With the season now in full swing for all three of our senior sides, here is a catch up of the season so far. We will hopefully bring you weekly updates on how the teams get on.
After a comprehensive friendly win against Redditch I (Mike Brown 3-13, Dan Protherough 42*), Stratford’s 1st XI started the new season in disappointing fashion in a rain-affected match. Batting first against Hawkins C&R, their total of 116-9 from 35 overs was below par. Rob West and Alex Marney each scored 22 but no other player reached 20 runs. In mitigation, conditions were tough with a rain delay and a slow outfield that saw boundaries hard to come by.
Hawkins were set an adjusted target of 101 off 27 overs. Although Tom Grundy bowled tightly to return figures of 1-12 off 6 overs after an injury-affected winter, Hawkins found runs at the other end as the bowlers frequently dropped too short. The total was reached inside 22 overs, with #3 Fayaz top-scoring with 39.
But Stratford bounced back this past Saturday with a good all round victory versus Streetly. After being put into bat, Streetly never came to terms with the early seam movement and were soon struggling at 48-5, Grundy taking 4 of those wickets to fall. As the pitch dried, some more application saw Streetly pick up the scoring rate before being bowled out in the final over for 241.
Stratford reply started badly and at 12-2 the winning total seemed a long way off, however overseas Abel Mokhuane showed his class by striking his third ball for a huge 6 then never looked back as he raced to 82. Mokhuane was ably assisted by Purser (45) and after both batsmen fell with the score on 162 and the game still in the balance, Whelan and new signing Aidy Witts batted sensibly by picking up the singles on offer before Whelan accelerated in the batting power play to go to a maiden 50 for the club. Stratford completed a 5 wicket victory in the 42nd over when Witts pulled a short ball to the boundary and finish 20 not.
A depleted 2nd XI warmed up for the new season with a high scoring defeat at Redditch. After Noble and Harcourt made centuries, Redditch responded with two centurions of their own to reach the target of 284 with a few balls to spare. But once the competitive games started, Stratford opened the season with two successful run chases.
Against Old Elizabethans, the wickets were shared in a strong bowling performance; Pratley took 3-18 whilst Lythall and Hughes took 2-a-piece. The total of 157 was well below par, and only one Old Elizabethan batsman passed 20.
Stratford reached that target in less than half the allocated overs, with David Black top-scoring with an unbeaten 46. Although Noble followed up his century at Redditch with a first-ball duck, Gareth Langman joined Black and made a brisk 30* to power Stratford to their target.
Stratford then hosted Ombersley in their first match of the season at Swans Nest Lane. Left-armer Sam ‘Boris’ Douthwaite recorded a 5-wicket haul, destroying Ombersley’s middle order. No 8 Meacham was the only batsman to pass 20, finishing on 36*, and a frustrating last wicket stand of 45 left Stratford a target of 147.
Like the previous week, this was a comfortable target for the 2nds. Along with good contributions from Langman (22) and Pigott (31), Stratford were led by wicket-keeper James Harcourt who scored 58 – he was caught with the scores tied but the one run for victory was soon found after 31 overs.
Bards (3rd XI)
Stratford 3rds had a morale boosting win in their first league game of the season, after their troubles in recent years. Having won the toss, they inserted Elmley Castle 2nds and soon had the away side in trouble. A fifth wicket partnership orchestrated by Elmley’s captain, A Charlton who scored 52, helped the away side score 144-7 after their 45 overs. John Paton lead the attack with 3-13 and there were 2 two wickets apiece for newcomers Shabaz and Nick Harding. Their chase began well, adding 27 for the first wicket, and then Pete Richards (64no)and Steve Cootes (45no) scored freely to take them to a 9 wicket victory in the 25th over.