Stratford 1st XI moved back into a promotion spot in the Birmingham League third division after narrowly beating Quatt CC by two wickets at Swans Nest Lane on Saturday, writes Leigh Tranter.

The Panthers won the toss and elected to field first. Quatt responded and started well, but wickets fell at regular intervals, resulting in the away side being all out for 149 runs after 41 overs. However Stratford made hard work of the seemingly achievable target of 150 runs to win.

Quatt batsman Ian Gregory scored freely, hitting the boundary four times for a four and contributed 18 of the 21 impressive runs in just two overs. However the tables turned after losing a quick succession of wickets, leaving the Shropshire side 33-3 after a spell of impressive bowling from Tom Grundy. The seam bowler dismissed Elliot Parker, who was caught behind by wicket keeper James Harcourt, for just two runs. Grundy then trapped both Nathan Hakeman and Gregory for lbw, sending Hakeman for a duck and Gregory for 27.

The wickets then fell at a steady pace in the 28th over leaving the away side 102-8. The successful bowlers were Christopher Whelan who teased Harry Geyton into a catch from Dexter Purser at square leg. Grundy’s impressive bowling continued taking another three wickets, bowling out Craig Jones (5) and Alex Biddle (10). Before dismissing Ben Vale (7) after being caught at mid-off by Ben Pigott. The 8th wicket was a result of Elliot Hobbs being caught behind from Harcourt from a ball from spinner James Urquhart.

Rain temporarily stopped play in the 30th over with the score on 118-8. The penultimate wicket fell from the first ball after play resumed. The away side’s highest scoring batsman, Hayden Cargo (32) was also caught behind after a delivery by Mike Brown (118-9). Quatt then increased the run rate scoring a further 31 runs before being all out for 149. Gareth Jones was bowled by Whelan for 20. Leaving last man standing Scott Knowles 12 not out.

After an extended lunch due to rain Stratford started brightly until they lost their three opening batman for a score of 109-3. Captain Whelan was caught for 32 by Hakeman after from a ball from Cargo (51-1). Before Rob West, who was the highest scoring batsman was dismissed for 36 after being stumped by Hakeman. The third wicket fell as a result of Dan Protherough being bowled and caught by Craig Jones for 24 runs.

The home side then found runs hard to come by, by losing a further three wickets (Purser, Adam Witts and Pigott) for just 19. Stratford lost their 7th and 8th wicket (Grundy and Urquhart) in the 40th over still needing 9 runs to win and leaving bowler Gregory on for a hat-rick. After a tense two overs of careful batting, Harcourt (18) hit a four in the 42nd over to give Stratford a score of 152-8 and a home win.

Stratford looked to continue their winning ways away against Astwood Bank CC the following Monday, however the match was abandoned due to rain.

Scorecard – 1st XI beat Quatt by 2 wickets

Review by Leigh Tranter