STRATFORD recorded a much-needed victory over visitors Nuneaton last Saturday in their battle to remain in the Birmingham League Division Three.
After losing an important toss and being asked to bat first at Swans Nest Lane, the Panthers’ opening pair of John Price and Adam Bayliss played carefully against some good swing bowling.
Scoring was difficult and after 10 overs the score read 22-0, importantly though both players applied themselves and began to pick up the rate over the next 10 as scoring became easier. Price was cruelly ran out backing up at the non-striker’s end for a well made 35, despite Bayliss passing his maiden league 50 for the club he was to soon fall as Stratford slipped from 90-0 to 97-4 in quick succession.
In-form David Bailey and Chris Whelan took their time in getting in. They began to pick up singles more regularly and then boundaries as their partnership passed 50.
Both players put pressure on the Nuneaton attack and recorded half-centuries of their own, before falling trying to up the run rate in the last five overs. Stratford ended up being bowled out from the last ball of the innings for 224.
Leg spinner Jason Jakeman was the pick of the away attack, taking 6-79 from his 17 overs.
A buoyant Stratford took the field knowing that would be a good score on a pitch that wasn’t going to be easy to chase on. However, they needed to get off to a good start.
Sam Douthwaite and Mike Brown gave them just that, picking up two wickets apiece and keeping the runs down as Nuneaton reached 45-4 off the first 20 overs.
Stratford were very much in the driving seat now and continued to pick up wickets. Perry Derrick (1-9) removed the dangerous Jakeman whilst Anthony Pratley again impressed, taking 3-16, as the Nuneaton middle and lower order struggled against the spin.
At this stage it became clear that the away side’s intentions were not to get bowled out and to try block out the remaining 15 overs. The returning Brown (4-34) ended any hopes of that, though, as he took the final two wickets and give Stratford the full 24-point win.
This weekend, Stratford head to fellow relegation battlers Handsworth, who lie just one place above them in the table.
More in this week’s Herald.