STRATFORD skipper Mike Brown feels his bowlers need to show more consistency following last Saturday’s run-fest against Sentinel.
The Panthers failed to follow up their opening-day victory over Astwood Bank, as they fell 47 runs short of chasing Sentinel’s mammoth 306.
Sentinel arrived in Stratford with an attacking game plan and it worked nicely as Craig Heath (108no), Mal Serplet (81) and David Laird (55) all hit big scores on a good batting wicket at Swans Nest Lane.
Brown admitted: “We didn’t bowl or field particularly well, certainly in comparison to the previous week.
“But I must not take anything away from Sentinel. They came out with a plan to be aggressive early on and they took the game away from us.
“We also gave away too many extras and we have to tighten that up. Those 27 runs could be a difference in a game at some point.
“As a bowling unit, we just need to be more consistent and hit the right areas, which creates pressure.”
Having won the toss and electing to bat, the Shropshire visitors, playing only their second ever Birmingham League fixture, lost opener Matthew Richards cheaply, however this was Stratford’s only early success as Sentinel’s attacking approach paid dividends.
All of the batsmen played shots and despite a number of near misses, the Panthers attack couldn’t find the regular breakthroughs.
The pick of the home bowlers was Archie Walker, who consistently made scoring difficult.
Once he took the wicket of opener David Laird for 55, any thoughts that Stratford could drag back the scoring rate and take more wickets were soon quashed by the Sentinel four and five.
They put on a stand of more than 160, taking the score beyond 300 in the process.
Number five Heath eventually finished 108 not out from 91 balls. Stratford knew
to have any chance of winning the game they had to get off to a flying start and that’s exactly what returning opener John Price gave them, reaching 77-1 off ten overs.
However, the introduction of Sentinel’s three-pronged spin attack slowed the Stratford scoring rate down, which coincided with the loss of wickets.
Once Price departed for 74 the outlook looked bleak and needed something special to turn it around.
Jake Salmon (44 off 37 balls) and Chris Calcott’s 42 from 22 balls (five sixes) turned the game on its head and suddenly it was Stratford back in the driving seat with just over six runs per over required off the last ten.
The loss of Salmon and Calcott in consecutive overs ended the Stratford hope as the run rate required grew and last wickets fell.
The Panthers will bid to get their promotion push back on track when they face Nuneaton this Saturday.
“It’s imperative for us to get back to winning ways,” Brown added.
“Our goal is still promotion. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy – in this division every game will be a scrap for points.”
Jake Salmon will miss the Nuneaton game due to exams, while Gareth Langman drops down to the second team.
Replacing them will be the experienced duo of Rob West and Chris Whelan.
Stratford: Rob West, John Price, David Bailey, Adam Bayliss, Chris Whelan, Dexter Purser, Chris Calcott (wk), Adrian Witts, Perry Derrick, Archie Walker, Mike Brown (c).