Long Itchington secured Premier League Cricket for another year by beating a much changed Leamington side on Saturday.
Confidence was very high in the Itchington camp after winning their past two games before travelling to neighbours Leamington. Looking at the league table before the game Itchington knew that a win would mean survival and if Leamington won then it all went down to the final day of the season and 3 or 4 times could join already relegated Catherine De Barnes in Division 1.
Captain Clarke won the toss and decided to bowl on a well prepared wicket. Some might have thought this was a strange decision after Aulakh had fallen in the warm up, injuring his knee but Clarke’s decision was to pay off.
The Wood and Aulakh partnership was about to click into gear and become that destructive opening partnership that ripped through many teams last year. Firstly Wood had the in form Somra caught at second slip by Burnell for 2 with the score only on 5. This brought Jimbo Williams to the crease who showed grit and determination throughout the Leamington innings. Aulakh still struggling with knee problems at the other end showed his determination in order to keep Itchington up by bowling deadly in-swing which demolished number two Gethins off peg with the score on 30.
Itchington on song but with Leamington’s batting line up they still needed to remain focused and this came from the deadly left armed Wood who has teased many batsman this year with them playing and missing but J.Butler followed one and Keeper Clarke took an easy catch. Former Leamington first team captain Rob Williams then strolled out to the middle but Wood snared him the same way as Butler with Williams edging behind for only 2.
Wayne Killian then came out and his aggression with the bat looked like Itchington were in for a long afternoon but you guessed it, Wood again found the edge of his bat and he was caught well by Burnell for only 4.
Leamington on 48-5 and needing someone to stick with Williams at the other end. David Lord wasn’t a bad person to be sending in at number 7 and Itchington were put to the sword by Lord earlier in the season when Leamington beat Itchington convincingly.
Lord and Williams were starting to pull back the Leamington innings and the score passed 80 in the 18th over but then a moment of brilliance by Jake Butler sent David Lord back to the pavilion for only 8 as Butler held on to a bullet of a pull shot from Lord off the bowling of Aulakh
Itchington on fire but Leamington skipper Dale had the right idea and helped Williams secure his half century and this 58 run partnership meant Leamington could still be on course for 200+ but just when these two started to dominate and frustrate Andy Smith took the wicket of Dale for 20.
Smith and Jack took the remainder of the Leamington wickets and they finished all out for 164 with Jimbo Williams not out on 82. A good knock which deserved a century.
Tea was taken and Itchington fantastic first half needed to be matched with the bat. With John Lidster away Tom Perks stepped up to open but disaster struck as McCarthy bowled him with the first ball of Itchington’s innings.
Burnell joined Jack and the itchington crew watched on nervously but these two showed class by taking the game away from Leamington. Burnell was stroking the ball around and arguably Alex Jacks best innings in a Long Itchington shirt meant the whole team could relax. Burnell was caught on 37 but the damage had been done. Cooper followed for 8 but Dodds (15 not out) and Alex Jack 83 not out saw Itchington home. Jack’s 83 came off only 64 balls and included 15 fours.
Itchington won by 7 wickets.
A massive win and a tremendous end to the season sees Itchington stay up. Norton Lindsey travel to Itchington next week and they are still in with a chance of winning the league. Could Itchington win 4 on the bounce?????
Wood – 10-1-40-4
Aulakh – 10-2-40-2
Jack – 9-3-22-2
Smith – 6.5-0-34-2
Jack – 83 not out
Burnell – 37 and 2 catches
Dodds – 15 not out