Experienced heads steered Ways home to a victory that ended up less comfortable than it should have been. At one stage, it looked like an overwhelming win but a middle order collapse made getting the last few runs a more nervous task than was necessary. Nevertheless, this was a good all round performance, canny bowling well supported in the field dismissing Avoncroft for an under par total, and a good start followed by the pyrotechnics of Abid Ali doing enough to ensure victory.
On a good pitch in pleasantly warm conditions, Avoncroft’s top five all got in but could not go on. Samir Ahamedzah hitting the stumps twice in an excellent opening spell. Avoncroft captain Josh Cound then played aggressively and well, supported by Max Jukes, and at 83-2 and the run rate at over four an over, Avoncroft looked welled placed. From the moment veteran skipper Alan Dabbs struck Jukes’ stumps with an off cutter however, the innings went into free fall. Mo Bhanji took the key wicket of Pounds, deceived through the air and off the pitch by a sharply spinning leg break, and the rest crumbled to Dabbs and Bhanji. Unable to keep the score ticking over or rotate the strike, the Avoncroft batters mixed defence with unsuccessful slogs, Dabbs supported by three sharp catches at midwicket, one by Abid Ali and two by Dennis Williams on his way to figures of 5-32, and Mo Bhanji taking the remaining two wickets in one over to finish with 3-16, and in the end, Avoncroft had lost eight wickets for 50, and fallen well short of a par score on this pitch.
After an excellent tea, openers Ian Garrett and Dennis Williams picked up where they left off in the 3rds last week, Ian cutting and driving boundaries in the first over. Ian continued to cover drive pleasantly, and Dennis cut and pulled sweetly on their way to a 50 partnership at over four an over, Ian scoring his 1000th run for the club in the process before nicking behind fro 26 with the score 51. This brought Abid Ali to the crease, looking to up the tempo immediately. He benefited from Avoncroft’s habit of giving bowlers brief spells, and took full advantage of an over of long hops from Pittam and the short leg side boundary, smashing three sixes into the trees. Abid also went down the wicket to the seamers, looking to reach the ball on the full and then smacking it straight or over midwicket to the boundary. He had reached 61, with eight fours and four sixes, when with only twelve needed he advanced once too often and was smartly stumped by Huxley from the bowling of youngster Kehoe.
From this point, collective madness seemed to overtake the Ways middle order and four more wickets fell for another six runs, Dennis chipping to midwicket followed by Chris Jones and Stephen Moore out trying to end it in one big shot, and a bizarre run out ended Mo Bhanji’s brief innings when he proved slower than Avoncroft’s 70 year old. It was left to Chris Webber to finish things, hitting captain Cound, who had dismissed Williams and Moore, back over his head to the boundary, and then in the next over with scores level, sent another towering pull shot into the trees to end the game. A suitably emphatic finale to give Ways a 24 point victory.