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SSCC_Winter2015_Newsletter_Page_1Saturday 19th September 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Rushton 1st XI

Stony went into their fixture against Rushton needing just 6 points to guarantee survival. Thus, the logical thing to do after winning the toss for Vicram Sohal was to bat first.

Despite slumping to 17-2, and then 49-3, Stony’s innings was one of steady progress. Sohal led by example, as he occupied the crease for 109 balls, scoring 69 invaluable runs in the process. His fourth wicket partner, Wesley Fernando, was left on 45 not out when Sohal was eventually dismissed. Although Ben Mitchell could only add 3, Graham Simpson hung around long enough for Fernando to make something of his final Stony opportunity. He finished 105 not out, and managed to get the total up to 238. He dominated both the strike and the Rushton bowlers as Stony’s run rate increased significantly in the final few overs of the innings.

Stony’s efforts with the ball this season have often been far superior to their efforts with the bat. In this case, they needed 3 wickets to guarantee their survival, and that they got within the first 30 runs of Rushton’s reply. With premier league cricket already secured for next year, things were only to get better for the men from Ostler’s Lane. Andrew Ellemore and Kamran Anwar took 3 wickets each, with Graham Simpson and Jamie Baxter also taking 2. Arguably, this was Stony’s most complete performance of the season, as they bowled Rushton out for 138.

Undeniably, it’s been a difficult season for the firsts. They have, however, performed at the crucial stages, with some vital wins in the latter stages. With teams such as Peterborough and Finedon always around the top of the league, and Rushton with a sudden increase in finances, the other premier league sides will always find it hard. That only adds more credibility to what Stony have achieved this year, in a really difficult league.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs St Cripsin and Ryelands 1st XI

The seconds’ final game of the season was one that didn’t carry any true significance. Already with the knowledge that next season would be played out in the third division, this was a chance for the twos to express themselves and enjoy the game.

St Crispin batted first and made a steady start. Both openers reached double figures, but soon enough Stony had their breakthrough. Opener Kevin Wijesinge dismissed Robotham for 19 after his opening partner, Chris Swain, had ‘softened him up’. That first wicket then led to another three in relatively quick succession. Neil Allen removed Crispin’s numbers 3 and 4, before taking care of their other opening batsman too. 4 down, the visitors’ hopes of posting a big first innings total were looking increasingly unlikely. However, a reasonable partnership then ensued. Martin Quenby hit fifty, and was ably backed up by 35 from both Mark Richardson Kyle Smith. Their efforts got the visitors up to a respectable 210 for 7.

In reply, Stony got off to a tricky start. Andy Miller was dismissed for 7, while Simon Chapman and Prasanna Chandran made 14 and 15 respectively. Thankfully for the hosts, Wijesinge played well and made a start. Although wickets fell at the other end, his 41 kept the twos in with a chance. Oswin Peter then joined Rob Arnold at the crease, and provided the required momentum. His 55, supported by Arnold’s 34 brought Stony within five runs of St Crispin. Unfortunately, they ended up 5 runs short, but secured a losing draw. This result arguably reflects the seconds’ season, as they promised a lot in places, but were never able to quite get over the line. They finished 103 points off safety in the end, but there’s no reason they won’t thrive in division three.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Rushton 2nd XI

Rushton’s 2nds played Stony’s 3rds at Ostlers Lane in their final game of the season. Stony have enjoyed a relatively successful campaign. While rarely threatening to gain promotion (despite some early season success), they have been consistently solid and finished the year in a respectable fifth spot.

Rushton batted first and made a promising start. Openers Frankcam and Thompson both reached the twenties, until Steven Osborne removed both of them. He then also picked up the wicket of Loake for 1, leaving Rushton 3 down. The visitors’ skipper, Dean Joy, then came to the crease and provided some stability. Although he lost Martin Roberts to Tom Moore, his half century was well supported by Shaun Parker. Joy was dismissed eventually for 59, before 13 more were added by John Pike. A special mention should be given to Joe West, as the youngster picked up his first third team wicket. Certainly, he will be part of Stony’s plans going forward, and is a promising young player.

Stony’s reply started very well. Andy Preston was typically solid, and made 43 runs in typical fashion. Tom Moore made 13, and Sumeet Nag also hit 44. Add to that Paul West’s 32, and Stony were well and truly in the driving seat. However, the lower middle order weren’t able to capitalise on a great start, as they lost 4 wickets for fewer than 10 runs. The game ended in a draw, as Stony weren’t able to reach Rushton’s 199 without the risk of losing all ten of their wickets.

All in all though, a successful campaign for the thirds. They can look forward to something similar next year, while hopefully pushing themselves up the league.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Irthlingborough Town 3rd XI

With promotion already secured, this was a great opportunity for the fourth team to enjoy their last game of the season.

That they did. Stony decided to bowl first, and both Matthew Parker and Tom Hoy bowled very well up top. Without taking any wickets, they only conceded 19 runs between them off a combined total of 12 overs. That paved the way for Jake Vickers to enjoy some truly spectacular success. The youngster bowled with control and flight, and ended with his best senior bowling figures. 6-15 represents a fantastic effort by another of Stony’s young talents, but the efforts of Jeff Stopford should not go unnoticed. He took the other four wickets, and finished with 4-19. Irthlingborough were bowled out for 69, and Stony had the perfect chance to win the game.

Rob Wells and Craig Jolley opened up, and out-ruled any real chance of an upset. Wells hit 19 and Jolley 30, before they were dismissed. One more wicket fell, but the openers had done most of the damage. Jasper Price and Jake Vickers were then able to get the side over the line, securing a seven wicket victory.

Overall, a fantastic season for the fourth team. At the first time of asking, they’ve been promoted, and there is no reason that they won’t secure back to back promotions!

Saturday 12th September 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Brixworth 1st XI

Stony’s fixture away at Brixworth might well have proven decisive for their season, had they taken 22 points or more back to Ostler’s Lane. The game was hardly a must win, with Geddington and Horton House both below the first team in the table, but a win here would be more than useful.

Stony lost the toss and Brixworth chose to bat first. Still not safe themselves, Brixworth would look to bat Stony out of the match and control the game. After around twenty overs though, it was the visitors who were in control. Brixworth were reduced to 49-3, with Alex Strong (2) and Kamran Anwar (1) making the breakthroughs. After the opening bowlers’ stint, Andrew Ellemore was introduced into the attack, and he was successful in removing James Jarvis. At 81-4, Stony had a great opportunity to keep their opponents to under 200. However, Brixworth’s Paul Blakemore took matters into his own hands. While wickets fell at the other end, he hit an outstanding 126*, leading his team to 257-7 after 55 overs. Now, Stony were faced with a very difficult chase indeed, once again failing to capitalise on their early success.

When it came to Stony’s innings, there was probably little chance of a successful chase. Those chances decreased further when the visitors lost Praveen Chandran for 12, and then Sai Ravikumar for 19. Vicram Sohal and James Pickles battled well after that, but Sohal was eventually dismissed for 35, leaving the score on 80-3.

Wesley Fernando joined Pickles at the crease and played in a more aggressive way than his partner. He batted positively, making his way to 30 while his partner continued to occupy the crease very successfully. When Fernando fell Pickles had 46*, and Stony 153-4. Unfortunately, Chris Swain could only last 3 balls as he was bowled for 0 by Ross McLean. Kamran Anwar was then able to steady the ship a little, before James Pickles fell for a well-played 63.

From 188-6, a win looked all but out of the question, and so it proved. A lower order collapse left Stony 203-9, before Stephen Richardson was run out without facing a ball, giving Brixworth a victory in the final over. Hopefully this loss won’t prove too crucial, with Stony only needing 6 points to guarantee their safety this coming Saturday (and that’s assuming Geddington take 30 points from Peterborough).

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Brigstock 1st XI

Stony’s second team hosted second-placed Brigstock in their final home game of the season, with the visitors looking to gain maximum points and secure promotion.

Brigstock won the toss and, in line with their 30 point target, decided to bat. Stony had some early success when Kevin Wijesinge bowled Brigstock’s overseas player in his fourth over. However, Josh Whitehead’s absence made it harder for them to maintain any pressure, and Brigstock’s numbers 2 and 3 were the only batsmen required by the visitors. Both ended shy of three figures, but had given their team every opportunity to put pressure on Stony. They finished 238-1 from 44 overs, giving themselves more time to take all 10 wickets.

3 of those 10 fell quickly, as Chapman, Mitchell and Simpson all fell for single-figure scores. Varun Kale and Jamie Walsh then offered a bit of resistance, each getting starts. However, neither could convert that start into an innings of substance, as they fell for 23 and 22 respectively. Stony’s middle order didn’t offer too much resistance, although Oswin Peter did top score as he attempted to counter-attack. Brigstock duly collected their 30 points, as the seconds were unable to repeat their performance last time out, when they beat Irthlingborough. This game was always likely to be tricky though, with the focus at the club now well and truly on the first team, and the seconds already a Division 3 club for next year.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Yelvertoft 1st XI

Stony’s third team have had a successful season, without it being a startling one. This Saturday’s performance was not, however, reflective of that. Despite Andy Preston playing very well for 84, none of the top order made it out of single figures. Fielding a young side was always going to make it very difficult, but Graham Brandom’s 33 at number 8 was the only other score of any note. Had it not been for him and Preston, the thirds’ total might have been embarrassing.

Although Michael Brown was able to pick up a couple of wickets, Yelvertoft knocked off the 166 runs comfortably. Brown had, in fact, undoubtedly frightened the visitors as his two wickets came early on. However, 72 from Ratnayke and 88 from Burnett ensured that those worries were entirely unnecessary.

