Here is an update on the progress of our senior teams during June, plus a quick summary of the Summer Solstice game.

First XI

June for the 1st XI started with an abandonment away to Quatt, however two wins and a winning draw from their next three games continued their impressive form.

At home to Astwood Bank, Stratford were inserted into bat and were left struggling thanks to three wickets from Summers and some sluggish batting. They were rescued by half-century from Dex Perser and 40 from Ben Pigott, taking them to 175 off their 55 overs. Any concerns over the total were short-lived as Tom Grundy took 4 top order wickets. Some lower-order cameos took Astwood to within 30 of the target, however Mike Brown hit the stumps twice to add to an earlier wicket, to complete a 27-run win.

The following week, Stratford chose to bowl against Milford Hall. Both openers were trapped in front by Grundy, whilst Brown picked up Walker for a duck. A half-century stand took Milford to 100-3 but they then lost 6 wickets for the addition of just 15 runs. Three of those wickets fell to new signing Nathaniel Gregory, a new signing making his first appearance. A last wicket partnership took Milford to 162 and gave them hope of a defendable score – a stand broken by James Urquhart who joined Gregory in taking three wickets. Stratford’s reply was given a swift start by Rob West, who scored 30 off 44 balls, before Abel Mokhuane scored a half-century. After he departed for 59 from 63 balls, Pigott and Whelan took Stratford home for a 5 wicket win.

On a wet Saturday 28th, the 1sts were the only team to complete a game. The threat of rain makes it difficult to pace an innings, however Stratford were pleased at the tea break to have scored 222 from 50 overs. Mokhuane impressed again with 93 runs at better than a run-a-ball. Although no other batsman passed 25, there were enough contributions to post a tough target. Gregory took the new ball with Grundy and this change to previous games immediately paid dividends as Fordhouse fell to 3-3. Their innings were stabilised by #4 Steven Sandhu who made 57 not out, and he was supported by the middle order as Fordhouse were able to bat the overs out, finishing on 172-7. Stratford were disappointed to have not secured the win, but their ‘winning draw’ did mean they took home more of the points.

But with the weather playing havoc elsewhere in the division, this was more than their promotion rivals were able to muster – as a result, Stratford are now top of Division 3 in the Birmingham & District Premier League, 10 games into the season.

Scorecard – 1st XI beat Astwood Bank by 27 runs
Scorecard – 1st XI beat Milford Hall by 5 wickets
Scorecard – 1st XI drew with Fordhouse (winning draw)

Second XI

June was a frustrating month for Richard Syke’s team – although they were unbeaten, two games were abandoned and in the two completed games, they were unable to bowl out their opponents and had to settle for winning draws.

In the first, a strong performance from their batting unit saw them reach 276-7 from their 50 overs. Captain Sykes top-scored with 79, whilst fellow opener Marney made 33. All-rounder Sam Douthwaite contributed 42 whilst some late runs from Nick Jones (25) and Iain Lythall (36*) took Stratford to their total. The total was easily defendable – opponents Astwood Bank finished in excess of 100 short – but the 8 wickets Stratford took weren’t quite enough to force the victory. There were three wickets for opening bowler Harry Jolly, whilst leg-spinner Ant Pratley took 4-46 as he took out the middle order.

They travelled to bottom club Barnards Green the next week. Choosing to bat first, they made the hosts toil on a hot day and made frequent use of a ridiculously short boundary. Opener Sykes was out early, his thick edge impressively taken by a diving second slip. Dan Protherough joined Alex Marney and together they put on 257 for the second wicket, taking advantage of numerous full-tosses and short balls which only needed helping over the short boundary. Protherough was first to his century – his impressive 120 came off just 98 balls and featured 6 maximums. Marney was more restrained but hit several straight sixes after reaching his well earned century and finished unbeaten on 167 off 140 balls.

Sykes declared early on 349-3, which gave them an additional 4 overs to get the full 10 wickets. However, like the week before, they took 8 to finish agonisingly short. Sam Douthwaite took 3 wickets whilst Pratley took 4 wickets for a second consecutive week – his haul contained two sharp return catches. Barnards Green’s lower order resisted and Stratford had to make do with a winning draw.

Scorecard – 2nd XI drew with Astwood Bank (winning draw)
Scorecard – 2nd XI drew with Barnards Green (winning draw)

Bards (Third XI)

For the second time this season, the Bards lost by the narrowest of margins. Broadway’s top order each contributed useful scores on the way to 186-7. Thadius Kaminski-Gaze took three middle-order wickets whilst three wickets in the closing overs for Dave Clifford, including two stumpings by ‘keeper Rathkey, kept Broadway from reaching 200. After a swift start from Martin Malone, who chopped on for 20, the chase was underpinned by Steve Cootes who top scored with 58. But James Hands’ useful inswingers dented Stratford’s hopes and without Cootes to guide them home, the lower order couldn’t quite do enough – finishing on 181-8.

Scorecard – 3rd XI lost to Broadway II by 5 runs

Summer Solstice Game
On Tuesday 17th June, Swans Nest Lane played host to an inter-club Twenty20 game to mark the longest day of the year. ‘Team Brown’ started their innings at 5:30am, fuelled by bacon sandwiches and coffee courtesy of Jess May, and posted 178-8, which included several retirements as players were required to walk off after reaching 30.

The evening innings unsuprisingly had more spectators, but ‘Team Grundy’ were not able to trouble the total. A comical run out and regular wickets exposed their lower order and they stumbled to 123-9. ‘Team Brown’ won by 59 runs.

No scorecard is currently available, but you can view a team photo on Facebook.