A much improved performance at 2nd place Bowdon saw Bramhall 1st XI leapfrog their hosts in the table, despite not being able to force a victory on Saturday and having to settle for a winning draw and 13 points.
The Beavers again opted to bat first, and a solid start put any early nerves to bed and showed that a repeat of last week’s collapse was not on the cards. Ashley West fell for only 14, but Adam Wilde and Jevon Kett were soon into their stride, punishing anything loose and battling hard against a good opening attack.
When Wilde eventually fell for a well-made 58, Jack Clark (with no ‘e’) was sent in ahead of his skipper to up the ante. This he did to great effect, smashing 34 from just 22 balls, and running brilliantly between the wickets with Kett to really put the pressure on to the home side.
Nick Cantello then produced some fine hitting of his own, with 27 from 17 balls including a 6 into the hospitality tent, before Kett and he were dismissed chasing quick runs at the end of the innings. Jevon’s fine innings of 76 was the cornerstone of the total, and then the icing on the cake was provided by youngster Ollie Latter, who smited 17 not out off 8 balls to see his side to a very competitive 244 from 50 overs.
Bowdon’s reply started positively, with anything loose being punished by both openers, before Matt Higginbottom’s nagging and testing spell was rewarded with the wicket of ex-Bramhall player Jack Tipton.
The Bowdon top order continued to chip away at their target, but the brakes were put on the innings by the introduction of spinners Simon Wilkinson and Ryan Macciocchi. First, Wilkinson enticed Ashling down the wicket and had him well stumped by Alex Hunt, before Macciocchi struck twice with catches in front of the wicket. Wilkinson then trapped the dangerous Olivier lbw, and Bowdon were suddenly 116-5 after having been 84-1.
With the home side needing 6 an over to win, and with plenty of time to establish a foothold in the game, Bramhall would have been wary of taking anything for granted, as they had lost from an identical position to Macclesfield earlier in the season.
However, the home side inexplicably called off the run chase immediately. Number 6 and 7 were able to block comfortably on a benign surface, which must have left them wondering if they could have shown more ambition and tried to win the game with so many wickets in hand, and a wicket that was looking very easy to survive on.
Cantello tried all his bowlers, with Wilkinson turning the clock back 20 years with some leg spinners, and the skipper even bowling a 4 over spell himself, but the batsmen could unfortunately not be tempted into trying to entertain the large crowd that had turned up for the Bowdon Summer Ball, and instead settled for blocking out for a dull draw.
Bramhall will be happy with a return to form and some very good individual performances, but it was obviously disappointing not to be able to force a victory. It is games like this which will inevitably raise the question of whether the draw should be removed from league cricket, as the end result was far from satisfactory for anyone involved.