the rest of the fielding on display during the game!) completed a decidedly average weekend with the bar for me, even if I kept wicket decently on both days.
Another full week and weekend of fixtures ahead, and with our annual live band night – this time “Party on the Pitch” with a band playing music from the 80s (which is about the last time I had hair) on Saturday night, it promises to be another good and entertaining weekend for the club.