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Arthur shows he’s the king of consistency

Stratford's Arthur Walker fires one in against Rugby on Saturday. Photo: Mark Williamson
Stratford's Arthur Walker fires one in against Rugby on Saturday. Photo: Mark Williamson

STRATFORD skipper Chris Whelan hailed the “raw talent” of Arthur Walker after the Stratford seam bowler tormented Rugby with a six-wicket haul on Saturday.

Walker took six for 87 as title-chasing Stratford claimed a winning draw in a rain-affected clash at Swan’s Nest Lane.

The result saw the Panthers close the gap on Birmingham and District Division Three leaders Stourbridge to just six points, whose match at Redditch was abandoned.

After a dry spell at the start of the season, the floodgates have opened for young Walker, who has stepped seamlessly into the shoes of former skipper Mike Brown.

“Arthur is, without doubt, the find of the season so far,” said Whelan.

“The consistency that Arthur has brought this season, added to to the raw talent he has shown in glimpses, is really pleasing.

“He’s led from the front, set the tone with the new ball and gets good players out at the top of the order.”

After losing the toss again at Swan’s Nest Lane, Stratford found themselves in the field and they were not at their usual best with the new ball.

The Panthers bowled both sides of the wicket, which allowed the Rugby top order to get off to a flyer.

It was the introduction of spinner James Urquhart that managed to slow the scoring rate, although he was unable to pick up the wickets he has come accustomed too. He found the top order a different challenge from his usual job of polishing off the tail.

Walker (6-87) was the undoubtedly the stand-out bowler of the day, as the bi barrel-chested seamer continued his recent purple patch with the ball.

With the Rugby batsman going well throughout the innings, they managed to post 269-8, which was going to be a difficult chase.

After a heavy and long period of rain, it was obvious the outright win was never going to be possible, a frustration for Panthers skipper Whelan, since the current format of the Birmingham League does not allow this to happen once the game has been interrupted by rain.

However, with the target of 145 in 21 overs the score for the winning draw, it was over to the Panthers’ top order to put on a big show for the loyal supporters who had hung around to see the conclusion of the game.

Dexter Purser again led the way with 45. However, he gave it away with a rush of blood to the head and chased a wide delivery to gift Rugby his wicket.

Supporting knocks from Whelan and Will Noble meant it was left to the mercurial Gareth Langman to hit the winning runs, smashing a rapid 42 to see the Panthers to 160, meaning an extra batting point and the winning draw was secured.

“It was nice to keep the pressure on Stourbridge at the top,” Whelan added.

“We’ve been making good ground on them recently and hopefully if we can string three or four wins together over this next period, then I can see no reason why we shouldn’t be challenging them for the top honours in the league.”

Meanwhile, Stratford 2nds had to settle for a losing draw in their Second S 2nd XI Division match at Rugby 2nds.

Adam Joseph (102) cracked a brilliant century to lead the Panthers to 193-5, which looked like a good score.

The rain then arrived and Rugby’s innings was reduced to 26 overs, leaving them a target of 130.

With Rugby at 80-6, Stratford appeared to be in a strong position, but Alex Smith guided them to the winning draw with a fluent 41 not out.

“Adam looked a class apart on a tough wicket,” said stand-in skipper, Ben Pigott.

“He held the innings together brilliantly. “He’s looked good this year and it’s been great to have him back more regularly.”

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