22nd Jan, 2020

Winning start for Avoncroft

Craig Gibbons 25th Apr, 2018

AVONCROFT got their Worcestershire County League Division Three campaign off to a flying start with a four-wicket victory at newly-promoted Hanley Castle & Upton.

Croft skipper Jonathan Hunter won the toss and opted to bowl on a damp track following the recent rainfalls.

And it was Hunter who made the early breakthrough, trapping Nick Bailey for LBW with just the fourth ball of the new season.

He then bagged the second not long after, bowling out Grant Mathews (2).

Spinner Craig Hughes was brought into the attack and a fine catch by Tom Murray dismissed Rory Mathews (11).

Shortly after a rain delay the teams returned and Hunter grabbed his third wicket of the day, bowling out Mathew Pratley (2).

It was then the turn of Dan Elliott to open his wicket account having Olly Lewis (19) caught on the leg side.

James Downing came into the attack and struck with his third ball to dismiss Hanley skipper Will St Leger-Chamber (26).

Downing then took the scalp of Rhys Hooper before Hunter sent George Barrell for an early shower.

The impressive Josh Benson-Smith (27 not out) was well supported by a couple of lusty blows by Tony Hutchins (17) before the returning Paul Athey picked up his first wicket of the season.

Hanley were eventually bowled out for 147 in the 48th over with wicket-keeper Murray stumping Jack Smith off the bowling of Hughes.

Avoncroft had just 43 overs to reach their winning target of 148 due to the earlier rain delays.

Opener Will Sach (2) was removed in the first over by Barrell (4-44) and it started a quick collapse with Croft falling to 56-5 after the departures of Elliott (16), Hughes (4), Josh Cound (2) and David Anson (0).

However, the 53-run partnership between Murray and Jonty Heslop (19) got Avoncroft back into the game before the latter was dismissed by Barrell.

Vice-captain Athey (16 not out) came to the crease and formed an unbeaten 41-run partnership with Murray (55 no) to fire the visitors to victory.

Avoncroft entertain Alvechurch & Hopwood on Saturday.

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