The 2014 season came to a close yesterday with mixed emotions for Stratford’s top two sides. At the start of the day, both the 1st and 2nd teams occupied promotion spots; however whilst the 2nds pulled off a last-over win to finish as Division 2 South champions, defeat for the 1sts saw them cruelly miss out.
Away at Newport, the Stratford 1st XI won the toss and opted to bowl. It was their bowling that had taken them to the brink of promotion; however on this occasion no early wickets came. A 76-run opening partnership set the tone, although only #5 Mark Downes passed fifty. Contributions throughout the batting order, plus over 30 extras, enabled Newport to set a target of 248. Nathaniel Gregory took four wickets for 44.
After the early loss of Chris Whelan, Stratford made a swift start along thanks to Rob West, whose 52 off just 40 balls included 9 fours and a six. However once he departed, wickets fell at regular intervals. Gregory followed his 4 wickets with 41, but Straford fell to 173-9. #11 Mike Brown swung the bat at the end for 20, but Stratford’s last innings of the season ended at 198 all out, 49 runs shy of their target.
At Swans Nest Lane, a good crowd saw the Stratford 2nd XI put in to field. Bromsgrove set a strong foundation to their innings, with 53 for #3 Underhill and scores of 40+ for opener Pedley and #4 Green. However the lower order couldn’t finish the innings with a flourish, as Bromsgrove went from 184-2 to finish on 238-8. There were three wickets for all-rounder Charlie Blake.
In reply, Blake scored 62 in a fifty partnership with Will Noble, who made 39. Wickets were kept in hand, however Bromsgrove’s bowling attack was able to keep the run-rate in check, ensuring a tight finish. Tim Smart made a half-century alongside Sam Douthwaite (34) and was there at the end to hit the winning runs off the last ball of the match. Smart finished with 72 and victory, by 6 wickets, meant that the 2nds returned to Division 1 at the first time of asking – and as champions.
Videos and photo taken by Stratford Herald.