On Saturday Audlem's Cricketers took the short journey up the A500 to take on their opponents from Kidsgrove CC. The hosts dropped down the league ladder after last season when they decided to enter just one team after the exodus of their semi-professional players seeking gainful employment elsewhere but are expected to be amongst the pace setters in the division as all the remaining squad have league experience at a higher level.
Audlem were missing a number of regulars due to commitments over the Bank Holiday week-end and players suffering minor injuries during last Saturday's epic encounter with Moddershall & Oulton. Due to the situation veteran spinner Neil Humphries who suffered a nasty injury to his bowling hand requiring 6 stiches last Saturday stepped into the breach and turned out with his wound heavily bandaged with just his spinning fingers allowed any movement.
Kidsgrove had obviously done their homework on their opponents and insisted that the strict interpretation of the leg- side wide rule should be implemented for the game before inserting the visitors after winning the toss. Things didn't get off to the best of starts with the dismissal of the belligerent Chris Shenton without troubling the scorer. This brought together Dan Butler(37) and Andy Rothwell (74) to compile a valuable 59 run partnership. With man of the match Andy now forming the backbone of the innings he found another reliable partner in 14 year old Andrew Salmon (16 not out) to put on a further valuable 47 runs and post a competitive total of 178 for 5 off the 40 overs.
On a wicket offering some assistance to the bowlers Audlem were always going to be in the hunt with their varied attack. Things got off to a bright start with Callum McIlveen clean bowling one of the openers in the first over after having his partner Thomas Plant dropped in the slips the previous ball. Plant was joined at the crease by Chris Highfield and went on to take the initiative with Plant riding his luck being dropped on a number of occasions but when they were both dismissed Kidsgrove still required over 60 runs for victory. Audlem now sensed their opportunity and made swift inroads into the home team's middle order. With the regular fall of wickets the required run rate grew to add extra pressure to the incoming batsmen and with the last pair at the crease in the last over with 6 runs needed number 10, Jimmy Jinks tried to launch bowler Dave Parkinson into nearby Bathpool Park but managed to find the safe hands of Callum McIlveen instead to give Audlem a victory that seemed unlikely a few overs previous.
Sunday's game against Burton ( Chester) at the Gorse Croft proved to be another cliff hanger but this time the visitors claimed victory with only 2 balls remaining . Again due to the Bank Holiday Burton were short of numbers but the hosts were able to loan them 3 players for the day to get the game on. Skipper Ollie Banfield had no hesitation in electing to bat on a decent surface after winning the toss. The home batting soon settled in with Usman Ghani (22) ,Nick Hancock (40) Tom Measures ( 50 retired not out) Ollie Banfield (48 not out) & Lauren Kenvyn (42) making the most of the conditions in posting a total of 220 for 5 off the 40 overs.
Burton's batsmen also found the surface to their liking and keeping in touch with the scoring rate throughout the innings( Dan Cook 50 rno : Martyn Powell 52 rno : & Andy Burton 40 were the main contributors ) leading up to the dramatic final over where 8 runs were needed for victory.. with three runs from the first deliveries a pushed single to short cover off the next ball enticed the fielder to attempt to run out the none striker with the ball missing the stumps. wicket keepers valiant attempt and desperate dive by the boundary fielder the batsman was rewarded with a '5' and earn the team a hard earned victory.
The game was played with great spirit between two like-minded teams with enjoyment being the order of the day. A special mention must go to the three girls who represented Audlem and played a huge part in making the game so close. Lauren Kenvyn, Amy Griffiths and Elle Thomas play their Saturday cricket for neighbours Woore and also represent Shropshire girls at county level. They are a product of Woore's very impressive junior academy which caters for children of all ages. It was also great to see the return of 'old boy' Tom Measures after a few years sabbatical and proving he had lost none of his ability scoring an unbeaten 50 on the day.
The scores. upcoming fixtures and contact details can be found on the club's play-cricket website. Next Saturday Audlem play hosts to Newcastle and Hartsill whilst the Sunday X1 take on Wistaston at The Gorse Croft the following day. Both games have a 1:00pm start
Audlem Cricket Club