Regardless of this, Stony’s thirds have had a fine season. This match allowed them to field a few youngsters, who will have benefited hugely from playing division 5 cricket. 

Saturday 5th September 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Oundle Town 1st XI

For the first team’s game against Oundle, they returned to Ostler’s Lane for the first time in a couple of years. In a bid to get a bit more home support, and a track that benefited Stony’s bowlers, the firsts moved their fixture away from Campbell Park in the absence of any fourth team cricket.

Stony won the toss and bowled first on what looked a helpful pitch. With a bit of cloud cover on top of that, the hosts had made a logical call. That proved to be the case as well, as Stony took regular wickets. Alex Strong made the breakthrough with the score 24, and Oundle were reduced to 57-3, 100-5 and 113-6. At six wickets down, Oundle looked like they might struggle to made 160, as Stony’s seamers bowled with discipline on a helpful wicket. Unfortunately though, a recovery then ensued. Oundle’s Greaves and Cunningham occupied the crease and scored at a reasonable rate. Although Stephen Richardson managed to remove Greaves before he got to fifty, the partnership had taken Stony’s target over the 200 mark, with the visitors’ final score a competitive 209-7. Stony had bowled well though before Oundle got away a little, with Alex STong finishing with figures of 4-40.

The homeside’s chase got off to a reasonable start, with James pickles battling well against the pace of Petrus Jeftha. Praveen Chandran fell with the score on 24 though, as he walked across his stumps and was duly struck in front. Vicram Sohal came to the crease, and things looked to be going the home side’s way. However, Pickles was out for 21, Sohal nicked off to Hussain and Swain was bowled by the same bowler. At 58-4, Stony’s target looked a very long way away. However, Nick Allen now joined Wesley Fernando at the crease, to form what would be a match-defining partnership. Fernando batted positively, while Allen was a little more circumspect. Both passed fifty though, bringing their side right back into contention. With Stony’s long tail though, one felt that the game was theirs to win.

Fernando eventually fell for 65, but much of the work had been done. Although Allen was also dismissed, Stony were within 15 of their target, with Anwar at Strong at the crease. The two of them managed to secure the win and an invaluable 22 points. With two games to go, one more win should be enough to secure premier league cricket for next season.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Irthlingborough Town 1st XI

Stony’s second team have endured a torrid season, there’s no denying that. They’ll be playing next season in division three, but still have a chance to put in some performances they can take back with them.

Against Irthlingborough, they batted first. They didn’t start well, losing Sai Ravikumar for just 3. Ben Mitchell played well at the top of the order, as he was joined early on by Graham Simpson. Mitchell fell though, and that triggered a middle order collapse that saw Chandran and Wijesinge also back in the hut very quickly. That brought Varun Kale to the crease, while Simpson hadn’t looked troubled at the other end. Kale played second fiddle to Simpson, before he was dismissed for a well-made 14. Andrew Miller then came in and added an invaluable 29. Simpson finished with 81 to his name, as Stony ended up with 171-8.

Irtlingborough made a steady start to their innings, bringing up the fifty without losing a wicket. However, Wijesinge then took two wickets in quick succession, before Simpson also took one. At 54-3, the game looked finely poised. Simpson’s second made it 82-4, before Oswin Peter added another wicket to that total. 100-5 soon became 101-6, leaving Stony well and truly in the driving seat. It was never going to be easy to secure the win though, as Irthlinborough’s numbers 7 and 8 put up a real fight. Ben Arnold was the man who made the breakthrough, as his contribution of 2-17 put any idea of a fightback from the homeside out of the question. Stony’s margin of victory was 15 runs in the end, as an elusive win for the twos finally presented itself.

Saturday 30th August 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Wollaston 1st XI

After a fantastic win last weekend, the firsts’ fate is in their own hand. A trip to Wollaston was what faced them this Saturday, with a win being eyed to make their survival bid more likely than not. As is customary at the end of the season, with teams all desperate to get as many points as possible, Wollaston won the toss and elected to bat.

Stony had an early wicket when Kamran Anwar removed Matt Jones for 11, but from that point it was hard going for the visitors. A substantial partnership ensued, taking the score into the hundreds, as Ralph and Mosey both passed 50. When the breakthrough did come, the score was 171 with Mosey unbeaten on 79. Thankfully for Stony, he wasn’t able to add many more to that total. He departed for 85 thanks to Steve Richardson, with Kamran Anwar also taking care of Wollaston’s number 4. Having clawed themselves back into the game, Stony bowled well for the rest of the innings and restricted their opponents to 234 for 8 from their 55 overs. 

Stony didn’t start their chase well. Arvind Ramesh was out cheaply, leaving the visitors 6-1. However, following Ramesh’s dismissal a reasonable partnership got going. Praveen Chandran and Vicram Sohal both made over 40 as the score moved onto 83. 83-1 was soon 83-3 though, and Stony continued to lose wickets from there. Sohal was out, and Chris Swain didn’t last particularly long. At 134-5, it looked unlikely that Stony would reach their target. However, Wesley Fernando continued to bat positively, and kept the visitors in with a chance. When he was out for 72, Wollaston might have sensed a chance of winning. Stony got close but didn’t quite have enough to get over the line. Thankfully, Baxter and Ellemore kept their wickets in hand to deny Wollaston a victory.

A losing draw isn’t a bad result. Stony go into their match against Oundle next Saturday off the bottom spot, and perhaps just one win away from safety.

Stony Stratford 2rd XI vs Kettering Town 1st XI

It’s been a difficult season for Stony’s second XI. They’re down unfortunately, and will have to play next season in division three. However, they have a few games left in division two to prove themselves.

Stony bowled first, and got off to a very good start. Henry Charter and Kevin Wijesinge picked up early wickets, and continued to apply pressure throughout the innings. Kettering’s batsmen never got going, and all made starts without converting. Twenties and Teens were common throughout the scorecard, as they ended up being bowled out for 179. Charter finished with 4 wickets, Wijesinge with 3, Graham Simpson with 2 and Ed Tate with 1. The wickets were shared equally, as a brilliant performance was rewarded.

Unfortunately, Stony’s batsmen didn’t back up their bowlers. The 2s were bowled out for 105, giving Kettering the victory and condemning Stony to another defeat. Not combining batting performances with bowling performances has been the issue all year round, and that has proved damaging.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Higham Ferrers 1st XI

Stony’s thirds have been more than solid all year, and always up the right end of the table. Promotion hasn’t looked likely since the early weeks of the season, but performances have been good enough, with plenty of positive results as well.

The thirds bowled first on Saturday, and Michael Brown was effective as usual. He picked up 4 wickets and inspired a good all round performance. Higham Ferrers were bowled out for 102 after 40 overs, Steve Osborne taking 3 wickets and Abdul Qader 2. Neil Fewtrell was as tidy as always, and picked up a wicket himself. If there was any doubt of a successful chase in the third team dressing room, it was soon dispelled. Stony kncked the runs off without losing any wickets, as Any Preston and Varun Kale got themselves some runs. Preston made 45 and Kale 49 as the runs were knocked off after 24 overs. Another great performance for the thirds then, and plenty to take from the season.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Grange Park 1st XI

Stony’s fourth XI could secure promotion with a win against Grange Park. After a few negative results, they’ve picked up a lot in recent weeks. Promotion here would certainly represent the perfect start to NCL life.

Grange Park won the toss and asked Stony to bat first. The men from Ostlers Lane got off to a poor start though, as Jake Vickers and Craig Jolley were both out cheaply. Skipper Neil Jolley came in at three though, and ensured Stony got runs on the board. He batted well throughout, and rarely looked like being dismissed. He was ably supported by young Jasper Price, who struck a superb 62 before eventually falling to Rob Pinnington. Price and Jolley made the most of their opportunities, and might even have been disappointed not to get to three figures. Glyn Lewis added a brisk 35, pushing Stony’s score up to a competitive 206.

Grange Park were always going to try and win the game, and they came out with a positive mindset. Stony took wickets at regular intervals though, and were always slightly ahead. Chris Saint opened the bowling, and returned with figures of 4-33, while Jeff Stopford also took four wickets, but for 19. Saint’s efforts sealed the win at the end of Grange Park’s innings, as he took the final three wickets in an excellent spell of bowling.

Stony’s fourth XI have been promoted at the first time of asking, and fully merit that achievement. Players both young and old have performed for the 4s this season, and if they can continue to do that next year, consecutive promotions are not out of the question.

Saturday 8th August 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Old Northamptonians 1st XI

Stony's firsts hosted O.Ns on Saturday at Campbell park, after a difficult trip to Peterborough last time round. While a victory might have looked unlikely at the start of the day, it would be very important to get as many points as possible from a typically difficult fixture.

Stony batted first after winning the toss, but it was the visitors who got off to the better start. Tom Webb dismissed Praveen Chandran for 4, before also getting rid of Hulbert. The score was 31-2 when Nick Allen came in, and he batted well with Vicram Sohal for a time. Allen moved into double figures, before becoming Webb's third victim. Wesley Fernando then came in and made 16, before James Pickles added 12. While others were falling at the other end, Sohal was playing well. He went past 50 when Alex Strong walked out, and then pushed on. Eventually he fell to Richard Kaufman for 69, but he'd played that all important innings of substance. Stony were bowled out for 160, giving ONs an extra 5 overs to score the runs.

Kamran Anwar and Alex Strong opened up for Stony, and began well. Despite some big early hitting from Rob White, Anwar dismissed him for 23. Strong then got rid of Tom Webb for 8, giving Stony a very encouraging start. Andrew Ellemore then made that start even better, reducing the score to 58-3.

