Syed Naqvi and Ben Nightingale to open the bowling against Byfield's Newby and Adkins. Byfield raced to 32-0 from the first five overs before progress slowed as Ben and Syed bowled six overs for just five runs, with the latter claiming Castlethorpe's first wicket. Full credit has to go to the Castlethorpe fieldsmen as well as the bowlers, with an excellent show of commitment and backing up, all of which persisted throughout the innings.
In the fourteenth over, Adesh Pal replace Ben and struck immediately with Adkins caught behind by keeper Matt Lewis for 20 to make the score 47 for two. At the other end, Atif Mushtaq replaced Syed and took the next wicket in the nineteenth over, bowling Driscoll for eleven. Adesh and Atif kept at their task of bowling accurately and, with continued tight fielding, made sure the score did not race away. Unfortunately each was denied a wicket by the umpire's call of "no-ball," but this should not in any way reflect on their bowling efforts. Atif bowled Cooper in the 27th over for a slow four, making the score 92 for four. The excellent fielding continued to have a big impact as Atif threw down the stumps to claim the fifth Byfield wicket with eight overs to go. Next over, bowler and fielder were reversed as Adesh claimed a run-out of his own. Byfield were down to 125 for six, but their number three, Cook, was still at the crease on 40. Russell made a double change in the bowling, bringing Syed and Ben back into the attack: Adesh had completed his ten overs, Atif had one over remaining. First of the two to strike was Ben, having Emery given out LBW - the only successful appeal of the day for our bowlers. In the next over, Syed first took the wicket of Cook, bowling him for 42 and with the next ball bowled the new batsman Pratley. It was not his day for a hat-trick though as batsman McIlroy fended away the hat-trick ball. Ben claimed the final wicket, leaving Smith the not out batsman on five with Byfield having reached a total of 143 all out.
After tea at the pub, Castlethorpe set about their run-chase. Two Joneses opened the batting: Russell and Alun Jones in his first league match for us. Alun's role was to anchor the innings whilst Russell took on the role of aggressor. The score ticked on steadily with a mix of cracking shots and stalwart defence. They had targeted seeing off the first ten overs and that is when the first wicket fell with Newby catching Russell off the bowling of Cooper for 29 runs with the score on 41. This saw Syed make his way to the crease in a new role at number three, focusing on the target of four an over and keeping the ball on the ground. Unfortunately his partnership with Alun was short-lived when Byfield successfully appealed for Alun to be out LBW in the fourteenth over. Atif joined Syed for just one ball as he was bowled by the first delivery faced for a duck. That brought Ben to the crease. Ben and Syed put on a partnership of 49 runs in twelve overs before Syed was adjudged lbw for 26 with the score on 97. Adesh could only watch from the non-striker's end as in the next over Ben was also given out LBW for 21. Matt joined Adesh but again the partnership was broken next over, this time with Adesh caught out for one. The score was 103, meaning that 41 more runs were needed from the remaining twelve overs. Debutant Aaron Day made his way to the middle to join Matt facing just four balls in their two over partnership before he too was given out LBW. 113 for seven. Ian Easton strode to the middle and hit a couple of lusty blows without scoring before being caught out in the 31st over. Our third debutant, and last man, Luke Jeffery-Hammond, made his way to the non-striker's end as Ian and Matt had crossed whilst the catch was taken. He was left not out on nought off no balls as Matt was clean bowled next delivery, bringing the Castlethorpe innings to a close on 114. Byfield won by 29 runs.
It was disappointing to get so close to what would have been a stunning victory for our ten men, but the performance of the team was outstanding, with every man playing an important part in a well contested match. Getting to within 30 of the target was impressive. By taking the ten Byfield wickets and scoring over 100, we secured six points, bringing our league tally to 26. Thanks for a great match and keep up the good work!
Match report by Sharron Jones