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Whelan delighted as Stratford get title challenge back on track

Chris Whelan
Chris Whelan

STRATFORD skipper Chris Whelan feels his side are “back on the bike” following Saturday’s thumping 167-run victory over Old Elizabethans.

After crashing to a 133-loss at home to Lichfield the previous weekend, a rejuvenated Stratford got their Birmingham League Division Three title challenge back on track at the Memorial Ground.

Stratford rattled up 281-7 with big hits from Alex Marney (87), Chris Whelan (68) and Declan Waddington (44).

Once again, James Urquhart proved to be Stratford’s main asset with the ball, taking six for 29, as the visitors folded to 114 all out.

Whelan was delighted with the intensity shown by all of the Panthers side, who have closed the gap on leaders Stourbridge following their losing draw against Handsworth.

“We’re back on the bike,” said a delighted Whelan.

“Everyone was really disappointed with the previous week. We all had the bit between our teeth and it culminated in a nice team performance.”

On Stratford’s title chances, Whelan added: “It’s definitely a three-way race. Stourbridge are only one win ahead and things can turn around very quickly. It’s all to play for.”

After winning the toss, the Panthers opted to bat first, looking to rack up the runs on a flat wicket with small boundaries.

With the loss of a couple early wickets, it was over to Marney and Waddington to steady the ship. Marney was the aggressor who looked to punish any loose deliveries. Waddington was the more patient, with his customary nuggety technique, which is far more Chris Tavare than David Warner.

The duo moved the score along at a steady rate, allowing the more destructive middle order to do the damage later on in the innings with Whelan’s boundary-filled 68 and Marney’s 87 being the foundation of a large score.

With the in-form duo of Urquhart

and Archie Walker, 280 was always going to be a tough chase for the OE batsmen.

Sam Douthwaite returned to form with a double down in the first over reducing the OEs to 0-2. It was a welcome return to form for the left armer, who has struggled for form in recent weeks.

Once again, Urquhart showed why he is the league’s leading wicket-taker and after the good work from the opening bowlers, he entered the fray to once again run through the middle order and tail to collect 6-29.

Meanwhile, Stratford 2nds recorded a 24 point victory over Old Elizabethans on Saturday.

Batting first, Stratford made 203, with Ed Cunynghame making 60. In reply, OEs were dismissed for 171 with the returning Lee Clarke taking five wickets.

“It was great to have Lee back in the side and his quality shone through as ever,” said skipper, Ben Pigott.

“Hopefully we can bring home another win at Redditch this weekend and continue our push to finish in the top three.”

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