Stony continued to make the most of their strong start, when Anwar had his second. ONs were now 59-4, but Zaakir Khawaja was going well. A bit of a partnership then followed, with Khawaja and James Grayson adding to the scoreboard. The all important breakthrough came when Vicram Sohal had Khawaja caught by James Pickles. He was out for 37, with the score left on 105-5. That became 105-6, thanks to Kamran Anwar. 110-6 then became 111-9, with Anwar claiming an excellent five wicket haul. Strong was then brought back into the attack, and was able to clean up Tom Pedel to secure an excellent win for Stony. This performance from the firsts was a really fantastic one in the field. All catches were taken, and Nick Allen captained aggressively and was pro-active. Anwar's performance stood out, as he seemed to raise his game for the occasion.

The battle to avoid the drop has been swinging one way and then the other all season, but this was a huge result. Stony now need to capitalise on this victory, and they can ensure that they avoid the drop.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Thrapston 1st XI

Stony's seconds have struggled all year, there is no denying that. On this occasion, they faced a Thrapston side who were also struggling. They sat above Stony, but only by one place. Both sides wanted to bat so as to have a shot at maximum points, but it was Stony who won the toss. They duly batted, and looked to set a score of 230 plus on a ground with small boundaries.

That target looked some way off when Sai Ravikumar fell in the first over. Having recently made 100, he failed to get into double figures on this occasion. Despite that, Chapman and Simpson then formed a bit of a partnership. Chapman fell for 23, bringing captain Swain out to bat. Graham Simpson worked the ball around nicely, while Swain hit some big sixes over to the short boundary. The score was moving along at a good pace, and when Simpson fell for 54 he was visibly frustrated. He hit one straight up in the air, giving the Thrapston fielder a simple catch.

Prasanna Chandran looked to continue Simpson's good work when he came out, scoring 28 in quick time. The rest of the order then batted around Swain, who reached his hundred in style. He had played expansive shots through both the offside and the legside on his way to an invaluable ton for his team. 253 was not an unachievable target with such small boundaries, but if Stony bowled well they would expect to see the game home.

Kevin Wijesinge got Stony's early wicket, removing George Groenland for just 4. Josh Whitehead then added to that start, trapping Thrapston's number 3 for a duck. Ryan Wright then fell for 9, putting Stony well in charge with the score roughly 50-3. Paul Spiker was going well all this time, and Mark Palmer joined him and knuckled down. Thrapston looked well on the way to a victory, but Neil Allen then took two quick wickets, including the one of Spiker's. While Thrapston's opener had arguably thrown it away, Allen had once again provided the all important breakthrough. Then, it was time for Josh Whitehead to step up. Having bowled well in his first spell, he came back at the end and bowled full and straight. He was able to clean up the tail and secure Stony an excellent win.

This still leaves Stony stranded at the bottom, but a victory should not be undervalued.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Burton Latimer 2nd XI

Stony chose to bat first when visiting Burton on Saturday, giving themselves the best chance of maximum points. Should the threes win the majority of their remaining fixtures, they will still be in with a realistic chance of promotion.

Stony didn't start particularly well, losing opener Andy Preston for just 8. Varun Kale came out and played positively, and although he found the edge on a few occasions, moved through the twenties. He was eventually dismissed for 34, but had played well. Burton continued to take regular wickets, and when Oswin Peter came in at 7 the game was finely poised. Asad Masroor had hit 26, and Sumeet Nag was still at the crease. When Nag also fell for 26, Michael Brown joined Peter at the crease. The two senior players stemmed the tide of falling wickets, and pushed the scoreboard on significantly. Both hit fifties, and both hit 7 fours and one six. Their efforts got the thirds to a more than competitive 251-7.

Burton would have to bat well to chase the total down, and their efforts weren't helped by some excellent Stony bowling. Not for the first time this season, Michael Brown bowled especially well, and picked up five-for. Neil Fewtrell was also rewarded for some very tidy bowling, as he picked up four. None of Burton's batsmen got out of single figures, as the innings was wrapped up for just 50, Ben Arnold taking the last wicket.

This result leaves Stony in a comfortable position up the right end of the table. The thirds host table-toppers Kislingbury next week, in what is sure to be a very competitive match. Should that game provide a positive result, Stony will fancy their chances of another late push for promotion.

Saturday1st August 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Peterborough 1st XI

When teams travel to Peterborough or Finedon, they generally don't expect to win. This visit was no exception really, as Stony sat bottom while Peterborough still looked to heap pressure on the top of the league.

Peterborough elected to bat first, searching for a crucial 30 point win. Stony stuck to their guns pretty well throughout, not allowing Peterborough to go at the rate they may have hoped for. That said, it took until the score was 93 to get the first breakthrough, which came as Vicram Sohal dismissed Asim Butt. Every two wickets would be a point for Stony, so it was essential that they continued to take them.

Sohal continued to keep things tight, but the wickets didn't come. Peterborough continued to score runs at a reasonable rate, and went past 150 with 9 wickets still intact. 183-1 became 183-2 as Sohal took his second in unusual fashion, David Clarke hitting his wicket on 90. Alex Strong then removed Tim Young for 46, before the home side went past 200. Peterborough declared on 227-4, giving Stony two bowling points.

Perhaps 227 was a getable total, but the innings never really got going. Opener Chandran fell for 2, before Stony's batsmen were dismissed at regular intervals. No-one made telling contributions or managed to bat for any significant amount of time. Stony have lacked a prolific run scorer all year, and once again that came back to haunt them. They were dismissed for 127, which got them just one batting point.

While a win away at Peterborough would have been unexpected, it was a shame the firsts couldn't pick up more than 3 points. That said, should a couple of wins come along then Stony will fancy their chances. Horton aren't picking up many points at all, and they seem to be Stony's major relegation rivals.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Great Oakley 1st XI

The seconds really have to win games now, it's as simple as that. They chose to bat first against Great Oakley on Saturday, in the hope that a big win would come along.

Stony started well, before Simon Chapman was out caught for 10, leaving the score 33-1. That brought Graham Simpson to the crease, who batted well and established a partnership with Sai Ravikumar. The two of them looked to be setting Stony up for a big first innings total, until Simpson fell to Lee Bell. 119-2 quickly became 119-3, as Andy Ward was dismissed for 0 to the same bowler. Chris Swain then came in and was able to speed the scoring rate up a little, but his innings also coincided with the run out of Ravikumar.

Swain made a brisk 26, before a few runs from the lower middle order got the score up to a competitive 187. Scoreboard pressure would make that a difficult total to chase down. However, Alan York came out and but the seconds on the back foot. He hit 69 off just 48 balls, before eventually falling to Graham Simpson. That breakthrough could have been crucial, as Ryan Alderson was then dismissed for 0.

However, Great Oakley knocked off the remaining runs without losing another wicket, condemning the twos to yet another defeat. Great Oakley's batsman played well for sure, but the bowling attack weren't able to use the scoreboard pressure from the first innings to their advantage.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Wellingborough Indians 2nd XI

Stony's thirds were asked to bat first by Wellingborough Indians on Saturday, and they got off to a steady start.

Andy Preston and Varun Kale got things off to a decent start. Stony's top four all made contributions, but none of them were able to convert their starts. Preston fell for 29, while Ramesh and Masroor hit 22 and 21 respectively. Stony then lost two quick wickets, before Oswin Peter came in and added 13. The threes would still have felt a little light though, so it was just as well that Michael Brown came in and scored runs at number 9. He hit a swift 24, which was backed up by a couple of lusty blows from Deepak Ravikumar.

Stony had made 165, which was certainly something to bowl at. Michael brown's runs had provided some much needed momentum going into the innings change, but he will undoubtedly always remember this game for his effort with the ball. He took 8 wickets as Stony won comprehensively, and if ever there was an obvious man of the match award to be given out, one need look no further than the thirds' opening bowler.

Brown looked on for taking all ten wickets, but Sean Patten decided he wanted to get in on the act too, so dismissed the last two Indians' batsmen. Brown dismissed most of the visitors' batting order for single figures, but when a partnership did come along, he was the one to break it.

This result leaves the thirds comfortably in mid-table. There is no risk of relegation, but equally promotion still looks unlikely at this stage. If Michael Brown can stay fit and available though, who would bet against it?

Saturday 25th July 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Horton House 1st XI

The firsts hosted Horton House on Saturday in what might well prove to be a season-defining match. With Stony bottom, and Horton second bottom going into the game this was a game both sides had to win, and neither could afford to lose.

Stony had luck on their side early on in the game, as they won the toss. Choosing to field first, it would be essential to restrict Horton early on, and to take early wickets. They succeeded in doing that, as Andrew Ellemore removed Charlie Macdonell for just 7, and then Elliot Ruff for 2. 11-2 became 30-3 when Ellemore had his third, having dealt with Horton's top 3. Then, it was Henry Charter's turn. He took two more Horton wickets to reduce the visitors to 47-5, before Kamran Anwar joined the party, making it 52-6.

Then Horton managed to put a partnership together. Had they not, Stony could have been looking at a chase of around 75 to win. As it was, the visitors got themselves up to 145-6 when their next wicket fell. That breakthrough was provided by Jamie Baxter, leaving Anwar to mop up the innings for 156. Stony would have an extra 7 overs to reach their target, and this was unmistakably a golden opportunity.

Stony started off well, with Mark Hulbert and Praveen Chandran making steady progress. Hulbert fell with the score on 32, bringing Vicram Sohal to the crease. He saw the score through to 72 before falling, leaving Chandran at the crease on 36. Wesley Fernando then came and went without scoring though, as did Sai Ravikumar. A comfortable 72-1 was now a somewhat precariously balanced 73-4. Chandran was the next to go, leaving Stony 89-5. James Pickles and skipper Nick Allen were together at the crease, with almost 70 runs still required. Pickles was dismissed, as was his successor Anwar, with the firsts 102-7, needing their lower order to perform.

