Bramhall’s 1st XI arrived at a drenched, table topping Oxton, hoping to continue the good form of the past few weeks and also to dodge the further rain that was forecast across the county for the afternoon.
Fortunately, the Wirral micro-climate meant that once play had started there were no weather interruptions, and a complete game was possible. The home captain invited Bramhall to have first use of the wet wicket and outfield, knowing that conditions would be tough for them to post a competitive score.
However, the new ball did not misbehave, and Adam Wilde and Ashley West were soon into their stride, sharing a 50 opening partnership in good time, before West was induced into a false shot on 28. From this point on, run scoring became more difficult for the Beavers, and although several batsmen were able to get starts, none of them were able to post anything substantial.
Wilde fell straight after drinks for 38 and skipper Nick Cantello got a battling 23, but generally, with some tight bowling and a difficult wicket, it was tough to get the ball away. Chris Sanders opened his shoulders, hitting a big six down the ground before being farcically run out for 24, and it was then left to Simon Wilkinson and Luke Littlewood to bat out the last 6 overs to ensure Bramhall used their full allotment. They put on 22 for the last wicket, with Wilkinson joining the six hitting league before holing out trying to repeat the trick next ball, to edge their side up to a competitive 170 all out at tea.
Oxton came out determined to chase down the Bramhall score and stretch their lead at the top of Division One, however they found run scoring really tough straight from the off. Matt Higginbottom struck in his first over, bringing Aussie guns Jack Smith and Glen Batticciotto together. They batted watchfully, but the slow wicket was in stark contrast to the ones they would be used to in their homeland, and both struggled to get away in the face of accurate and disciplined bowling from Sanders and Higginbottom.
When Wilkinson was introduced to the attack at 41 for 1, the game turned on its head. He induced a nick from the dangerous Batticciotto with his first ball, and then struck again two balls later with Filer edging to Cantello at slip. When Higginbottom was rewarded for his persistence in his next over, trapping Smith leg before, the Beavers started to smell blood. In the next ten overs the innings was completely destroyed by Higginbottom and Wilkinson, with the incoming batsmen all at sea against the swinging, seaming and spinning ball.
Higginbottom sealed the win as he celebrated the fantastic figures of 6 for 21 off 13.1 overs, complemented by Wilkinson’s 4 for 6 from 6 at the other end. Oxton were bowled out for just 54, and the margin of victory, as well as other games being affected by the bad weather, meant that Bramhall replace their hosts at the top of the table as we head towards the midway stage of the season.
Next week sees Romiley visit Church Lane as the Beavers hope to continue their fine form and consolidate their position at the top of the division. All support is very welcome for the 1pm start.