Cheltenham, Gloucester and Forest of Dean League, Division Two (West) – Penallt and Redbrook (160-3) were defeated by Redmarley (238-5).
Penallt and Redbrook, sponsored by Paul Jarrold Tyres, lacked strength in depth to be able to seriously challenge the target set by the home team at their picturesque Redmarley ground on a classic summer’s day for cricket. The absence of two key batters for Penallt confirmed they would face a difficult challenge against an in-form Redmarley side and could field only 10 when they took to the field.
Under sunny skies but with a stiff breeze, Redmarley preferred to have first use of what looked like an excellent batting track after winning the toss. The openers Hemmings (39) and Lawrence (30) made a confident start despite fine opening spells from Jacques (1-29) and Eaves (1-26), who were their usual miserly selves with five maidens between them. Seeing off the opening pair still intact, the batters then made rapid progress with some fine stroke play and appeared in little trouble, before a somewhat fortuitous top edge off Swanson (1-30) resulted in a fine take by Eaves at third man, catching a ball that appeared to hang in the air thanks to the breeze.
It was clear there was to be no respite for Penallt, however, as this brought to the crease Ed Aston, currently in a fine run of form, who wasted no time in taking advantage of anything short or wide. In a chanceless innings where everything came off the middle, the young left-hander played some handsome shots all around the ground, including two towering 6s in an over from Weldon (1-37), that required fetching from the adjoining field, on his way to an unbeaten 105. Despite regularly losing partners, Aston made the last ten overs increasingly hard work for Penallt as the boundary was found with increasing ease, the fielding highlight being a sharp leg-side catch by the keeper Harris, standing- up to remove Hemmings off Williams (1-43). The Redmarley innings closed on 238-5 with the centurion applauded from the pitch by both teams.
The Penallt and Redbrook reply began cautiously but was soon in full flow as boundaries and some good running showed that the pitch was playing well and that the target may not be unachievable. After 20 overs, both openers were scoring freely and at 76-0, with plenty of wickets remaining the matched was interestingly poised. However, after the break with some tight bowling from the home team the rate required climbed steadily. Penallt top scorer was Swanson, who looked set to make his way to a well-deserved century before being clean bowled by Watkins (1-35) for 72, including 9 fours and 2 sixes. It was Geoff Eaves, however - the elder statesman of the Penallt and Redbrook team at age 69 – who stole the show with a career-best 64 carrying his bat to end of the innings and leaving the field to a standing ovation from his team mates.
In a remarkable innings of skill and endurance, Eaves combined some elegant stroke-play with some uncharacteristic power hitting, including 10 fours, to put together a partnership with Swanson which was entertaining and looked to have set the foundation for a dart at the target to produce an unlikelyvictory. With Swanson gone however, the shortcomings of the Penallt batting line-up were cruelly exposed and none of the incoming batters were able to achieve double figures as the overs ticked by and the result became inevitable. The innings eventually closing on 160-3 as Eavesled the players off to the inviting pavilion.