Lots was also on the shoulders of Allen, and he rose to the occasion. Much should be said for the performance of Jamie Baxter too, who made 17 unbeaten runs along with his skipper's 40 to guide Stony home. Not perhaps the most relaxing of victories then, but a victory nonetheless! That result leaves Stony one off bottom, with Wollaston now occupying that spot after their losing draw. Horton sit just above, with three teams well and truly in the mix. Should Stony secure another win soon that would be invaluable, but they did all they could here to provide some much-needed momentum.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Horton House 2nd XI

Much like the first team, Stony's 2nd XI faced an important match against Horton. That said, if the twos are to survive then all of their remaining games will be important.

Once again drawing similarities with the first team's fixture, Stony won the toss and elected to have a bowl. Josh Whitehead got the men from Ostler's lane off to a great start when he removed Kieron Das and Charlie Hill, both for single figures. It was then Nic Bond's turn to get in on the wickets, as he dismissed Matt Ryan for 27 and Alex Mills for 9. While Jonathan Phipps made 41, there were no big scores from the home side as Stony bowled particularly well. Graham Simpson took 3 middle order wickets, before Sam Sibley wrapped up the tail. Horton had been dismissed for 150 with 5 balls of their innings left, leaving Stony to chase down the runs at a required rate of three per over.

This had been a really good all-round bowling performance, with the wickets being shared as evenly as possible among four bowlers. In reply, Simon Chapman provided dismissal gave Horton the start they wanted, as he was out for 4. Following a promotion up the order, Ben Mitchell was looking good at number 2, with he and Graham Simpson starting to build a partnership. He was then removed by John Friendship-Taylor though, which inspired a Stony batting collapse. Horton's first change bowler blew away Stony's middle order, with Chris Swain the only batsman below number 3 to offer any resistance. He made 17, but Friendship-Taylor's 5-for was enough to condemn Stony's seconds to another defeat.

It does look glum for Stony now. That's not to say all is lost, not by any stretch, but wins need to come now, and fast. There are a couple more fixtures that will be important for both sides, and the twos simply must win those games to have a chance of surviving.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Kettering Town 2nd XI

Stony's third team would have hoped to mirror the firsts and seconds, as a damp looking Kettering town was screaming out to be bowled first on. Unfortunately, the thirds found themselves batting first against their will.

Kettering's openers started well with the new ball, and removed Varun Kale for just 1. Andy Preston and Josh Purchese battled hard, but it wasn't too long before Preston was adjudged LBW. Stony then lost their third wicket, as Joel Coxon chipped one straight up in the air. While the threes were in a bit of trouble at 30-3, Purchese was going nicely. He was joined by Sumeet Nag, who played in typically counter-attacking fashion. He fell for 22 just as Purchese reached 50, with Stony making a bit of a comeback. Jamie Walsh then came in and added 10 before he was out, paving the way for a mini-partnership between Purchese and Alex Stockton. Stockton fell for 14, and was soon followed by Purchese who had made a brilliant 76. It was down to Oswin Peter to try and get the score up and beyond 200, and he did not disappoint. He hit 44 quick runs, steering Stony to a commanding 227-9. On that pitch and after that start, 227 was an excellent score.

The thirds will have fancied their chances here provided they bowled well. Deepak Ravikumar struck early, removing Martin Reece for 3, but it was apparent that wickets wouldn't come too easily. Michael Brown then removed Kettering's other opener though, before Rob Starsmore came in. From there on in Stony's bowlers disappointed unfortunately. Simply too many extras were conceded, and not enough discipline was maintained. Oswin Peter removed Starsmore for 49, but Kettering got home eventually, despite a tidy spell from Sam Stevens and Jamie Walsh.

This result leaves the thirds in mid-table obscurity. They are not in any realistic danger of going down, but perhaps any idea of a promotion is now gone.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Isham 3rd XI

Stony's 4th team hosted Isham this weekend, needing to get back to winning ways after a bit of a slump.

Isham won the toss and asked Stony to bat, but the hosts got off to the better start. Jake Vickers made 29, with Craig Jolley making 34. Michael Wells then contributed 21, but Jasper Price was the stand out performer. He hit 45 runs during partnerships with Neil Jolley (16) and Joe West (25). While Price top scored, the secret to Stony's competitive 190 was the consistency of their batting order. Everyone chipped in without exception, and Stony's total would take some getting.

The fours' bowling performance couldn't have been a lot better. It's difficult to pick out any performers for the simple reason that everyone chipped in again. Matt Parkin took 2, Chris Saint 3, Craig Jolley 4 and Jake Vickers 1 as Isham were skittled for 73. Jolley removed Isham's number 3 for 30, and then mopped up the tail. Saint removed numbers 2, 5 and 6 while Parkin dealt with numbers 1 and 4.

From a batting, bowling and fielding perspective, Stony were all but perfect. Everyone was involved, and everyone played a vital part. This was possibly the most complete performance from a Stony side this year, and sets up a very exciting end to the season.

Saturday 18th July

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Northampton Saints 1st XI

Stony batted first on Saturday at the home of Northampton Saints, and got off to a decent start. Despite losing opener Praveen Chandran with the score on 34, the visitors went past 50 and into the 70s. Their second wicket fell though, when James Pickles was dismissed by Corbyn Dolley for 33. His wicket was then followed by that of Wesley Fernando. The Sri Lankan made just 4 before falling to the same bowler. Nick Allen and Graham Simpson then also found themselves back in the hut, with Vicram Sohal running out of partners.

Sohal had moved into the 30s, but Stony had slumped to 106-5 when he was joined at the crease by Prasana Chandran. Sohal then fell himself to an LBW decision off the bowling of Mark Wolstenholme. The score was 120-6, which was certainly rather light batting first on such a small ground. Although Jamie Baxter and Andrew Ellemore were able to get themselves into double figures, they were also claimed by Corbyn Dolley as Stony were bowled out for an under par 143 inside 42 overs.

Bowlers Wolstenholme and Dolley had shared the wickets, each taking 5. If Stony were to avoid defeat in this one they would have to do it with a win, by bowling Saints out. While few would have bet on that eventuality being realised, Baxter's leg spin was good enough to reduce the hosts to 6-1. Chris Harris was bowled second ball to give Stony some early hope. Fellow opener Josh Turner didn't last long either. This time Baxter took the catch, Ellemore being the bowler. Saints were 26-2, and that unlikely victory had increased in probability slightly.

A couple more wickets for not many runs would make this one very interesting. However, Corby Dolley followed up his wickets with a convincing batting display. He and Jack Mousley took the score past 50, before Henry Charter had Mousley caught by Ben Arnold for 27. Unfortunately that was the last bit of success the firsts experienced, as Saints went on to knock off the rest of the runs. Dolley finished on 67* and Patrick Bright 28.

It was always going to be difficult to bat first under these circumstances, with confidence a little low and bowlers Alex Strong and Kamran Anwar both out. It certainly turned out that way, as Stony never posted enough runs to be in with a real chance. The first team now sit bottom, but will certainly keep battling hard to ensure their survival.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Northampton Saints 2nd XI

Luck hasn't been on the side of Stony's second team this season. As a result, when Campbell park served up a track that screamed 'bat first' at both captains, the toss went the way of Saints.

They duly elected to have a bat, and made it very tough for the Stony bowlers. Anything that beat the ring fielders raced away for, and both new ball bowlers Josh Whitehead and Nic Bond found it very tough to create chances. The ball was beating the bat, often due to the quick nature of the pitch, but runs were never far round the corner. Stony had to wait until the hundred was up for their breakthrough. Neil Allen removed Ahmed for 56, bowling him. Allen then continued to both create pressure and take wickets, as he removed Saints' number 3 and 4 both for single figures. This spell was providing some much needed momentum for the twos.

Despite wickets falling at the other end, Elliot Patterson continued on his way, moving past 50 and looking good value for those runs. He continued to push on, accelerating the rate at which he scored, until he hit a full-toss off Asad Masroor straight to Nic Bond. He was dismissed for 87, but with his side in a very strong position. It was then damage limitation for the twos, as the rest of the Saints batsmen looked to swing from the hip. Stony's players were somewhat bemused though to find themselves still out there with the score in the upper 200s. Having not scored over 209 all season, surely Saints would rather declare and give themselves a chance to bowl Stony out.

As it was, they declared after 48 overs, with a mammoth 305-6 on the board. It was now over to Stony's batsmen to bat for 50 overs and see where they ended up. Newly promoted opening bat Oswin Peter was dismissed second ball, chopping on tot a delivery from Harry Bailey. In came Sai Ravikumar to join Simon Chapman, and the two played well for a time. On a very good pitch, Ravikumar and Chapman got value for their runs, until Chapman was caught behind off opening bowler Nassem Yaqub. That was possibly the point where the seconds thought their chances may be gone. It was now certainly a question of batting for time, rather than concentrating on a quick scoring rate. Masroor occupied the crease well, until he was then caught behind. Chris Swain came and went, and Stony had to dig deep.

Keeper Ben Mitchell then batted for some time, before chipping one straight up in the air. Ravikumar had looked very solid all this time, and was making batting look a lot easier than most other Stony players. When Alex Stockton was caught in the gully, it was up to he and Neil Allen to try and get Stony as close to the 52 over mark as possible. Allen made 10, before being judged LBW for 10. Débutante Nic Bond then walked in, and saw Ravikumar to his hundred. Despite edging three or four deliveries through or to the slips, Stony's number 3 had played exceptionally well. He couldn't afford to relax though, and perhaps his decision to run two off the last ball of the penultimate over might have proved costly.

