Bramhall 1st XI at Neston 12.05.18
Bramhall’s 1st XI headed over to the Wirral on Saturday, where Neston awaited at a bright and dry Parkgate ground. Beavers skipper Nick Cantello called correctly at the toss again, and this time chose to make first use of a good looking batting surface.
Despite losing their first wicket on 17, Bramhall’s Adam Wilde and number three Liam Banthorpe made very steady progress, looking comfortable in putting on a 50 stand together. It was almost a surprise when Banthorpe nicked to slip for 33, with the score on 74, just as his innings was starting to kick on. Wilde, at the other end, looked pretty much immoveable, but it wasn’t until Iftikhar Naseer at number 6 came to the crease, at 96-4, that he found a reliable partner.
Ifti, as the style of his batting is always likely to do, kept the opposition interested throughout, but gradually found his range to start peppering the area beyond the boundary rope. The half century came up in less than 40 deliveries, and it was a disappointment to all but the home players when he holed out to deep cover. His 69 from 44 balls contained nine maximums.
At 189-5 with more than 10 overs remaining, and Wilde still at the crease having passed his own fifty, Bramhall were hoping to post a score north of 240. However, the late order was unable to deal with the Neston attack, and the visitors crumbled to 207 all out in 51 overs. Not only had Bramhall given their hosts an additional 4 overs to bat but they had also failed to even pick up maximum batting points, when a score above 220 had seemed almost inevitable just a few overs earlier. Wilde’s innings ended as he looked to manoeuvre the strike with the tail end, having made a valuable 59 from 131 balls.
Bramhall’s season to date has been one of frustration where player availability is concerned, and Saturday was a particularly worrisome day with regards to bowlers. With their key new ball bowlers still unavailable, and Simon Wilkinson’s reliable off-spin a late omission from the team sheet, the visitors were going to need to take all 10 wickets with a somewhat makeshift attack.
The uphill task quickly grew more difficult, as the home opening pair were on the offensive from the off. Will Evans, in particular, showed scant respect for the new ball as he both split and cleared the infield with alarming regularity. His fifty came up at quicker than a run-a-ball, and the Beavers looked subdued as the home side brought up a rapid century opening stand.
Skipper Cantello looked around for inspiration, and his gaze focused on veteran slow bowler Tom Drury, more recognisable as the regular 2nd XI skipper and a last minute addition to Saturday’s side. And the gamble was well founded, as Drury picked up 2 wickets in his opening over. First, he persuaded Evans to clip to mid-wicket for 65, before then beating the sweep of Smith to trap him LBW. At 107-2, Bramhall knew that Drury would need intense support from his colleagues in order to turn the tide, but it never came.
Neston opener David Hurst looked unflappable at the other end, playing some high quality shots whenever the visiting bowlers erred, and he found a steady partner in Stokes at number 4, who helped add 86 for the 3rd wicket. Drury was eventually rewarded for a tidy spell with a third wicket, but his 3-31 return was the only positive that the Beavers were able to take from a 7 wicket defeat in just 40 overs.