Match report from Ian Garrett
Facing a significantly different A&H side this week, Ways cruised to victory with an excellent all round performance, with the stand out individual roles going to Anthony Jones with the first four wickets in the A&H innings, and a pyrotechnic fifty from Khizar Khan.
Ways’ excellent performance in the field kept the Alvechurch innings under control throughout, and the back of the small target was broken in just a few overs by Khizar’s assault, and Ways cruised to victory in just 18 overs.
Firstly, a resume of last week. Ways again shown in the field, with Anthony Jones and Sabir keeping things under control in bowling through their 9 over spells, and Hamza Sarwar both bowling with pace and movement to take three wickets and removing the obdurate opener Jones with a direct hit run out. For much of the innings, it looked like Ways could be chasing little over 150, but a late partnership between Ball and Sata saw the final Alvechurch score reaching 178. In the early stages of Ways innings, it looked like this was comfortably within range. Despite the early loss of Craig Heath, Ways reached 50-1 with Ian Garrett fluent off his legs and Hamza powerful through the off side. Ian then became the first victim of Rob Ball, but as Khizar entered and struck two boundaries over the leg side in opening bowler Spencer’s last over, at 73-2, Ways were in charge. The partnership of spinners Ball and Sata changed all that. They finished with combined figures of 6-41 from 18 overs, Sata twice striking with classic off-spinner’s wickets, inviting the drive to the ball outside off, and spinning it through the gate to hit middle and off. Once the spinners were off, the tail fought hard, but by then the damage was done, and the final margin of 42 runs did not flatter Alvechurch.
So it was a relief to pitch up in Alvechurch yesterday and see neither spinner. Indeed, only four of the previous week’s victors were playing again, and this time, the early grip exerted by Ways’ bowlers was not extinguished. Anthony Jones bowled superbly to finish with 4-35, the highlight being a well disguised slower ball that utterly confounded Mulvihill. The main resistance came from Gilmour, who struck anything overpitched powerfully over the offside, but when he fell, adroitly caught low in the gully by Sabir from the bowling of Iain Wingfield, A&H had slipped to 75-5, and could not recover. Craig Heath took another neat low catch to give Hamza a deserved wicket and dismiss Lavender, and after some resistance orchestrated by A&H captain Reck-Smith, who struck at least one member of the away team by his resemblance to the Renaissance Duke of Urbino, Hannah Murray’s booking inswingers struck the stumps three times in the space of two overs. Number 11 Grahame Jenkins struck three boundaries in Hannah’s next over to give the Alvechurch score a bit of a boost, before the returning Hamza trimmed his bails to gain a deserved second wicket and end the innings on 128.
Not a demanding target, and realistically, the game was over in the first four overs. Ian Garrett began things with an exquisite cover driven four to get the innings under way second ball, then settled into a supporting role as after an over’s reconnaissance, Khizar launched an all out assault on the bowling. The first ball of the third over disappeared straight over the trees and into the field beyond, and another delivery flew past square leg for four. The young opener at the other end was then struck straight when he pitched up and through the leg side when he dropped short for three boundaries in the next over, and after four overs, the score was already into the thirties and the back of target broken. Jenkins replacing Spencer at the far end gave a measure of control before retiring from the bowling crease with a stiff knee after five overs, but the runs continued to flow, Khizar launching another huge six and slamming boundaries off the back foot through extra cover. The slow pace of Woollatt caused more problems – Khizar went to his fifty when toe-ending Woollatt high to extra cover, who put it down, allowing Khizar the single required to reach his milestone, and in Woollatt’s next over, the scene was replayed, only for the fielder to this time cling on to a rather more difficult catch. Khizar gone for 55 in the ninth over, with the score 75-1 and Ian on 13. Jim Braddock came to the crease and continued the aggression, driving powerfully at Woollatt and Jenkins when they pitched up. The young bowler who replaced Jenkins bowled promisingly on his second team debut, but dropped enough short to enable Ian Garrett to cash in with three leg side fours in two overs, the last of which raised the fifty partnership between Ian and Jim. A leg glanced single brought Ways to within one of the A&H score, and with the young bowler not adjusting his line for the right hander, the next delivery was fired down the leg side for four wides to bring Ways victory by nine wickets with no fewer than 27 overs to spare.
A tremendous performance and revenge for last week, and puts Ways back into second in the table, with some crucial games to come over the net few weeks.