As it was, Bond was bowled, leaving Stony 8 down. Whitehead then lasted 2 balls before beign bowled himself, leaving Saints needing 1 wicket from 2 balls to win. It was at this stage that 14 year old Matt Evans walked out to bat. In a league way beyond anything he had ever played before, the young man stood up and took it upon his shoulders to see off the last two balls. He'd only been called up 10 overs into the game, and was now about to decide its outcome. Facing the Saints opening bowler, Evans watched as the ball slipped down the legside, letting him scramble through for a bye. Ravikumar was then able to see off the last ball, securing a losing draw and an invaluable 8 points.

The seconds still sit bottom, and travel to Horton House next week. They need to start winning games soon, but if they do they have every chance of surviving.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Overstone Park 2nd XI

After a losing draw last time out, the thirds were looking to secure their seventh win of the season at home to Overstone.

With only 3 bowlers in the side, it was going to be difficult to take wickets. When skipper Michael Brown won the toss and chose to bat first, it became obvious that the thirds had to score lots of runs to win this one. The innings started well, with Varun Kale and Andy Miller playing well. Stony's first wicket fell when Kale departed for 30, bringing John Purchese to the crease. He then continued the good work, making 26 before he also departed. Unfortunately the thirds then continued to lose wickets at regular intervals, with people getting in but getting out too quickly. Ducks for Coxon and Lines exposed the tail, with no-one making a hugely significant contribution apart from Miller, who hit 63 at the top of the order. Michael Brown added 16 down at number ten to take the total to 207 all out.

Overstone would have one extra over to try and get themselves over the line, but Stony's lack of bowlers had to be a worry. Michael Brown and Deepak Ravikumar opened the bowling, and Brown had his first wicket before too long, removing Patel for 12. It was tough from there on in though, as Ben Hartley made 56 and Ryan Arnold 70. Overstone's number 4 was dismissed for 1, but then Neel Patel and Matthew Hawes provided the partnership of substance to all but secure the victory. The visitors required all but four balls to get home, but get home they did.

Perhaps bowling first might have given more chance for Stony to control the game, but the thirds almost had enough to win the game and were unlucky to lose it in the end. They sit fourth, and if they can keep getting a consistent team out they are still well in with a chance.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Barby 3rd XI

The fourth team need to make sure a fantastic season doesn't end in disappointment. They must continue to win games in order to secure the promotion they deserve.

Stony bowled first against Barby, and began the game well. Thomas Hoy removed opener Hardbattle for 4, while his opening partner was run out for 9. However, middle order partnerships then succeeded in getting the home side up to a competitive score. Craig Jolley took three wickets, ensuring that the Barby players didn't get huge scores, and just had to settle for starts. Laurence Kidd also took four wickets, wrapping up the innings very efficiently. Barby's 45 overs had given them 185 runs, and Stony would have to play well if they were to get there.

However, the innings never got going for the fourth team. Had it not been for Sumeet Nag's 57, it could have been a bit embarrassing. Other than Nag, only Graham Brandom reached double figures. That left Stony being bowled out for 107, plenty short of the target they'd been set.

The result sees Stony drop out of the top three, and they will have to improve next time out. Certainly though, the evidence of this season points to that happening. Provided they can rediscover the form they displayed three or four weeks ago, promotion is still absolutely on the cards.

Saturday 11th July 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Rushden Town 1st XI

Rushden visited Campbell Park on Saturday, with the firsts still languishing near the bottom of the table. While they do continue to pick up points, they have only one win to their names all season.

The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first, backing themselves to rack up the runs and bowl Stony out. However, Stony were the ones who got off to the better start, and what a start it was. Rushden lost 3 early wickets, and were at 7-3 when Luke Spears joined Christian Davies at the crease. Alex Strong had 1, and Kamran Anwa had 2.

Spears soon followed his top order team mates back into the shed, and the score was reduced to 11-4 with Strong claiming his second. At this stage, Stony were completely in control, and looking to get the remaining 6 wickets as soon as possible. It was, therefore, unfortunate that things went slightly quiet on the wickets front after that. Sam Kumar got his head down and looked solid, without being especially 'dynamic', while Simon Branston looked to counter attack.

The score reached 114, before Sam Kumar was dismissed in the forties. Branston continued to score at a high tempo, before Andrew Ellemore removed him for 82. With the game finely poised, Ellemore did a fantastic job in mopping up the rest of the order. He finished with outstanding figures of 6-29, as Rushden were bowled out for 184.

A chase certainly looked on, but as has been the case many a time this season, things didn't quite go to plan with the run chase. While the first partnership was solid, reaching 32, Stony continued to lose wickets throughout the innings. Nick Allen mad 48, with a few others making starts, but no-one was able to provide the innings of substance necessary to get the men from Ostlers Lane home.

Stony were bowled out for 153, with that elusive victory teasing them once more.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Rushden 2nd XI

After a massive win last time out, Stony visited Rushden looking to make it two out of two. Unfortunately, the seconds lost the toss. They were asked to bat first, and got off to quite a good start.

Simon Chapman looked solid against the new ball, with Sai Ravikumar also playing well. Having seen off most of the threat of the new ball, Ravikumar was bowled by Oliver Warwick for 18. This then led to a mini collapse, with Andy Ward and Asad Masroor then both being dismissed for 0. Prasana Chandran then came to the crease, and took a bit of a sting out of the Rushden bowlers. He moved into double figures and through the twenties, while Chapman at the other end rarely looked in danger.

Chandran was out for 28, and one wicket again brought two, as Chris Swain soon followed him back into the shed. All the time, Chapman had seen wickets tumble at the other end. Now, Jamie Baxter joined him and he made 25 before being run out. It was a shame that no-one was able to stay with Chapman for an extended period of time, as the opening batsman made 78 not out. He was left stranded as the rest of the Stony wickets tumbled, and the total was left at 183.

Stony would certainly have believed they could bowl the home side out, having set a tricky target. Captain Swain decided to open up with leg-spinner Jamie Baxter, who took an early wicket. Rushden lost Jupp to make the score 28-1. The home side were then able to form a partnership though, as the next wicket didn't fall until the score was 110. While this hadn't killed off any idea of a Stony victory, it was looking increasingly unlikely. Two wickets fell in quick succession though, to give Stony a sniff once again.

The score reached 140, and Swain decided he would give himself a bowl. He managed to get another breakthrough, and finished with 1-10 from two overs – something he hasn't failed to remind everyone about in the game's aftermath! Rushden got home, but Stony hadn't played badly. They do need to get more wins, quickly, but there is no reason they won't do exactly that.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Rothwell Town 2nd XI

After a good victory last time out, the thirds were looking to match their efforts against a decent Rothwell team. Stony won the toss and elected to bowl first, with every chance of restricting the home side to a smaller total.

Rothwell didn't lose any early wickets, but the run rate was very slow, not really getting above 3 an over. The openers looked to occupy the crease and did just that. The breakthrough came in the 19th over, as Alex Stockton had James Swingler caught at second slip. Stockton continued to bowl with Neil Fewtrell, the two of them keeping the rate very low. Chris Saint took over from Stockton, and maintained the pressure. He also succeeded in taking a couple of wickets, removing Ryan Spreadbury and William Short.

With the home side 3 down, Sam Tully came to the crease. From the word go, he looked to take on every bowler and managed to swing things in Rothwell's favour. The number 5 hit an expansive 60 not out, leaving the chase at 221. This pitch was flat though and the outfield was flat, with the chase well and truly on the cards.

When Stony came to bat, the openers made a solid start. Andy Preston and Varun Kale looked solid, before Kale fell to Phil Cross. Then Arvind Ramesh came in, and continued to bat well with Preston. While solid, the Stony batsmen never really looked up with the run rate. Ramesh made 41, but before Max Nagy could put his 40 runs to good use, the game was as good as gone.

The thirds finished the game 4 down but a number of runs short. They got a couple of bonus points, but considering how much in control of the game Stony were, it's a shame they couldn't get the win.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Isham Zingari

After a couple of really comprehensive wins, the fourth team sat top of the table. They looked to continue an excellent run of form against an opposition they had beaten just two weeks previous.

Stony batted first, after losing the toss. They got off to a reasonable start, as Ian West made 20 and Michael Wells 23. Despite losing opener Craig Jolley for just 4, they were going alright. Josh Hoy was then out for just 8, before Joe West made 24. This pattern continued, with the batsmen making starts and getting out. Jake Vickers did the same, as he fell for 22. Stony's innings finished 159 all out, leaving Isham some extra overs to get the runs.

Stony began their bowling effort perfectly. Wells and Hoy took two early wickets, and the opening bat was unfortunate enough to have to retire hurt. This was instantly looking like Stony's game for the taking, before Parmar and Waring came in. Those two broke the back of the run chase, making 48 and 77 respectively. The game was as good as gone when Jake Vickers had Parmar caught by Neil Jolley.

Isham won the game 4 down, condemning Stony's 4s to an unusual loss. They are still in the top three though, and will still be extremely confident of securing a comfortable promotion first time out.

Saturday 4th July 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Ruston 1st XI

The first team hosted Rushton on Saturday, with the inclusion of Wesley Fernando The Sri Lankan comes with a good deal of first-class experience, which is so often invaluable in the league's elite division.

It was Rushton who won the toss, and they decided to bat first. Stony certainly got off to the better start though. Alex Strong bowled well with the new ball, removing opener Daniel McGovern, before his opening partner, Kamran Anwar, removed Rushton's number two. Strong then dismissed Daniel Bendon for 9, and Adil Arif for a first ball duck, leaving the score 46-4. Rushton then amassed a bit of partnership, with Andrew Reynoldson looking solid as he moved into double figures. When Jake Bindley was dismissed though, leaving the score at 83-5, Stony were in a commanding position.

