16th Dec, 2019

Avoncroft skipper Whitehead hopes to build on victory over Astwood Bank Thirds

SKIPPER Mark Whitehead believes Avoncroft can take some confidence from their first win of the Worcestershire County League Division Three season at Astwood Bank Thirds into this weekend’s clash against Himley.

Bank were put into bat after losing the toss but lost their opener Andy Clayton (9) early on thanks to a smart piece of fielding from Jonty Heslop who directly hit the stumps to claim a run-out.

Jonathan Hunter then had the Bank top and middle order in trouble, removing three of them in his first spell with a fine display of swing bowling.

At the other end Paul Athey was finding some unevenness in the bounce which helped to frustrate the hosts’ batsmen.

However, a strong 59 from Bank’s number four provided some solidity but the introduction of the pace of Dan Elliot proved to be his undoing when he removed the off-stump.

The bowling change, along with the introduction of Mark Wood (2-16) from the other end, helped turn the game decisively in the favour of Croft.

Hunter returned to claim a fourth wicket, claiming figures of 11-0-39-4 while Craig Hughes mopped up the last wicket with the second ball of his only over as Bank were skittled out for 120 after 32.2 overs.

In response Croft’s opening batsmen Sam Hughes and Matt Hare started brightly, with both finding some fluency on the front foot to drive hard.

The change of bowling from Bank, though, brought this to an end with Hare being removed for a hard worked 13.

Dave Anson then crashed a quick 20 before a fine catch at gully removed him.

But Hughes continued to accumulate runs and his unbeaten 44 along with the unbeaten 32 from brother Craig pushed the visitors over the line to claim a well-deserved victory.

Croft finished their innings on 121-2 in the 23rd over.

Whitehead said: “It was pleasing to get the first win under the belt and it was a win that the whole team worked hard at with the bat and ball.

“We bowled well and hit the right areas on the pitch but more encouragingly though was the performance with the bat where our shot selection was much better.”

Croft entertain Himley on Saturday with the only change seeing opening batsman Hare being replaced by Tom Murray.

“The win on Saturday should help us walk into Saturday’s encounter with confidence that I hope we can build upon to grab maximum points,” Whitehead added.

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