ASTWOOD Bank were beaten by three wickets in their Worcestershire League Premier Division opener at Worcester on Saturday – but the result does not tell even half the story of what proved to be a thrilling affair.
Bank looked set for a truly dismal outcome when they were reduced to 51-9 after deciding to bat on a tricky soft wicket at the Gordon Jones Memorial Ground, but recovered to post 126 all out before moving into a winning position when reducing the hosts to 66-7 in their reply.
However, Worcester showed plenty of fight of their own as an unbeaten stand of 63 for the eighth wicket got them over the line for 24 points.
After the sides had paid tribute to Astwood Bank’s long-serving chairman John Alexander who passed away suddenly in February, the match got under way and eight Bank players mustered just 16 runs between them.
However, Dan Taylor (22) and Dan Thomas (36no) made a gutsy 75 for the last wicket to steer the visitors to 126 all out inside 37 overs. Worcester’s Luke Deeprose took 6-49 off 15 overs.
Bank had made a disastrous start as they lost opener Rob West to the second ball of the match and they continued to struggle in the conditions against the strong opening bowling partnership of Deeprose and Clark Knapton.
The only batting resistance at the top of the order came from Tom Pedley who grafted for a solid 21 before the incredible stand between Taylor and Thomas.
Worcester’s reply began steadily but the patient Bank bowlers finally started getting their rewards once Taylor (2-38) made the breakthrough by removing Muhammad Raja.
Jake Price, Dan Thomas (2-29) and Tom Harris then combined to remove the Worcester middle order to put Bank very much on top and strong favourites to earn victory.
However, at 66-7, Zain Hussain joined Knapton at the crease. The Bank bowlers continued to be very threatening and several half chances came and went but eventually an impressive partnership between Knapton (34no) and Hussain (32no) saw the hosts home in 52 gruelling overs.
Astwood Bank will look to bounce back on home soil against Pershore on Saturday (1pm).