Marcus Steed came in at 7 however, and he and Reynoldson took the momentum away from Stony. Steed hit 50 before being run out, by which time Reynoldson had moved onto an unbeaten 59, with the score 170-6. Rushton's number 3 was finally dismissed by Steven Richardson for 80, after bringing up the 200 for his side. Stony then restricted the visitors to a further 20 runs from their allocated overs, setting them a perfectly 'get-able' target.

Stony didn't get off to the best of starts, losing Praveen Chandran with the score on 19. Mark Hulbert was then dismissed, leaving the scoreboard reading 50-2. At this point, Sohal had played well for 22, and new bow Fernando came to join him. The two then took the score past the hundred mark, and were playing very nicely indeed. It was therefore a disappointment when Sohal was dismissed for 67. He had played a fine innings, and left the field with the score on 137. To Stony's dismay, Fernando was soon to join him. He was bowled by Daniel Bendom for 45, as the total sat on 144-4. The game was in the balance, and once again it swung towards the opposition. A lower order collapse left Stony 7 down with 158 on the board, still some 62 runs short of their target. This was probably time to shut up shop and take the draw, which James Pickles ensured was possible as he hit an unbeaten 19 from 50 balls.

A losing draw for the firsts, but by no means a disgrace. Rushton are a strong side, and for a while Stony looked in the driving seat. If Sohal and Fernando can continue to score runs, the side definitely starts to look a lot stronger.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs St. Crispin and Ryelands 1st XI

Still searching for that elusive first win, the seconds travelled to St Crispin on Saturday. Having gone there last season and taken maximum points, the twos were hoping for similar success in order to kickstart this season.

Stony won the toss and elected to bowl first. They got off to a very good start too, as few runs were conceded by openers Whitehead and Wijesinghe, with Whitehead removing Billy Skelton for just 3. Henry Charter was then introduced into the attack by captain Chris Swain, and he dismissed Mark Richardson for 14 before removing the dangerous looking Tom Goodman for 29. If Stony were in a good position at this stage, it was only to get better. Neil Allen took out St Crispin's numbers 4, 5 and 6 all for single figures, as the twos were left in a very commanding position. Kyle Smith hit a counter-attacking 38 for the hosts, but when he was caught off the bowling of Ben Arnold, it was left for Whitehead and Wijesinghe to mop up the tail. Stony had bowled the hosts out for 163, leaving them an extra 8 overs to try and chase down the runs that they so desperately needed.

Stony's run chase, however, didn't get off to the best of starts. Chapmand fell for a duck, and Ravikumar for 7, as both openers fell to Crispin opener Matt Rowe. However, Andy Ward then came in and hit a vital 39 before being bowled by Harshad Patel. Despite Ward's efforts though, Wijesinghe and Chandran also fell short of a double figure score, leaving a lot of responsibility on skipper Swain's shoulders. That responsibility never looked to affect him though, as he hit a superb 79, guiding the seconds to their first win of the season. He was supported well by Henry Charter (15) and Neil Allen (13*), but this game was decided by the efforts of the captain.

Finally, a win for the seconds. This may just be the start of something here, as a fitting result has finally presented itself alongside a good all-round performance. Hopefully the next win won't be long in the waiting, and Stony can start to climb division two.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Irthlingborough Town 3rd XI

Following a convincing win last time out, the fourth team were looking to match last weekend's performance and move top of the league. Andy Miller returned to action after a wrist operation, which was certainly very pleasing to see.

Stony won the toss, and elected to bowl once again. The heat did nothing to stop Stony's youngsters from running in hard, as Irthlingborough were reduced to 2-2, thanks to the bowling of Thomas Hoy and a smart run-out from Deepak Ravikumar. The visitors then got a bit of partnership together, with their numbers 3 and 4 both moving into double figures. However, Michael Wells then removed Stuart Matthews for 13, before Vince Thomas was caught at slip off the bowling of Matthew Parkin for the same score. The game was finely poised, with Ryan Simpson going well on 35*. However, Alex Stockton was then introduced into the attack, and he ran through the middle and lower order of the visitors, claiming figures of 4-13. Deepak Ravikumar also chipped in with a wicket, before Parkin took his second of the game to leave the visitors 110 all out.

Stony made light work of last week's run-chase, but they wouldn't have wanted to lose opening bat, Michael Wells, first ball. He chipped the innings' first ball straight to mid-wicket. This brought Rob Arnold to the crease, after the skipper had played a vital hand in the win last time out. Any danger of a top order collapse was quickly dispelled though, as Arnold and Stockton guided the score to around the 80 mark. Stockton was eventually dismissed for 26, but this only brought Andy Miller to the crease. He hit 11 on the way to an inevitable victory, but once again it was skipper Arnold's effort that stood out, as he made 62 not out.

All in all, it was another great performance from the fourth team, as they moved to top of the table. A great bowling performance was backed up with a very solid run chase, and few would bet against Stony's fourth team going up in their first season of NCL cricket.

Saturday 27th June 2015

Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Brixworth 1st XI

The firsts hosted Brixworth this week, following a difficult trip to Oundle last time out. Both sides are near the wrong end of the table, making the game a particularly important one.

Brixworth opted for a brave tactic when they won the toss and batted first. At 56-4 the visitors  would undoubtedly have been slightly concerned. Opening bowler Kamran Anwar struck 3 times, removing the Brixworth top order, with Vicram Sohal dismissing Will Thomas at number 4. However, Stony couldn't capitalise on the early wickets they took, as Paul Blakemore and James Lucas then added 90 between them. 146-4 then quickly became 147-6, as Ashley Starmer fell to Alex Strong without scoring. 

The innings was finely poised at 147-6, but Peter Caunt helped swing things in Brixworth's favour. A brisk 49 was enough to get the visitors up to a respectable 228-9. Stony would have certainly fancied their chances of chasing down the required runs, after they batted so well at Oundle last week. However, the innings never really got going. 4 or 5 of Stony's players got starts, but Brixworth's bowlers ensured that they were no more than starts. Wickets fell at a consistent and damaging rate, Stony were all out for 166. Colin Sibley bowled especially well, taking 5-27 as the home batsmen had no real answer.

This defeat leaves Stony one off bottom, halfway through the season. Make no mistake about it, it's going to be a difficult second half of the season for the men from Ostlers Lane. They are in a relegation scrap, and need a few wins in order to get out of it. It already seems that the second game against Horton House might well be a cup-final type situation.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Brigstock 1st XI

The seconds travelled to Brigstock this week, still in search of that elusive first win. Having won the toss, the hosts elected to bat first.

Stony got off to a very good start, as Josh Whitehead removed Suk Singh for just 4. That breakthrough was not backed up however, as Brigstok's number 2 and 3 both passed 50, moving the score past 100. Ben Arnold finally removed the other opener for 69, but that only brought Lukas to the crease. Number 3, Croker hit 96 not out, while Lukas backed this up with 65 not out. Brigstock had hit 267-2 before they declared off 46 overs, giving Stony 6 extra overs to negotiate (exactly how Croker felt about being left stranded on 96 is another matter entirely).

Stony certainly set out to chase down the required runs, and they got off to a very good start. Openers Asad Masroor and Simon Chapman made 25 and 40 respectively, setting the visitors up for a potentially exciting innings. Unfortunately as soon as Masroor was out though, Andy Ward came and went. Stony were two down and suddenly up against it once more. By the time Chapman fell, Stony's middle order had it all to do. A mini-batting collapse then had Stony starring at another defeat right at the end of the game, but fortunately Ben Arnold and Josh Whitehead were able to survive until the end, securing the losing draw.

Similarly to the first eleven, the twos are undoubtedly in a relegation scrap. It will be tough for the rest of the season, but it only takes a couple of god result. That elusive win will surely come at some point, and when it does Stony have to capitalise.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Yelvertoft 3rd XI

The thirds have had a good season so far, but have struggled a little in recent weeks. A trip to Yelvertoft was never going to present an easy win for the threes, but they would have fancied their chances.

Stony were asked to bat first by the home side. Andy Preston and Nabeel Ahmad made steady starts, hitting 13 and 14 respectively. However, Walsh and Nagy were dismissed for 0 and 6, leaving Stony 4 down after the openers joined them in the shed. Joel Coxon then came in and played an effective counter-attacking innings, striking 33 and restoring some respectability to the scorecard. Richard Lines and Steve Osborne then added 15 each, before Michael Brown hit a brisk 27. Stony had failed to bat out their overs, falling for 144 after just 33.4 overs.

It was then down to the bowlers to try and turn a below par score into a winning one. The opening bowlers bowled well but for little result, until Michael Brown removed Martin Lewis. Brown then struck again, removing James Martin for 2. Stony's chances were now looking somewhat increased. However, Callum Bentley then hit a match-winning 50, before Yelvertoft got home 6 down. Stony's bowlers had performed well, but in truth we never had enough runs on the board.

The threes need to be careful here. If they can start winning again, then they can certainly push for promotion. However, if they fail to secure positive results then it could be a mediocre, mid-table finish.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Isham Zingari

After being frustrated by the weather last weekend, Stony were hoping that a home tie against Isham Zingari would not dampen their spirits. Rob Arnold took charge as stand in captain for the match, as the men from Ostlers Lane fielded a typically young side once again.

