Bramhall 1st XI’s poor run of form continued into their away fixture at Chester Boughton Hall on Saturday, in the last league game of the first half of the 2018 season.
Chester asked the Beavers to bat first on an unsurprisingly bone dry pitch, surrounded by the swiftest of outfields. A steady opening stand began to develop between Ashley West and youngster Alex Hunt, aided by a hint of luck, and the pair had put on 57 when West pulled straight to midwicket for 27. Adam Wilde joined Hunt at the crease and the pair played solidly to provide a base for the innings. Hunt reached his debut fifty for the 1st XI, his application a promising sign so early in his career, before he was LBW for 55 with 84 having been added for the 2nd wicket.
In such batting friendly conditions, 141-2 was a little short of where Bramhall would ideally have wanted to be with around 15 overs left in the innings, and so the onus was on the middle order to increase the run rate for a total north of 250. Unfortunately, this proved to be task too tricky against a spin-heavy Chester bowling attack. Wilde’s dismissal for a good 56 took the Beavers to 157-4, and then came a stuttering few overs before captain Nick Cantello and Sam Johnson came together to eek out sufficient runs to claim 6 batting points for reaching 190 in the final over. Bramhall closed on 192-7 from their 55 overs, and truth be told it was a total some 100 runs short of where they hoped they might be after 25 overs of the innings. The Beavers would need to summon all their skill with the ball to get anything from the game.
After the break, Chester’s established opening partnership of Moore & Goodwin provided their customary positive intent against Bramhall’s attack. Whilst the Beavers created chances, the problem was that these did not result in any success. Several chances in the field were missed, and a couple of close LBW decisions turned down and it was with some relief when Simon Wilkinson finally trapped Goodwin in front for 45 when he was looking dangerous. At 68-1, Bramhall knew that it was pretty much now or never… unfortunately, now never came. Whilst the bowling was generally tight, the Beavers, the fielding was below standard and any pressure created to that point began to ebb away. Opener Moore (96*) and number three Money (51*) added a solid 130 run second wicket stand to see the hosts home by 9 wickets with a healthy 15 overs to spare.
Bramhall’s 6 point return sees them firmly in the danger zone in the Cheshire County League Premier Division, but they can at least be comforted that they have half a season to put things right – not least hoping that absent key players can get back soon, and into form.
Next Saturday’s fixture at Grappenhall is a huge one, before the Beavers host New Brighton in the Cheshire Cup Quarter Final on Sunday.