STRATFORD CC promotion spot was at risk after they lost to Fordhouses by four wickets in the Birmingham League Third Division at Swans Nest Lane on Saturday, writes Leigh Tranter.

The home side were all out for 129 after just 33 overs. The total would have been even easier for Fordhouses if it wasn’t for Stratford’s highest scoring batsman Nathaniel Gregory who posted 54 runs not out. However the away side responded to their opponents uninspiring batting reaching their 130 target in 35 overs.

Fortunately the Panthers were given a life line and stayed in second place in the table after third place Streetly lost by one wicket against Newport.

Fordhouses won the toss and elected to put Stratford into bat in the over cast conditions. This proved to be to the correct decision for the away side who reduced Stratford to 25-5 after just six overs. Seam bowler Aatif Ali dismissed four of the five batsman, Rob West (5), Christopher Whelan (5), Ben Pigott (3) and Adrain Witts (0). Captain Chris Guest also contributed to the five wickets bowling out Dexter Purser for just four runs.

The partnership of Gregory (54) and James Harcourt (14), who were the only batsman to get over the five run mark, steadied the ship, contributing half of the runs in just four overs (50-5). But in the 18th over Harcourt was dismissed by Surinder Sharma for lbw (82-6).

Gregory the only batsman not out continued to bat consistently, however the tail end batting order fell apart resulting in Stratford losing their final four wickets for 47 runs. Tom Grundy (3), James Urquhart (4), Anthony Pratley (4) and Mike Brown (0) were all bowled out, leaving the away side with a 130 run target. The successful bowlers were Ali (5-37), Guest (2-26), Sharma (2-37) and Ashley Davies (1-12).

Stratford responded taking their first wicket in the second over (13-1). Sharma was dismissed for just four runs by a juggling catch in the slips by Gregory after a delivery from Whelan.

But Fordhouses didn’t let the early wicket get the better off them. Neil Cooper and Steven Sandhu scored freely adding a further 52 runs by the 13th over. The away side’s highest scoring batsman, Cooper (36) was out only two overs later, after being trapped lbw by Pratley (77-2). Stratford then started to take wickets at regular intervals.

Sandhu (29) was sent on his way by Grundy for lbw in the 15th over, before Zain Shah (5) were also dismissed for lbw from a ball from Urquhart. Urquhart then added another two wickets to his total. Russell Thompson (11) was caught and bowled by the spinner and Davies (13) was dismissed with his side only needing seven more runs to win. He was caught in the covers by Gregory, after a teasing ball from Urquhart (123-6).

Mitch Davies (2) and Daniel Williams (2) batted safely allowing the away side to reach their 130 target with four wickets to spare. Successful bowlers were Urquhart (3-21), Grundy (1-36), Whelan (1-24) and Pratley (1-6).

Stratford now look to win their final match of the season away at Newport on Saturday 13th September to make their promotion dreams a reality.

Scorecard – 1st XI lost to Fordhouses by 4 wickets

Review by Leigh Tranter