Stony won the toss and elected to bowl, but Isham got off to a steady start. Although Chris Saint and Oscar Price beat the bat on plenty of occasions, the first wicket proved difficult to take. It did come though, as Nathan Rosshart hit Chris Saint straight to Jake Vickers at cover, departing for 27. After that initial breakthrough the visitors failed to construct a partnership, with wickets falling at regular intervals. Thomas Hoy bowled particularly well, taking the last 3 wickets and wrapping up the innings without many runs being conceded. Although Martyn Hicks hit 49, only three Isham players reached double figures, as they were bowled out for 123.

Stony then had to bat until 16:00 before they would be able to enjoy a well-earned tea. Openers Laurence Kidd and Alex Stockton negotiated the mini-session well, ensuring that no wickets were lost before tea. After the break, Stony needed roughly 110 from 45 overs.

The openers continued to occupy the crease, until Stockton was bowled leaving a straight one, and Kidd was then dismissed caught and bowled. This brought together Rob Arnold and Craig Coxon, who effectively saw Stony home. Arnold hit a convincing 37, while Coxon played some typically expansive shots on his way to 38. It was all over bar the shouting when Coxon was out stumped with one run left to get, bringing young Joe West to the crease. A couple of dot balls followed, but West soon found the single that took Stony to a very convincing victory.

The win takes Stony to 2nd in the table, reflecting a very strong start to NCL life.


Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Oundle 1st XI

Stony travelled to Oundle on Saturday, seeking just their second win of the season. The home side won the toss and, boasting one of the most feared opening bowlers in the league in Petrus Jeftha, would have fancied their chances at rolling over their opposition. Oundle struck relatively early, Jeftha removing James Pickles for 7, but struggled to make inroads after that. Praveen Chandran and Sai Ravikumar then put on 45 second wicket runs for Stony, while the former moved towards a good score of 69.

Stony were eventually bowled out for 231, thanks to excellent lower order contributions from Prasana Chandran (50) and Kamran Anwar (30). Despite worries that Stony might struggle to post a competitive score, the visitors had played really well on their way to a more than respectable total. 231 is one of Stony's highest scores of the league season so far, and they would certainly have fancied their chances at defending it.

The men from Ostler's lane went out seeking early wickets, in order to gain a bit of momentum on the way to taking all 10. However, those breakthroughs failed to materialise as Ben Groom and Pete Foster put on 57 for the first wicket. When the breakthrough did come though, it took both Groom and his successor it. Oundle sat at 58-2, in need of a bit more rebuilding. Unfortunately for Stony, the third wicket partnership was a solid one, which took the score to 140 before Foster was eventually dismissed for 42. A couple more wickets at that stage would have made it interesting, but Oundle knocked off the remaining 84 runs without another casualty, as Alex Martin hit a fantastic 100* off as many balls.

This result leaves Stony three off bottom, and with just one win. While that's a modest return to say the least, the firsts have managed to pick up points along the way, managing to hold on for several losing draws. Certainly, we'll need some better results than this before the end of the season, but right now we seem to be going along just fine.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Irthlingborough Town 1st XI

After an improved run of performances, Stony seconds hosted Irthlingborough this weekend. While performances have been encouraging in recent week, that elusive win still hasn't presented itself for Chris Swain's men. The games have certainly been entertaining though, and this match was no different.

Stony batted first after losing the toss, but never managed to put together any significant partnerships. Openers Coxon and Chapman managed 19 and 26 respectively, with Masroor hitting 18. These sorts of starts have been typical of the 2nd XI's batsmen this season, with substantial scores proving difficult to come by. Irthlingborough took the ten wickets before 41 overs, restricting Stony to 129.

Once again then, not a particularly impressive score for Stony. However, they went about their business with the ball very well. At 77-1, Irthlingborough may have looked over the hill and far away, but that soon became 84-3, and then 120-7. The lower middle order had collapsed. Giving Stony much more than a sniff. Taking 9-3 was not out of the question at all, with the momentum sitting firmly with the home side. Unfortunately, the miraculous turnaround was not to be completed, as Irthlingborough knocked off ten more runs to sentence the twos to another defeat.

For the last couple of weeks, it's been clear that the seconds have been performing much better. As long as that continues they will begin to pick up results, of that there is no doubt. As soon as the first win comes along, it could well set the ball rolling and pave the way for a brighter second half of the season.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Badby 1st XI

Stony chased their 6th victory of the season as they hosted table-toppers Badby on Saturday. Results have slipped slightly recently, but they began the day in fourth spot, which represents a more than respectable start to the campaign.

Stony were put into bat by Badby, and got off to a good start. Despite losing number 3 Mahesh Sethuraman for a first-ball duck, Max Nagy and Andy Preston looked like setting up a very competitive target. Preston hit a solid 49 before being ruled lbw to Martin Wilcox, while Max Nagy impressed with 63 very entertaining runs. He dispatched the short ball very well and played with a lot of confidence. The wickets of Preston and Nagy triggered a mini-collapse that saw Nag and Coxon back in the shed for another 4 run, before Steve Osborne restored some momentum with 38. The thirds finished 223-8, which would take some getting by the visitors.

Unfortunately though, wickets proved hard to come by. Opening bowlers Fewtrell and Saint failed to make a breakthrough, leaving it to skipper Osborne to dismiss Andy Humphries for 26. That wicket did not trigger a significant collapse though, as the Badby number 3 added another 22, before the wicket keeper made 50. The telling contribution though came from Stuart Bonthuys, who struck 82 to guide his team to a 5 wicket win. Badby chased the runs in 32 overs, which reflects the ability of the visiting batsmen more than the efforts of the Stony bowlers.  

That result leaves Stony thirds 4th in the table, two places off the promotion spots. If they can sit in around 3rd or 4th spot for the next month or so, a late season push is truly on the cards. Last season they fell just short, but there has been nothing to suggest that they won't make up for that this time round.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Grange Park 1st XI

Stony's 4th XI performances this season have been particularly refreshing. In a season that's been difficult so far for the top two sides, the fours have seen some outstanding performances from the younger members of the club.

It is then especially disappointing that Saturday's match had to be abandoned. Stony reached 154-4 from 30 overs before the game was called off. Craig Jolley played well for 42 at the top of the order, before his Dad, Neil, added 29. Deepak Ravikumar was then dismissed for 42, before the game barely had a chance to get going again.

Stony's 4th team sit 3rd in the table. That's the third promotion spot, and, if they can remain there, would represent an excellent start to the 4s' NCL league life.


Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Kettering 1st XI

In a rain affected match, Kettering almost got more than they bargained for by declaring after just 30 overs. The hosts made 181, and didn't feel Stony would come close to reaching their total in their allocated time.

While Stony have struggled early on this season, thus certainly giving Kettering reason enough to believe they might be able to force a win, last week saw the seconds get themselves an invaluable losing draw against Overstone. That match, similarly to this one, saw Stony bat with a genuine chance of chasing down the runs. Unfortunately, it was not to be this time either, and we were forced to settle for the draw. However, up until the last few overs the hosts would certainly have been slightly concerned, as Stony approached the chase with a positive mindset, and it almost paid off.

Ultimately, the teams shook hands as Stony sat on 153 for 8 after 38 overs. No win has yet to be recorded for the seconds this season, but they are now unbeaten in two. Results have taken a turn for the better, and while the wins need to start coming, more positive results are undoubtedly not too far away.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Barby 3rd XI

Following a disappointing result against the same opposition last week (the league has thrown up back-to back results against the same teams), Stony were keen to get back to winning ways this time out. In line with that ambition, the game couldn't really have started better. Stony reduced the away side to 15-3, thanks to some excellent opening bowling from Michael Brown and Matthew Parkin.

Unfortunately however, the innings wasn't allowed to progress any further. The skies opened and not another ball was bowled. Rain was not necessarily heavy, but was certainly persistent. If Stony and Barby had managed to take to the field again, there is no knowing what the outcome might have been. What is for sure though, is that Stony made a very good start!


Stony Stratford 1st XI vs Geddington 1st XI

Saturday's match against Geddington presented a good opportunity for the firsts to pick up their second win of the season. Unfortunately though, things didn't quite work out. Having won the toss, Stony chose to field first, hoping to take early wickets and restrict the home side. An early wicket did come, with Steve Richardson bowling Mark Neale to make the score 0-1. A partnership of 102 for the second wicket, however, was enough to make things difficult from there on in.

Geddington reached 102-1 and then 213-2 on their way to 257-5, before they declared after 51 overs. The home side's top order had delivered, with two of them getting into the 70s and the other passing 50.

Then came Stony's chance to bat, with an extra 4 overs to get the runs. The chase did not start particularly well though, with Praveen Chandran falling to Jamie Kay for just 2. Then wickets fell at regular intervals, as 12-1 became 45-2, 77-3, and then 102-6. From there on in it looked a long way to victory, and Geddington's bowlers continued their good form. Tiann Raubenheimer claimed a 5-for, as Stony were bowled out inside 45 overs for 166.

Another loss for the firsts has them looking over their shoulders somewhat, with some more favourable results much needed. While not a million miles away from the form that is required, a win would be more than welcome.

Stony Stratford 2nd XI vs Overstone Park 1st XI

The seconds played really well on Saturday. They ended up drawing with a strong Overstone side, and could well have won.

Overstone batted first on a typically good Campbell park wicket. While the home side's bowlers battled very well, Vikesh Patel's outstanding 121 set the game up for the visitors. The vast majority of the bowling came from Michael Brown, Josh Whitehead and Neil Allen, all of whom got themselves on the scoresheet. Similarly to last week though, Stony's opponents declared early, giving themselves some extra overs to try and force the win.

