ALCESTER & Ragley secured a thrilling one-wicket Cotswold Hills League Premier Division victory in a low-scoring encounter against visitors Leamington 3rds.
In a match reduced to 40 overs per side due to rain, the visitors could only muster 83-8, but Ragley struggled just as much on a damp wicket and scraped their way to 84-9.
After winning the toss Ragley decided to field and Leamington openers Gill and Bennett reached 21 with Gill hitting four boundaries with little alarm, until a mix-up between the two resulted in Gill being run out at the non-striker’s end for 18.
At this stage runs dried up as only 10 were scored from the next 11 overs. With the score on 31, Tim Jackson struck with the last ball of his spell to remove number 3 Bate for 8 and make it 31-2 from 18 overs.
Another period of consolidation from the Leamington batsmen against some tight bowling on a tricky pitch and some excellent fielding resulted in a partnership of 21 from the next 11 overs before Mackrill was stumped by Paul Dipple off the bowling of Max Biltcliffe for 11 (52-3 from 29 overs).
David Lord was the next batsman and looked to increase the tempo which he did as he got to 12 in good time before being stumped, this time off the bowling of Warbrick (70-4 from 33 overs).
Three further wickets then fell on this score – two to run outs by Steve Capron and one to the bowling of Darren Turner – to leave it 70-7 from 35 overs.
Opener Bate was still in having seen seven partners come and go. Ragley took one further wicket as McCarthy was caught on the long-on boundary by Tom Wright for 2, Warbrick the bowler again.
Leamington had limped along to 83-8 at the end of their innings, with Bate having carried his bat for 22. The bowling figures all looked impressive – Warbrick 2-12, Turner 1-11, Jackson 1-17, Biltcliffe 1-15 and Capron 0-15 from 9 overs.
Perhaps over-confidence at only chasing 84 to win was part of the reason Ragley struggled in reply, but they also underestimated how tricky the pitch was to bat on.
They had reached 18 with a few alarms along the way when Turner edged one behind off the bowling of McCarthy. Ben Lee followed next over, bowled by Credington and then Warbrick holed out to mid-off to leave it 21-3 from 7 overs.
The previous week’s batting star Ben Shuttleworth came in and was joined by Dave Pilkington. These two steadied the ship a little, with the highlight a wonderful six from Pilkington over square leg.
The partnership was ended in bizarre fashion as Pilkington was caught and bowled by Awais after top-edging the ball into his helmet (44-4).
Captain for the day Biltcliffe and Shuttleworth then played very cautiously for the next seven overs before Biltcliffe was bowled for 1. Dipple followed next ball and the innings was in disarray at 49-6 with 35 needed for victory in 22 overs.
Tim Jackson played sensibly alongside Shuttleworth and they had inched the score up to 72-6 when Jackson was caught at cover off Credington before Wright and Powell followed in the next three overs for 0 and the score was 77-9.
Last man Capron was in with Shuttleworth, not out on 38. The 27th over produced two wides and a single to Shuttleworth to take the score to 80-9.
With the tension palpable, Shuttleworth took strike for the first ball of the 28th over – a short delivery which he helped down to the fine leg boundary to win the game for Ragley.
Shuttleworth, with his second match-winning innings in as many weekends, ended 43 not out.
Fifth placed Ragley visit Norton Lindsey on Saturday.