1st XI win again and stay top, but 2nd XI slip up

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For the second week running Audlem's cricketers had mixed fortunes in their Cheshire Cricket Alliance games. The 1st XI preserved their unbeaten record as they beat Eastham by 6 wickets to remain top of Division 3. The 2nd XI, bidding for promotion from Division 5, saw their hopes dashed again as they lost at Kerridge by 2 wickets in the last over and slipped from fourth to sixth in the table.

1st XI skipper Chris Shenton lost the toss and visitors Eastham elected to bat. The decision looked to be good as openers Gary Blythin and Tony Carson pummelled Audlem's opening bowlers racing to 61 before Blythin was caught by wicketkeeper Paul Dean off Stuart Elkes' bowling for 38. Another wicket for Elkes and two for Rich Brown had the visitors in trouble at 84 for 4 as Audlem gained the upper hand. Spinner Lyndon Woodcock was brought into the attack and when he bowled Carson for 24 Eastham's resolve crumbled. Woodcock and Brown mopped up the tail very quickly as Eastham lost their last six wickets for ten runs and were all out for 104 in just 32 overs. Woodcock took 4 for 4 off six overs, Brown 4 for 54 and Elkes 2 for 40.

Despite having 58 overs to reach the target, Shenton went for the runs from the start, but he was bowled by Carson when the score was 15, having scored all the runs as Andy Capper played the anchor role. Dean joined Capper and he continued the run chase but when Dean was bowled for 17, the home team were 35 for 2. The pressure mounted on Audlem as first Capper and the Gareth Pritchard were out to leave the score at 43 for 4. Steady batting by Tom Measures (29 not out) and Brown (31 not out) saw Audlem cruise to victory in the 30th over as Audlem reached 108 for 4. Audlem gained 20 points and Eastham 6.

The 2nd XI travelled to Kerridge looking to put their promotion hopes back on track after last week's defeat. Skipper John Wainwright lost the toss and Kerridge elected to field. The decision proved to be sound as the home team's veteran bowlers Steve Bubb and Geoff Allen had Audlem reeling at 45 for 7. A magnificent 62 not out by Norman HIndle, ably supported by his lower order batsmen, took the final total to a respectable 143 for 9 off 48 overs. Hindle's innings was a fine display of batting, especially his hooks and pull shots which included a mighty six into the adjoining meadow. Allen took 4 for 24 and Bubb 3 for 22 for the home team.

Audlem's trio of bowlers set about their work against the determined Kerridge batsmen and the game was in the balance for most of the innings. Unfortunately for the visitors, the arrival of the belligerent Ryan Taylor to the crease swung the game in the home team's favour. With just 5 balls to spare he won the game with a huge six to finish on 71 not out. Toby Banfield was the star fielder taking three fine catches. Olly Burney (2 for 32), Roy Wild (5 for 63) and John Chadwick (1 for 42) were Audlem's wicket takers as Kerridge reached 146 for 8. Kerridge gained 20 points and Audlem 10.

On Saturday the 2nd XI travel to the Wirral to play Port Sunlight, whilst the 1st XI entertain Sandbach on Sunday, the game being rescheduled as one of Sandbach's players is getting married on the Saturday. Both games start at 2 pm. Editor's comment — fancy arranging your wedding on a Saturday during the cricket season!