Alstonefield Cricket Club made it two wins out of two with a perfectly measured run chase in the sunshine on Sunday. The opponents were Abbots Bromley, in a new fixture, which turned out to be a thrilling encounter between two well matched sides. Captain Simon Smith will have been delighted with the contribution made by each of the Gargoyles, as they restricted a strong looking batting line up to 149 for 8 and then responded with 150 for 3 with an over to spare. Man of the match Andy Bray excelled with bat and ball, but this 7 wicket win was a victory based on real team effort.
Bowling first on a damp wicket, the Gargoyles opening attack of Chris Wilkins and Ben King again looked the part and Wilkins soon had the Abbots captain Bailey back in the marquee with a beautifully concealed slower ball. He soon did it again, this time confusing the talented Leek. Captain Smith introduced all his bowlers and all responded. Andy Bray’s flight proved mesmeric, Richard Allen soon got into his rhythm and bowled a tight spell, Andy Farmer’s left arm line continues to surprise good batsmen and Tony Guest demonstrated his mastery of aggressive off spin. All took wickets and added to a slick run out by Ben King, some heroic, boundary preventing fielding by Rob Handscombe and sharp catches by John Clarke, Ben King again and the captain himself and the feeling was that there had been a job well done in containing a good side to 149 for 8 at tea.
Abbots Bromley’s response with the ball was impressive. The opening attack kept the experienced Andy Bray and Arthur Hack in check and after 10 overs the Gargoyles were well behind the asking rate at 25 for 1. Chris Wilkins batting at three was intent on injecting some aggression and slowly but surely he and Andy Bray batted themselves into mastery of the slow pitch and the accurate, youthful attack. Wilkins was eventually out for 44 and Bray went on to an unbeaten half century. When John Clarke joined Neil Shotton in the middle, the game was delicately balanced. With 7 overs remaining the Gargoyles needed 38 for victory.
Shotton’s legendary belief in his ability to perform under pressure was, on this occasion, well founded and he produced a pivotal display of unorthodox scoring shots in his unbeaten 19. His calmness rubbed off on to Clarke who scored runs off most of the balls he faced, rotating the strike and keeping the fielders guessing. Appropriately it was Shotton who scored the winning runs, concluding a wonderful afternoon’s cricket, played in a perfect spirit.
Abbots Bromley 149 for 8. Alstonefield 150 for 3. Alstonefield won by 7 wickets.