Since the last season update, the 1st XI have consolidated their position at the top of the Third Division of the Birmingham League with an unbeaten run of games.
On 23rd May, they beat Streetly with an impressive chase of 239 away from home. Stratford’s bowlers had forced a middle-order collapse, with Streetly moving from 140-2 to 183-7, before an eight wicket partnership of 54. However the target was reached inside just 36 overs thanks to Ben Cooper’s second century of the season. He struck an unbeaten 133 from just 87 balls to guide Stratford to a 5 wicket win.
Back at Swans Nest Lane, 66 for Chris Whelan and 4 wickets for Tom Grundy helped Stratford to a comfortable 75 run victory over Worfield. The total of 228 was always beyond the visitors who found themselves 70-8, including 3 wickets in a matter of minutes for Grundy, before being bowled out for 153.
A fourth consecutive victory was secured away to Water Orton. 3 wickets each for Grundy and captain Mike Brown bowled the hosts out for just 164. An ankle injury to Ben Cooper meant he was unable to bat, however Stratford put aside that distraction to reach their total for the loss of 6 wickets, with 30+ scores from Adams, Calcott and Whelan.
The weather forced an abandonment versus Aston Manor without a ball bowled, before shortening the following week’s fixture against Kings Heath. The visitors set a target of 226, despite 4 wickets for Grundy and 3 for spinner James Urquhart. However rain reduced Stratford’s reply to just 20 overs, with a winning draw the only positive outcome available. The winning draw target was reached with easy, with opener Harry Adams striking 72 from 66 balls.
The second team currently find themselves second from bottom in the 2nd XI 1st Division.
Hosting Kenilworth Wardens on 23rd May, two early wickets for Lee Clarke plus three for Iain Lythall weren’t enough to prevent Kenilworth setting a challenging target of 245, with 41 extras not helping the cause. In reply, the top order didn’t contribute enough runs – Lythall top-scored with 34 at #10 as Stratford batted out their overs for 189-8, coming up 55 runs short.
Stratford made amends the following week away to Tamworth. Their score of 194-8 owed much to 54 from Josh Hickman and an unbeaten 48-run partnership between him and Lythall to close the innings. Hickman and Sam Douthwaite took regular wickets during the chase, before spinner Steve Cootes mopped up the last three wickets to secure a 49 run victory.
At home to Old Hill, Stratford were undone by 123 from opener Mohammad Shauib, whose 123 contributed over half of their 240-run total. In reply Stratford lost 3 quick wickets, but Adam Joseph carried his bat for 79 runs as Stratford picked up the consolation of a losing draw, reaching 177-5 off their 50 overs.
Away to Penkridge, the hosts were bowled out for 209 with 4 wickets each for spinners Cootes and Abell. In reply, Stratford’s chase was frustrated by rain and a middle order collapse. They reached 155-7 from 31 overs, a losing draw, with opener Sam Bishop falling one short of a half-century.
3rd XI (Bards)
The Bards currently sit in the middle of the Cotswold Hills Fifth Division, bouncing back from back-to-back losses with two well-earned victories.
Hosts Henley-in-Arden set a formidable 262 from their 45 overs, including a brutal half-century from one of their middle-order batsmen, containing numerous sixes. A make-shift batting line-up lost regular wickets, with only keeper Dan Hayward passing 20. The Bards limped to 101, a 161 run defeat.
A second challenging chase followed the week after, with visitors Welford setting 203. Opener Seb May made an impressive 81, after a quick fire 28 from Ed Cunynghame, the lower order couldn’t find the last 22 runs required.
The chase was more straightforward away to Rowington. 3 wickets for George Dick plus a sharp run-out by Josh Emery restricted the hosts to 125-7 from their 45 overs. In contrast to the hosts’ slow scoring rate, Stratford’s reply saw them hit the boundary almost every over and they reached their target inside just 22 overs. Tom Emery made an unbeaten 40, whilst Martin Malone and Josh Emery also made important scores.
A second win on the bounce was achieved away to Great Alne. Batting first, the Bards made 158 – Charlie Middleton made 49 whilst Will Pethick took 5-27. In response, the hosts crumbled from 26-1 to 80 all out inside 30 overs. There were 3 wickets each for John Paton, Lee Clarke and Thadius Kaminski-Gaze.