Bramhall’s 1st XI slipped to a second defeat on Saturday, away to reigning league champions Alderley Edge. Under leaden skies and with a chilly breeze, skipper Nick Cantello elected to field first on a green-tinged pitched and a quick outfield.
Alderley’s openers made a measured, if unspectacular, start against Bramhall’s new ball pairing of Matt Higginbottom and Simon Wilkinson. The score had reached 64 when Wilkinson struck to dismiss Day for 22. His very next delivery was again on the money, and number 3 Sawas could only edge to slip where Cantello took a trademark one hander diving to his right. Edge avoided the hat-trick and stabilised to reach 110-2 before Higginbottom struck. However, it was not as a bowler, but with a lighting quick direct hit from short cover to dismiss Rowe for 60 – who had been sent back by his non-striker.
It wasn’t until after the mid-innings break that Bramhall managed to pick up more frequent wickets, however. Higginbottom’s second spell proved a lot more penetrating, as the home batsmen attempted to up the run rate. He picked up four wickets as Bramhall restricted Alderley to 231-9 from their 55 overs, after being well placed at 183-4. Wilkinson finished with a measured 3-53 from his 17 overs.
Bramhall had another new-look top order after the tea break, not helped by injury and first class duties for some of their key batters. Unfortunately, it was a similar story of early wickets, as the score slipped to 0-2 and then 21-3 in the early overs. Glimpses of quality strokes were not enough, as too many batsmen lost their concentration to give the hosts a succession of catches behind the wicket. Only skipper Cantello stood firm for the Beavers, combining guts and application in facing 119 balls whilst his team mates fell around him.
It was a role reversal of Bramhall’s convincing winning draw at Alderley Edge in 2016, where the umpires ended the game early due to bad light with the Bramhall spinners bowling. Only this time around, the light started to fade as the Beavers’ tail was exposed to Alderley’s quick bowlers. After dishing out some short stuff, they were asked to pitch it up. With 9 overs to go, which surely would not have been completed in the conditions, the pitched up bowling paid dividends when Bramhall lost their last wicket on 155. The captain, batting at four, was left stranded on 49 not out after playing an exemplary innings.
Now is the time for Bramhall to nip this early season blip in the bud – particularly with the bat in hand. The Beaver’s task next Saturday is another tough one, as they host Chester Boughton Hall at Church Lane from 12.30pm