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Purser returns in style as he runs Redditch ragged

Stratford’s Sam Douthwaite is congratulated after taking the wicket of Naseek Hussain at Swan’s Nest Lane. Photo: Mark Williamson
Stratford’s Sam Douthwaite is congratulated after taking the wicket of Naseek Hussain at Swan’s Nest Lane. Photo: Mark Williamson

DEXTER Purser returned in style as Stratford made up further ground on Birmingham and District League Division Three leaders Stourbridge with a convincing seven-wicket victory over Redditch at Swan’s Nest Lane on Saturday.

Opener Tom Field’s 46 handed Redditch a solid start, but once he was dismissed, James Urquhart (4-32) improved his tally of wickets for the season to 43.

Archie Walker joined in with three for 61 as the visitors were all out for 158.

A robust 91 from 66 balls by Purser, back after two weeks out with injury, then saw Stratford to victory in the 25th over.

“Dexter came back in and made it quite a ruthless run chase,” beamed Stratford skipper, Chris Whelan.

“He never gave them a sniff, which was nice. I was pleased to see him come back and take the game away from them.”

After losing the toss, Stratford were disappointed with bowling first on a wicket that was hard, but had a nice covering of live grass. Archie Walker led the way with an opening spell, which was as good as anything seen at Swan’s Nest Lane.

The Panthers managed to bowl as a partnership and create lots of pressure on the Redditch batsmen.

Urquhart then entered the game on the back of the hard work done by Walker and Sam Douthwaite, to apply the squeeze to the lower and middle order.

In combination with fellow spinner Harry Abell, Stratford managed to polish off the visitors for a well below par score of 160.

It was then Purser’s time to shine and he batted patiently against the new ball before cutting loose and dispatching the Redditch attack to all parts of the ground on his way to a destructive 91.

Purser was supported in the main by Australian import Declan Waddington (25) to ensure the run chase went smoothly as the Panthers reached their target for the loss of just three wickets.

Whelan added: “I’d like to give a deserved shout out to Harry Abell, who executed possibly the run out of season when diving full length to stop a cover drive, threw down the stumps mid roll to start a procession of wickets.

“He may not be built like Jonty Rhodes, but he certainly makes up for it with youthful exuberance in the field. He’s been a welcome addition to the first XI and certainly improved the quality of our fielding.”

Whelan was also delighted with the performance of Walker, who he feels has been Stratford’s star man so far this summer.

“He’s really come of age and is our player of the season so far,” Whelan said.

“It’s pleasing to see him take more responsibility with the ball each week. His worst performance this season is an eight out of ten.”

Stratford welcome title rivals Rugby to Swan’s Nest Lane this weekend.

Team: Purser, Langman, Waddington, Marney, Whelan, Urquhart, Walker, Abell, Walker, Noble, Douthwaite.

A DEPLETED Stratford 2nds took a creditable eight points as they settled for a losing draw at Redditch.

The Panthers took the bold step to bowl first on a dry and hot Entaco Club wicket in Redditch. Featuring newly returning Lee Clarke, fresh from a five-wicket haul the previous week and Richard Smith with the new ball to make early inroads.

Opener Stefan Jagielski played watchfully, as both sides knew that the short boundaries and quick outfield would pay off if a batsman could cash in.

Stratford stuck to their task and fielding plans under the heat, keeping the home side to 80-1 off 20 overs. Rotation of the bowlers was key to the breakthrough, with Muhammed Dogar’s PSL experience bowling wicket to wicket lines.

While Redditch tried to attack, wickets fell at crucial times and the 2nds’ best fielding performance of 2018 saw only 13 extras and James Harcourt only five byes behind the stumps as the home side stumbled to 225-8 from 50 overs. A makeshift batting line-up saw Rich Smith promoted to opener and Will Noble in at number three.

Henry Hopkins was bowled by Du Cros to one that sharply nipped back down the hill. Noble and Smith went out patiently seeing off the new ball. Harcourt dropped anchor, while captain Noble looked to rotate the strike against the spinners.

This watchful partnership saw Reddtich get more ragged and vocal in the field as Stratford passed 150.

Sadly, Harcourt perished with a lofted drive as the temperature heated up.

Dogar played with his customary skillset, of six, six, four out in the space of two overs just when it looked like Stratford would reach their target.

Noble fell for 88 to the returning Du Cross, who took 4-40 and with a long tail starting at seven, it was decided to settle for the losing draw on 205-6.

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