LEAMINGTON clung on for a draw in a nail-biting finish at Barnards Green in Saturday’s Birmingham League Division One contest.
Leamington were seeking an unlikely win when they were 160-5 chasing the promotion-chasing hosts’ 271 all out, but then a 40-run ninth-wicket stand helped them survive for a losing draw. The nine points gained were enough to push Spa off the foot of the table.
Green batted first on a beautiful day in the shadow of the Malvern Hills and their total of 271 all out was based almost entirely on the formidable Ryan Tongue. Opening the batting, he plundered Leamington’s bowling, scoring 162 in 148 balls before becoming the ninth man out. He notched 13 boundaries and ten sixes in an imperious knock.
His partners were unable to match him, as Leamington’s bowlers plugged away. Oli Swift with 30 and 27 from Phil Banks were the only other notable contributions, as Green were dismissed for 271 with three overs unused.
The pick of Leamington’s attack was Matt Davison who claimed 4-47. Jon Wigley (3-62) and Tom Warner (2- 58) bowled with credit, although Spa suffered from the lack of a front-line spinner.
Phil Harris opened up Leamington’s top order claiming three cheap wickets, before Sulaiman Hussain (20) and Lee Hopkins steadied the ship. In fact all the middle and late order knuckled down and, at 160-5, Leamington were in with a shout of an unlikely win.
Tongue returned to claim Matt Payne for 21 and then that man Harris came to the fore once more. Hopkins became his fifth victim for a well-crafted 82 and Max Kenny was run out for 29, leaving Leamington hanging on perilously at 200-8.
However, Davison and Warner batted well adding 40 for the ninth wicket and, although Warner was bowled for 23, Davison hung on for an unbeaten 20, as Leamington earned the draw, closing on 250-9. Leamington 2nd XI welcomed Astwood Bank to Arlington Avenue and eased to a three-wicket win in Second XI Premier Division.
Bank chose to bat first on what proved to be a two-paced wicket which rewarded batsmen who were patient and got on the front foot. Many of Bank’s batters made starts but none built a match-defining innings as Leamington took wickets at regular intervals, although not always with unplayable deliveries.
Joe Midgley was the lead bowler and his 4-37 will grab the attention of the First XI selectors. He was supported by some good catching as Bank struggled to 194-9 – a total that seemed at least 30 below par.
Leamington’s response owed much to David Hawkes who kept out the good balls and despatched the bad as he breezed to 50 in the 17th over. Fluency remained a challenge and, although Jimbo Williams played a nice cameo, Hawkes paved the way for victory.
With a second league century of the season in sight, Hawkes was surprised by a beauty from Bank’s skipper Andy Williams, leaving the Spa batsman bowled for 97. Two more quick wickets fell to Williams as Leamington wobbled but Jim Gethins was playing nicely and he saw Leamington to victory, making an unbeaten 27, with four overs to spare.
A shambolic batting performance from Spa’s third string saw them bowled out for 164 on a blameless wicket, gifting Cotswold Hills League Premier Division leaders Norton Lindsey an extra handful of overs to chase a simple target.
Manpreet Gill and James Cowan got Leamington off to a good start, but they stumbled and the total never looked sufficient. Andy Dewar took four wickets for Norton.
Leamington performed better in the field, with three catches for skipper Matt Dale, but Norton skated to a six-wicket win, leaving Leamington rooted to the foot of the table.
The 4th team squeezed to a three-run win at Mickleton on Saturday in Cotswold Division Four.
The visitors’ 199-7 owed much to 65 from Mark Davison and a couple of useful cameos. Mickleton, aided by a handful of dropped catches, looked on course for a win, but chances began to stick and they rather crumbled to finish three runs short of Leamington, with Toby Askin bowling well at the death.