Confidence returning as Stratford move out of relegation zone

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SKIPPER Mike Brown feels the confidence is returning to the Stratford team following Saturday’s eight-wicket win at Stourbridge.

The Panthers moved out of the Birmingham League Division Three relegation zone after dismissing the home side for just 131.

Jujhar Johal top scored with 76, but only one of his colleagues reached double figures as Perry Derrick finished with 6-43 and Sam Douthwaite took 3-32.

Openers Adam Baylis (59no) and John Price (41) then saw Stratford to an easy victory in just 25.2 overs.

Brown was delighted with the manner of the victory and said it proves they can be a match for anyone on their day.

“It’s very nice to get a couple of back-to-back wins and start moving up the table a bit,” he said.

“That’s the second time we have beaten them this year, so it proves to other teams and even to ourselves what we are capable of.

“We showed a bit more confidence against Stourbridge. There’s been a change in mentality in the team and a reaction since the Sentinel fixture where we were completely drummed.

“Everyone as an XI needed to step up on and off the pitch and fortunately we’ve done that.”

Saturday’s win saw Stratford complete a league double, against a team holding genuine hopes of promotion.

Having lost the toss, the Panthers were not disappointed to be asked to bowl first, with new ball pair Douthwaite and Brown keeping it tight throughout the first ten overs.

Left-armer Douthwaite (14-3-32-3) asked questions of the batsmen all through his mammoth 14-over spell and picked up the first wicket to fall.

This started a procession of wickets, with Brown (16-4-48-1) also chipping in. The main damage was done by Derrick, who found just enough turn to trouble the batsmen, ripping through the Stourbridge line-up on his way to 6-43.

Only opener Johal could cope with Derrick and the Panthers attack as he was eventually dismissed for 76, the Stourbridge innings came to an end on 131, aided by some sloppy Stratford fielding that let them get up and over 100.

When chasing a low total it is imperative that you get off to a good start and that was exactly what openers John Price and Adam Bayliss gave the away side.

Faced with some hostile new ball bowling they both played carefully, waiting for the bad balls, which when they came were put away well.

Soon the scoreboard was ticking over nicely and the score raced up past 50, both batters running well between the wickets and finding the boundaries regularly.

Price fell lbw for a well made 41, Rob West (20) then joined Bayliss and again played positively, taking the required runs to under ten before becoming O’Reilly’s second victim.

In the meantime, Bayliss had passed his second consecutive league 50, on his way to finishing 59 not out.

Off the fourth ball of the 25th over, David Bailey whipped a ball through mid-wicket to the fence to complete victory by eight wickets and a full 24-point haul.

Stratford host Newport at Swans Nest on Saturday, when the format returns to 50 overs win/lose cricket.

Stratford team v Newport: John Price, Adam Bayliss, Rob West, David Bailey, Chris Whelan, Chris Calcott, Perry Derrick, Josh Hickman, Anthony Pratley, Mike Brown.