In contrast to last time out, Stony did not get bowled out. They lost just four wickets, as Simon Chapman hit a superb 103 not out. Asad Masroor also hit 53 before being run out, as Stony finished 209-4 after 52 overs. It could quite easily have been the first win of the seconds' season, and should stand them in good stead to push forward now. Next, it's on to Kettering, with Stony's batsmen full of confidence and looking to go one better.

Stony Stratford 3rd XI vs Finedon Dolben 3rd XI

After losing the toss and being put in to bat, Stony failed to post a winning first innings score. 145 was never going to be easy to defend at Ostler's lane, where although the pitch is sometimes slow, it rarely offers too many demons. While Stony's fifty overs were played out, the innings never got going thanks to some excellent bowling from Finedon.

While 145 is not the worst score imaginable, and is certainly 'something to bowl at', Finedon knocked the runs off after just 32 overs, having only lost two wickets. Stony were well and truly beaten, and never managed to match the effort of Finedon's bowlers.

The loss is Stony's second in two games, which has halted their excellent start somewhat. Both defeats have come at the hands of good sides though, with there being no shame in coming second to either. If, however, the thirds are to continue chasing the promotion they missed out on last year, they will have to turn this mini-slump around quickly. Although some players have moved up to the seconds over the last two games, a number of players are heading back from university soon. This will certainly improve availability, and should allow a wider range of senior players for the Saturday sides to select from. Availability all through the club affects all four teams, and therefore it is essential that we make the most of the increased availability the next few weeks should hopefully provide.

Stony Stratford 4th XI vs Barby 3rd XI

Unfortunately, the fours came up short this week. After a brilliant display last time out against Grange Park, the batsmen this week couldn't perform to the levels of previous weeks.

The day started well enough, as Barby elected to bat but were restricted to 191 for 7. Jake Vickers and Jeff Stopford took two wickets each, as they bowled 11 overs for fewer than five runs an over. Thomas Hoy also impressed, taking one wicket for just twenty eight runs from his twelve overs. All in all, a solid bowling display saw Stony set themselves up for an exciting run chase in the second innings.

On previous form, one might have expected Stony to chase such a total down. However, the pitch was not an easy one to get in on, and the home side's bowlers did their jobs very well. Only Joe West, Neil Jolley and Alex Gomersall made it to double figures, as the fours were bowled out for just 83, inside 38 overs. It had turned into a difficult day as soon as the Barby lower order began to steal a few too many runs. So it continued, as Stony lost three early wickets before coming up a clear second.

Overall, it wasn't a great week for Stony. Three losses and one draw represent a poor return, but hopefully it can be put right next time round.


Stony 1st XI vs Finedon 1st XI

This was another game against one of the top five. That top five has a habit of creating its own league for the title year in, year out. No other teams tend to compete, and, as a general rule, the teams of this 'higher premier division' do away with those in the lower half. So it was once more on Saturday, as Stony struggled to get into the game against a typically strong Finedon side.

Having batted first, Finedon posted 226 from 55 overs, and bowled Stony out for 131. A seemingly comfortable victory then, but the home side did not go down without a fight. The opening bowlers, Alex Strong and Kamran Anwar, did a good job throughout. They both bowled 17 overs, with Strong picking up a wicket and Anwar picking up 3 for 71. Ben Arnold also impressed with the ball, with his 1 for 32 from 9 overs representing an excellent showing for a young player.

226 was not too many runs. At Campbell park, where the ball races away and the pitch offers few demons, the chase was well and truly on for a time. That chase, however, was looking somewhat unlikely as Stony slumped to 52-4. Finedon were bowling typically tight lines and, as always, hitting their lengths. However, from the early slump it looked for a time as though Stony might be able to hang in there and salvage a draw. It took the likes of Will Sneath and Shane Devoy over 50 overs to complete the victory.

In the end, another defeat for Stony firsts, but it was in no way a disastrous outing. With an encouraging bowling display, if we can bat well next week then we should be in a good position to pick up the second win of the season.

Stony 2nd XI vs Rothwell Town 1st XI

The seconds have lost all five games of the season thus far. It was, therefore, always going to be difficult to get the first win against a team who were playing division 1 cricket last year. On a flat track, Rothwell amassed a good first innings score of 252 before declaring, giving them 2 extra overs to bowl Stony out. As it turned out, these extras weren't needed: Stony were rolled over for 100 after 28.2.

The bowling performance was categorised by inconsistency. Too many four-balls were dished up on what was a flat batting wicket. Josh Whitehead bowled well, picking up 3 for 25, but most other bowlers were guilty of straying from the plan a little. Rothwell's number 3, James Chambers, hit an impressive 73 before succumbing to a low bouncing short ball from Alex Stockton.

With this said, the pitch was flat, and the outfield was quick. A chase was not completely out of the question, and playing out 50 overs should not have proved to be too difficult. A bit of poor selection was, however, enough to see the Second team lose their sixth game of the season. Men were picked out as soon as Stony tried to counter attack, and it wasn't long before the game was wrapped up.

There is not much to suggest a change in fortunes is out of the question though. If a bit of consistency and application can be put into practice then the 2s should be racing up the table in no time.

Stony 3rd XI vs Kislinbury 1st XI

Stony's third XI hadn't lost a game this season. Therefore, it came as a bit of surprise when Kislingbury recorded a comprehensive, 135 run victory.

Stony bowled well enough, taking all ten wickets for 198 Kislingbury runs. Normally it's a flat pitch over there, but also a dry one. They toiled well, with Chris Saint picking up 3 wickets for not many more than 20 runs off his fifteen overs. The rest of the bowlers were perhaps slightly inconsistent, with not a lot of margin for error on unfamiliar turf.

Having already eluded to the dry nature of the wicket, it was slightly difficult to bat on second. This is exactly what Stony had to do. The two opening bowlers, one left armer and one right, swung it in different directions as they took eight wickets between them. They bowled it in good areas and had enough about them to whistle one past the batsmen's noses. Any Preston scored 23 and Steve Osborne 27, playing well for their respective runs. This does however mean that that 6 wickets fell for just 13 runs, which doesn't point to a great day at the office.

A bad day all round for the threes then, all things considered. Hopefully though, it'll be back to winning ways next time out.

Stony 4th XI vs Grange Park 1st XI

The fourth team won again. Again, the younger members of the team bowled very well, with almost half of the side made up of under 13s. Having been 80-1 and 111-2, Grange Park were bowled out for 153 inside 42 overs. Michael Wells picked up 2 for 32, Jake Vickers 2 for 40, Thomas Hoy 2 for 22 and Joe West 2 for 12. The wickets were shared out among the club's younger members, which is very encouraging.

When it came to batting, it fell to an old hand to guide the fours to another victory, as Rob Arnold scored 75. That said, Torin Little batted very well for his 19 and Joe West saw the hosts home with 15 not out.

Overall, it wasn't the best day for the club, with three losses and just the one victory. That victory was done in some style though, with the club's younger members stepping up to the plate. Hopefully some more favourable results all round can be achieved next weekend!


 [By Alex Stockton]

With four games now played by the four SSCC Saturday sides, we take a look at each team's early season form, as well as how their respective seasons might shape up. While the firsts and seconds have found it relatively tough, the thirds and fourths have started very well, and shown a lot of promise.

The First Team

The NCL Premier division is not an easy league to pick up points in. It's an amateur league, but one in which professional and semi-professional players play on a regular basis. Teams like Finedon and Peterborough are always going to be up and around the top end of the table, with the rest battling it out to try and finish as high-up as they can. In terms of Stony's start, it's been a steady one. A few times the 1s have been rolled over by strong bowling attacks, but they've already picked up a crucial win against Horton House. If they can continue to bowl well and start producing some more consistent batting displays, they should be looking at the teams above them more than the ones over their shoulder.

The Seconds

It's been a tricky start, there's no denying that. Runs have been hard to come by and the early performances have lacked a little bit of quality. Undoubtedly though, things will get better for the seconds. Traditionally, they've boasted a strong bowling line up and this year is no different – the issue has been backing up good bowling performances with runs and vice versa. For example, the game away at Saints saw a competitive 177 posted first innings, but the bowlers were unable to produce the goods. On the other side of the coin, the game at home against Horton saw Stony bowled out for just 90, but take four second innings wickets on the way to an inevitable defeat. However, provided good bowling performances can be matched up with good batting ones, there should be no worry regarding toil at the foot of the table. Last year was very successful, and built a strong platform to kick on from. While promotion would be difficult to attain, another season at the healthier end of the table could lead to greater things in the not-too-distant future.

The Third Team

The thirds have started the season brilliantly. They are unbeaten and look very strong. This could be a very exciting season, following last day disappointment last year. With runs in the top order and a very exciting bowling attack, if the thirds can keep a consistent team together for much of the season then they should be aiming to top the table. It's far too early at this stage to try and guess exactly what will happen over the course of a whole summer. However, the way the season's started, few would bet against a top two finish this time round. Provided availability is strong, it could be a very exciting season once again for Stony's third XI.

The Fourth Team

Having moved into the NCL league this season, the fourth team has transformed into a 'colts' side: one that brings through the younger talents at the club (of which there are a large number)! There is nothing to suggest that the fourth XI can't get promotion this year. The quality of the young players coming through is such that successive promotions wouldn't surprise anyone at the club. That, however, is not the aim of the fourth team. If U14 and 15s can get regular Saturday cricket, they will learn quickly, and develop faster into better players. Certainly, any club should strive to develop the abilities of its younger players, and that is exactly what Stony have always been very good at. The more experience these youngsters can get at a younger age, the faster they will develop into first team players of the future. There are, as well, a couple of experienced players in the side who will be absolutely essential to the fourth XI's success. Undoubtedly, these senior players will do very well in aiding the younger ones, and regardless of where the side finishes, the season should be very successful.