Bromyard 1st XI went down to a 62 run defeat away at WCL Premier Division strugglers Bewdley. After some Friday night rain visiting skipper Greg Leighton won what seemed to be an important toss on what looked like a good wicket, but which proved to be damp underneath and on which several balls ‘stopped’, and chose to bowl first. Leighton himself made the first breakthrough in the 5th over when left-hander Michael Harris (12) got a thin edge through to Ian Bullock, standing up to the stumps, and was well caught behind to make it 16-1. That brought Bewdley’s skipper and key batsman Rob Combes to the middle, and he was making steady progress along with former Quatt run machine Adrian Evans, reaching 39-1 after 10 overs, before Evans (12) offered a simple bat-pad catch to Harvey Ree at short leg off the last ball of off-spinner Dave Taylor’s first over.
Rob Willis finished his opening spell soon afterwards and was replaced by Nick Leighton’s slow-medium inswingers, but Rob Combes and Bewdley 2nds’ stalwart Connor Franklin continued to make steady progress on a pitch that was not conducive to fluent strokeplay. The score had advanced to 90 in the 26th over when Franklin looked to repeat a drive over the infield of Nick Leighton’s bowling, but holed out to Edd Oliver at long-on for 16. Another couple of steady overs from Nick Leighton and Dave Taylor followed, Taylor finishing his 10 over spell with 1 for 25, before medium-pacer Ian Bullock, having been replaced as wicket-keeper by George Godsall at the 25 over drinks break, came on for his first bowl for Bromyard 1sts. From just Bullock’s fifth ball Louis Spencer (2) popped up a simple catch to Harvey Ree at short leg, and two balls later Bullock had Bewdley talisman Simon Mauger lbw for a duck after offering no shot, as the home side slipped to 107-5 after 31 overs. Having reached a solid fifty Rob Combes became Bullock’s third victim, rather unluckily adjudged lbw for 52 off 77 balls with 4 fours, after appearing to have got an inside edge.
That left Bewdley 113-6 in the 33rd over and with their key batsman gone, and Greg Leighton returned to the attack to try and quickly finish things off. He soon had Australian Josh Freestone easily caught at silly mid-on by Rob Willis for 3, from another ball that seemed to stop in the pitch, and then bowled Martyn Carr for 15 to make it 129-8 after 38 overs. Grant Morris was the next to go, bowled for a duck after having a big swish at a full Leighton delivery, and Leighton finished the innings soon afterwards by having Matt Woodcock caught behind by George Godsall for 5, leaving last man Martin Brewer 4 not out and Bewdley all out for 140 in 41.5 overs, Greg Leighton taking 5 for 29 from 9.5 overs, his 10th five wicket haul for Bromyard 1sts. Ian Bullock meanwhile offered excellent support with 3 for 21 from 6 overs on his bowling debut for the 1st XI.
After the now standard ‘Bring your own’ tea, Bromyard set about their run chase, but suffered an early setback when Nick Leighton was hastily adjudged lbw to Martyn Carr’s away-swing for a duck, becoming possibly the second batsman of the day to be given out lbw after getting a nick on the ball. That made it 7-1 in the 3rd over, but Ian Bullock was looking in good form at the other end, with some well-hit cover drives and pull shots. The score had moved on to 20 in the 7th over when the returning Edd Oliver became the second Bromyard batsman to suffer the swift, fickle finger of fate, and was also sent on his way lbw to Martyn Carr without scoring. Sensing an opening Bewdley’s fielders had by now perked up and they enjoyed further success as Rob Willis was caught off Martin Brewer’s bowling for 2, and George Godsall (2) got a leading edge off Martyn Carr’s bowling and was caught in the covers, leaving Bromyard 33-4 in the 11th over.
When Bromyard’s key man Ian Bullock (26) was caught in the covers off veteran medium-pacer Martin Brewer, followed by Ed Smith being trapped lbw by the next delivery from Brewer, Bromyard were 36-6 in the 14th over and already in a big hole. That hole got deeper as George Leighton was bowled by a Brewer inswinger, becoming Bromyard’s fourth duck, and making the score 36-7 in the 16th over. The skipper Greg Leighton dug in and briefly stemmed the flow of wickets, as Martyn Carr (3-15 from 10 overs) and Martin Brewer (4-22 from 10 overs) finished their excellent spells, before he was caught behind off Matt Woodcock’s medium pace for 5, leaving Bromyard 48-8 in the 23rd over. Left-hander Harvey Ree (1) became the fourth Bromyard batsman to be dismissed lbw, when he fell victim to Josh Freestone in the following over to make it 55-9, and after John Parker and last man Dave Taylor showed what was possible by adding 23 for the last wicket in 8 overs, Parker (14) holed out to mid-off from the bowling of off-spinner Grant Morris, leaving Taylor 8 not out and Bromyard 78 all out in 32.2 overs, going down to a 62 run defeat and giving Bewdley their first win of the season. At the halfway mark of the season the 1st XI remain in 4th place in the WCL Premier Division, and will look to bounce back on Saturday at home to 10th-placed Old Hill, as the second round of league fixtures begins.
The 2nd XI meanwhile won by 42 runs at home to Belbroughton 2nd XI. Having lost the toss Bromyard were asked to bat first, but posted a competitive 220-8 from their 45 overs, with Martin Reece-Pitt returning to form with 46, Mike Reece making 36, Zac Bernard-Pullen 28 in his first 2nd XI appearance of the season, Will Bolton 23 and Max Rowley 17. For the visitors four bowlers took 2 wickets each, Todd Stevens (2-16 from 5.5 overs) perhaps being the pick of them. In reply Dean Corbett and Mike Reece took an early wicket each to reduce Belbroughton to 23-2, and the North Worcestershire visitors were never really in the hunt, Richard Dunn top-scoring with 31 off 79 balls, Ross Parker making a quickfire 26 off 19 balls, Jonathan Glover making 25 not out and Ryan Cook 20, as Belbroughton batted out their 45 overs to finish on 180-8. All seven of Bromyard’s bowlers took a wicket each, despite several catches being put down, the most economical being the skipper Max Rowley, with 1 for 24 from 9 overs, and 18-year-old medium pacer James Godsall, with 1 for 19 from 7 overs. With Barnt Green 3rd XI losing for just the second time this season, Bromyard 2nds have leapfrogged them into 1st place in WCL Division 6, 12 points ahead of Barnt Green 3rd XI and 13 points ahead of third-placed Stourbridge 3rd XI, ahead of their trip on Saturday to Hagley Hall to take on 4th-placed Hagley 2nds, who themselves are just 14 points behind Bromyard.
The 3rd XI had their match conceded to them by Barnards Green 4th XI, who were unable to raise a side. The maximum 20 points leaves the 3rds 18 points ahead of 2nd-placed Eastnor 2nds with four league games remaining, and 18 points and a game in hand ahead of 3rd-placed Worcester Nomads 3rds, who they will visit at the historic Cinderella Ground in Worcester on Saturday.
The Sunday XI’s home fixture against Ludlow this weekend is off, as Ludlow cannot raise a side.
Finally the Evening League XI will play their final league fixture of the season on Tuesday night, away at Malvern CC vs Malvern Artefacts.