After romping home to a 9 wicket victory the previous week and ending Trojans promotion hopes, the 1st XI made the short journey to Whitemoor Lane to face local rivals and relegation threatened Paultons, in a game that would have huge importance at both ends of the table. Skipper Mark Lavelle was successful at the toss and chose to have a bat on what looked a very good wicket for batting.
Lavelle himself and the in-form Matt Hardy opened the batting and quickly got us away to a perfect start, negotiating the new ball superbly and scoring at a good rate, punishing any bad balls on offer to the boundary with ease, at the first drinks break at 17 overs the pair were still at the crease with the innings set well at 77/0. Skipper Lavelle was the first man to pass 50, his second this year in what has been a disappointing runs return by his own standards, with the partnership now at 112, Lavelle fell being run out for 51. This brought Ben Johns to the crease who in the second half of the season has hit some great form and he was quickly into his stride. Hardy at the other end made it back to back 50s before departing caught mid-on for exactly 50 and leaving the innings evenly poised at 119/2 off 30 overs after a good spell of bowling from Denney and Metcalfe for Paultons.
Aussie Ben Moss joined Johns and the pair were very busy at the crease from the offset, knowing a score of around 225 would be par, both Ben’s ran superbly between the wickets with Moss in particular finding the rope on regular occasions, timing the ball too well was Moss’ downfall as an attempted chip for one managed to sail all the way to the man at long-off and Moss departed for a quickfire 22 that gave fresh impetus to the innings. Paul Proudley was promoted up the order with 10 overs remaining but shortly departed for 2 having been given LBW. Johns going well was joined by Ben Perry who has enjoyed his best 1st XI season with the bat and the pair continued to accelerate the innings scoring easily in excess of 6 an over and propelling us past 215/4 with 4 overs to go, Johns was then run out for a well-constructed 40 and Perry (27) fell the same way. It was down to the experience of Pegler and Rose who batted expertly at the end to guide us to 249/7 off our 50 overs, a score we were confident of defending if we bowled well.
The usual new ball partnership of Proudley and Wright were in action after tea, and both of them bowled brilliantly to restrict Paultons early on, Wright getting the early breakthrough of Feltham who despite launching a 6 and having a couple of lives was caught well at slip. At the 10 over mark, Proudley and Wright along with some superb fielding had restricted Paultons to just 19/1 someway of the required rate. Dan Croft replaced Proudley in the attack and struck a double blow straight away removing Paultons remaining opener Wateridge and number 3 Scott Hills with his metronomic away swing. This brought the dangerous pair of Rob O’Brien and Josh Metcalfe to the crease, both players who like to score quickly, and that they did, despite being 38/3 at the first drinks break, the pair quickly accelerated the score, and after Wright had finished 1/25 off his 10, skipper Lavelle came into the attack and struggled to contain the Paultons batsmen and was soon replaced by Croft to bowl in tandem with James Rose. At the 30 over mark and 114/3 the game was well in the balance, but Rose who was showing off all his skills, dismissed Metcalfe (38) caught well by Johns in the deep.
Rob Pike joined O’Brien and struggled to get going to start with as Croft and Rose built the pressure with some dot balls, and the pressure finally told as Croft (3/55) picked up his 3rd, dismissing the dangerous O’Brien (51) again caught well in the deep by Johns. The wicket meant that the experienced and big hitting Paultons skipper was now at the crease and the result of the game would hinge on Richman’s performance with the bat. To all of the growing Calmore supporter’s relief, Rose dismissed him LBW before he could get going and left Paultons teetering at 149/6 now needing nearly 10 an over for victory. Pike and Ennew continued to be tied down by Lavelle and Rose and victory for Paultons now seemed a long way off, with our aim now to pick up as many bowling bonus points as possible. Rose finished his superb spell and the death bowling was now down to Proudley and Lavelle, and it was Proudley who picked up 2 late wickets of Ennew and Murrell to earn an extra point, as Paultons finished 216/8, 34 runs short of victory with Rob Pike finishing 51*.
An excellent team performance to get the win now means that the 1st XI need one point against Bashley next week to confirm their return to Division 1 at the first time of asking, whilst victory will see them crowned champions. Hope to see as many of you down at Bashley Road cheering the lads on, one more big effort!