After last week’s key victory at home to Didsbury, Bramhall’s 1st XI were keen to take positives from that game to Oulton Park on Saturday. The Beavers lost the toss and were asked to bat on a surface that offered some encouragement to the bowlers, whilst the bare, brown outfield and short boundaries offered a comparable promise of riches to the batters.
Opener Ashley West again looked in good touch, as he capitalised on any semblance of width to find the boundary. However, width was to be his undoing with the score on 35 as he sliced a drive to backwards point for 29 from 20 balls. Aussie Liam Banthorpe came to the middle, and quickly looked in good touch as he mixed solid defence with classical aggression and some sharp running. Despite losing his partner with the score on 56, Banthorpe was able to maintain momentum and added 64 for the 3rd wicket with Adam Wilde (23). When Wilde was bowled by the wily Hyslop, a sedate Iftikhar Naseer (28) strode out and again added another good stand of 67, during which time Banthorpe had comfortably reached a half century.
With fewer than 15 overs to go, Naseer’s dismissal to the part-time bowling of Danny Leech was a blow to the Beavers, who felt that a score of around 280 was par from 55 overs. Despite Banthorpe remaining steadfastly at the crease, he was unable to get any real support from the Bramhall middle over, as 187-4 soon became 210-6 when Chris Sanders was run out after a mix-up. The popular Banthorpe, though, was able to reach his first century for Bramhall – after getting to within 2 runs earlier in the season. And just when he looked to really accelerate, his mistimed sweep was then on the midwicket boundary to bring his high quality knock of 113 to an end. He’d ensured that his side had attained maximum batting points, but at 222-7, the visitors felt a little short of runs. The last few overs picked up 35 more, and Bramhall closed on 257-9 from their 55 overs.
After the interval, Sanders came out to bowl with encouraging pace and rhythm, and was well supported at the other end by some controlled swing bowling from Ollie Latter. And it was the Latter who struck first, with Martin East well caught by Sam Johnson up to the stumps. At 7-1, Bramhall sensed blood, but in Leech Oulton Park have an experienced opener who is perfectly capable of blunting most bowling attacks. His patience took the sting out of the situation, whilst his batting partner Bashir was a little less subtle with some of his strokeplay. He was lucky to survive a chance to gully off Latter early on, but looked ever more comfortable at the crease.
The pair had added 84 before Leech uncharacteristically reverse swept to Ashley West at gully off the bowling of Ryan Macciocchi, who bowled a really tidy spell of left arm spin that kept the home batsmen under pressure – when some of his fellow bowlers seemed less capable of doing the same. Too many loose deliveries, allied with some lackadaisical fielding, saw the hosts stay up with the required rate and they looked in pole position at 179-2 with 15 overs remaining – particularly as Bramhall had lost Naseer to a hand injury after a spilt chance in the gully off Bashir.
But, in the summer of all summers, Mother Nature decided that she’d seen enough and sufficient rain began to fall that the umpires called a halt. Half an hour later, with rain still falling and gloom gathering, the game was abandoned with Bashir unbeaten on 95.
Bramhall were possibly the happier of the two sides at the result, given the strong position that Oulton Park had put themselves in, despite Macciocchi’s canny 1-16 from 9 overs. 10 rain affected draw points saw the Beavers improve their relative league position, despite all other matches in the division played to a finish.