Cheltenham, Gloucester & Forest of Dean Division 2 (West). Penallt & Redbrook (95/1) beat Aston Ingham 2nd XI (94 all out) by nine wickets.
It’s not often the word “clinical” can be applied to village cricket, with its gentle rhythms and beery sunsets, but Penallt and Redbrook were all that and more when they took apart Aston Ingham at the weekend.
The local side bowled, fielded and then batted with endless determination, and the odd touch of real class, to first skittle the visitors and then wrap up a fourth successive victory by 6pm, in a total of just sixty overs.
Penallt’s nine wicket win, after losing the toss and being asked to field on a sweltering afternoon, was all the more impressive given Aston Ingham’s lofty status: the runaway league leaders has lost just one of their previous ten matches prior to Saturday’s visit to Pelham Hall.
They were undone by sharp bowling from every single member of the home side’s attack, backed up by energetic fielding that saw almost every catch held and just eight boundaries conceded in 35 overs of batting.
Several players rolled back the years (despite the lightning fast outfield) to produce diving stops more akin to the IPL than the Forest League.
Indeed, few witnesses will forget the feline dive by Liam Hurcombe, which somehow saved a one-bounce four at mid-on, to gasps from the pavilion, in the 25th over.
An impressive tone was set by Penallt’s opener Lyndon Jacques, who had opening bat Andy Wood caught behind for a duck in the second of an assured four over spell that produced three maidens, and saw just three runs conceded.
His partner in crime, Chris Margetts then removed Luke Ward, caught and bowled, a few balls later. By the end of the seventh over, Aston Ingham were still reeling on just eleven for two.
Then came a man-of-the-match performance from quick bowler Matt Spoor, who struck with his very first ball. It swung out, seamed back in, did the number three batsman Tom Parsons for pace, and sent his off stump cartwheeling in the general direction of the Wye Valley.
Spoor claimed two more top scalps in the ensuing five overs, conceding just 17 runs, and at times turning some of the league’s top batsmen into bemused spectators.
At the other end, Geoff Eaves was meanwhile turning the screw with a beguiling spell of spin, extracting bounce and turn from a rock hard pitch. He put down eight overs for the cost of just nine runs.
By the halfway stage of the 40-over innings, Aston Ingham had scored a mere 47 runs, for the loss of five wickets.
Left-hander Clyde Breetzke was the only visiting batsman to seem comfortable, though he never managed to quite cut loose. He spent 21 overs at the crease before being caught Guy Adams at extra cover for 31.
Spin bowler Greg Calderbank then joined the party, taking two for eighteen runs in four tidy overs. The first saw Margetts catch a fiercely struck drive at mid-on to remove Phil Aubrey for 11. The second saw him clean bowl tail ender Matt Davies, to wrap up the innings for 94 in the 36th over.
Penallt, who are sponsored by Paul Jarrold Tyres, have suffered the odd batting collapse this summer. So despite the absence of real scoreboard pressure were watchful in response.
Skipper Hyde and Margetts put on 63 for the first wicket, in an 18 over stand, before a couple of loose deliveries allowed the home side to put the game to bed in the 24th.
The win moves Penallt and Redbrook to fourth in the table, and they are hoping to avoid a fit of vertigo when they visit Newent Lions next Saturday.