CAPTAIN Russell Southwick and his Redditch Entaco troops are sitting pretty at the top of the Worcestershire League Premier Division with five wins from six matches after a convincing 80-run victory over local rivals Feckenham at Mill Lane.
The Kingfishers have a 16-point advantage over early leaders Chaddesley Corbett who are now second, but the Millers remain anchored to the foot of the table with 12 points ahead of Saturday’s visit to Evesham.
Redditch, however, prepare to host Worcester outfit Old Elizabethans this weekend – when the league switches to the win/lose format – with no such concerns after an ultimately comfortable victory, albeit not without its difficulties along the way.
Having been put into bat, Redditch opened with the in-form Olly Mason and keeper Chris Brown and both started in positive fashion as they made 40 for the first wicket.
Brown was first to go caught by Yasir Mehmood off the bowling of Tom Coulson for 12 before wickets started to tumble as Coulson took control.
Mason was run out for 30 and Rizwan Mohammed, Ghulam Moyhuddin, Haris Ali and James Bevan all departed swiftly to leave the Kingfishers in trouble on 84-6.
However, skipper Southwick stood firm and a vital 48 runs were added with the experienced Tom Phelan (22).
Coulson and Matt Henning continued to dominate and, once Southwick was dismissed for an excellent 42, Redditch were dismissed for just 151 in the 40th over with Coulson taking 5-34 and Henning 2-38.
Redditch needed early wickets and their opening pace attack duly obliged as Waqas Ali continued his excellent form with the ball by taking 6-35 and fellow strike bowler Moyhuddin did the rest of the damage with 4-35 as Feckenham were dismissed for just 71 in 24.1 overs.
Redditch 2nds suffered a five-wicket defeat at home to Martley 1sts in a very highly entertaining Division Three game at Bromsgrove Road.
Redditch scored an impressive 276-6 off their 50 overs with teenager Anis Suleman leading the way with 65 and Marlon Lokenath chipping in with 41, skipper Liam Phelan 34 not out and Nick Fowkes 31.
In reply Redditch struck early through Mo Zahid who had James Basford caught behind for 11 but then followed what proved to be a match-winning partnership of 142 for the second wicket between James Ganderton and Alex Basford (75).
The visitors’ confidence grew as Ganderton and wicketkeeper Daniel Mayfield (50) added 99 runs in quick succession before Redditch bounced back with a couple of quick wickets.
However, Ganderton stood firm to make a fine 109 off just 133 balls to steer Martley home in the 48th over.
Redditch 2nds visit Old Elizabethans on Saturday.
The 3rds continued their good start to the Division Ten season with a 36-run victory over Malvern 2nds at the Entaco.
The 3rds had massive strength in their batting as they piled on the runs, scoring 281-5 off their 45 overs with Naseek Hussain scoring a magnificent 121 and the evergreen Geoff Eley enjoying his first outing of the season with a breezy 84.
Malvern did not surrender and a fine 100 not out from Mike Arnold, ably supported by Kieran Patel (42) and Bradley Smith (38), made the chase interesting, but off-spinner Harry Sharpe put the brakes on with 4-39 and Malvern finished on 245-8.
The 4ths came away from Five Ways Old Eds with an opening-day two-wicket win in Division 12 South/East.
Five Ways made 197-8 off their 40 overs as Harry McDermott led the way with 78 not out. In reply, Redditch’s good mixture of youth and experience prospered as they sneaked home in the 39th over.
James Oakley (31), Allen Smith (30) and a fine 28 not out from Jacob Ottley did the trick.