Hamilton Crescent made the 3 hour round trip to face Kingholm (St Michael's) in their penultimate fixture of 2019, and were jubilant to come away with a very hard fought win. The cricket was attritional and demanded patience especially when batting, with the wicket being especially slow and an outfield which made free flowing scoring difficult.
Kingholm won the toss and elected to bat, with the outfield still damp and expected to dry quickly in the baking sun. Will Hunt made the breakthrough with his first ball in the 2nd over, but HC were frustrated by Kingholm, who started to build momentum with their attacking middle-order batsman. Ben “B-Rob” Robinson proved very effective in bowling a consistent stump-to-stump line, and ended with exceptional figures of 2-16 off 8. He brought control during the middle overs, and along with Cox and Howgate, the valiant West men managed to turn the screw.
The danger men thankfully departed after a few lusty blows, and Kingholm were now struggling at 115-5 off 30. Spin continued to play at part in the final 10 with Ross McCallum spinning a web from the top end, with the batsman struggling to lay bat on ball. Will Hunt also ended up with extremely impressive figures (1-9 off 6) and West were happy to be chasing 160 after restricting Kingholm to only 1s and 2s in the final overs.
And so the chase began uncharacteristically smoothly for a West side. The top 3 of Hooper, McCallum and Cox all batted watchfully against a couple of good opening bowlers. Hooper played a couple of nice pulls shots for 4 and had reached 21 before being adjudged leg before.
Cox was playing very nicely, possessing an impeccable technique for this pitch. West reached the halfway mark at 65-1, needing a further 95 to secure victory. A couple of quick wickets were lost, but junior Chris Collins provided the much needed impetus to make winning seem a realistic possibility: His 26 was comprised of hard pull shots through midwicket and was the perfect innings at this stage of the game. He was joined by Howgate who played a characteristically stoic innings with plenty of dot balls along with putting the bad ball away.
The skipper proved a good foil for Collins and with 5 overs left the game wasn’t easy to call. Howgate was dismissed and Bratt played a couple of nice shots over the top to ease the pressure before departing along with Collins (both run out).
Jain and Hunt were the last two batsman with the tension being felt by all. The equation was now 14 off 3 and then 12 off 2. With drawing the game being a possibility, it was not easy to decide what to do. Thankfully, Will Hunt put this to bed by smashing the penultimate delivery for 4 and securing a vital victory for the team.
Next week is the small matter of taking down Clydesdale's Bees in the final fixture at New Williamfield to guarantee promotion.