Wellesbourne win fourth Cotswold Hills League Premier Division title in six seasons
Cotswold Hills League, Premier Division
Exhall & Wixford 198 all out
Wellesbourne won by six wickets
WELLESBOURNE were celebrating long into the night on Saturday as they overcame Exhall & Wixford to claim their fourth Cotswold Hills League Premier Division championship in six seasons.
With second-placed Bretforton hosting bottom side Overbury, Bourne knew that nothing less than victory would be enough for the title. And so it turned out to be as Dave Barnett’s side cruised to a six-wicket success.
Exhall won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first on what looked like a belter of a track. But they were soon in trouble as Noah Rose removed both openers to leave the home side 19-2.
Skipper Barry Weston made his intentions clear before he tried one big shot too many and wicketkeeper Matty Boyle took an excellent catch to leave Exhall 65-3. With Weston gone, Will Green decided he would pick up the tempo and he proceeded to play shots all around the ground.
Greg Ricketts claimed his second wicket to leave the home side 82-4, but there was no let up-from Green as he looked to take the game away from the visitors.
But with the score on 117, Green gave Sean Hopwood a smart return catch to depart for a superb 75 from just 38 balls.
Ricketts (4-53) then turned the screw with two more quick wickets and, with Hopwood (2-42) chipping in with another, Exhall found themselves in deep trouble at 125-8.
A combination of dropped catches and sensible batting then swung the game back in favour of the home side. Veteran Richard Layton and wicketkeeper Steve Armstrong put on an excellent partnership of 60 runs before the returning Rose (3-51) claimed Layton for 38.
Tom Stephenson (1-28) removed Armstrong for a handy 19, leaving Wellesbourne to score 199 for the title. And with news coming through that Bretforton had duly won, the equation was now a simple one.
Openers Nathan Edwards and Tommy Wheeler soon settled any early nerves as they commenced at a blistering pace. With Wheeler happy to play second fiddle, the total reached 50 in the eighth over before Edwards reached another fine 50 in the 13th. But he was to add only six more as he was bowled with the score on 85.
Sunni Bahi joined Wheeler and the pair continued to keep the score ticking along, with Wheeler now playing some attractive strokes. But with the score on 125, Wheeler tamely holed out for an excellent 43.
Youngster Ben Blakemore was next in and he and Bahi added another 27 before the latter holed out for 30 to leave Bourne still requiring 47 for victory. Skipper Barnett was determined to see his side home and with Blakemore surviving a big appeal the pair took the score to 198.
But with the scores level, Barnett was adjudged to be lbw for 14, leaving Ricketts to hit the winning run, with Blakemore remaining 39 not out.
Delighted skipper Barnett paid tribute to his squad after the game and was quick to point out that, with six players still in their teens, the future was looking very bright for the club. He also praised chairman Phil Rothwell for his sterling work on and off the field and dedicated the win to him and his team of volunteers.