Eckersley half-century not enough at Barnt Green

RESULT | Second XI Trophy (50 overs): Warwickshire Second XI 189 for 1 beat Leicestershire Second XI 188 by 9 wickets


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Warwickshire CCC hosted Leicestershire CCC in a Second XI Trophy game at Barnt Green CC, this being the third of six SET games for Leicestershire in the 2018 campaign. Our previous two matches registered one victory and one no result due to a washout.

Barnt Green CC is some 10 miles south of Birmingham city centre, and Barnt Green village is in the Civil Parish of the Bromsgrove District of Worcestershire. Ian Lavender (Private Pike) of Dad’s Army played as wicket-keeper for Barnt Green CC before he rose to fame in an acting role. You may recall 2 of Captain Mannering’s famous sayings of ‘Stupid Boy’, and ‘Don’t tell them your name Pike’.

Ex-captains of Barnt Green CC include Richard Illingworth (2005) and Dougie Brown (2008-2012). I was also told by the Barnt Green Oracle that Gus McKay, one time Leicestershire CCC Operations Manager, played for Barnt Green CC for some 12 years. In the same breath I was also downloaded information that Andy Flower, the former England Head Coach, was also an ex Barnt Green CC player. Barnt Green First and Second XI are in the Birmingham & District Premier League, and their third and fourth XIs are in the Worcestershire County League.

The ground is situated in a lovely area, with properties surrounding the ground in the £1 million plus bracket. The journey in the immediate vicinity of the ground was like an audition for the Krypton Factor, thanks to roadworks causing a local diversion.

Warwickshire recorded a comprehensive victory, winning by nine wickets. Leicestershire were dismissed for 188, with the Bears replying with 189-1 from 18.5 overs. Ned Eckersley (55) offered stout resistance, supported by Tom Taylor (27), Harry Swindells (27) and Dieter Klein (24).

Taylor also had a commendable spell with the ball taking 1 for 19 from 4 overs. Ed Pollock (90*) and Dominic Sibley (88) were in imperious form for the host county.

The scorers are positioned on the veranda of the delightful pavilion, which is on the cover/mid-wicket boundary. On the far side of the ground, behind the majestic looking trees trains rattle along from, and to, Birmingham and Worcester on the Lickey Incline, avid train spotters amongst us from years gone by will recall it as being two miles long, with the steepest main line railway incline in Great Britain, a 1 in 37 gradient. My memory evoking the smell of steam from years gone by drifting past my nostrils, bit like the photo on a Bisto advert!

There was a very good attendance present for a Second XI game, some 100 spectators being scattered around the boundaries edge, amongst them a contingent of 3 from Leicestershire, Rosemary, Chris & Mick, stalwarts one and all!

Tom Wells won the toss for Leicestershire, and elected to bat. A sunny and warm mid-May morning greeted the players as they took to the field. The leaves on the tall mature trees surrounding the ground remained still as there was no wind whatsoever.

Mark Pettini and Wells opened the innings for Leicestershire against a pace attack of Oliver Hannon-Dalby and left armer Keith Barker. County were soon on the back foot being reduced to 31-3 from 8.5. The men to go being Pettini(1), bowled by Barker, Aadil (13) caught behind by keeper Alex Mellor off Hannon-Dalby, and Wells (13), another victim for the Mellor/Hannon-Dalby combination.

Eckersley was joined by Ateeq Javid, and the pair staged a mini-recovery. Eckersley was looking very comfortable, a venomous square cut for four off paceman Aaron Thomason particularly caught the eye. Javid (18) went caught at slip by Will Rhodes of leg spinner Josh Poysden, County 75 for 4 off 18.4.

Zak Chappell (0) was bowled by Thomason soon afterwards. Taylor joined Eckersley, and the pair added 47 for the sixth wicket. The pick of Taylor’s shots being a sublime drive through mid-off to the ropes of Thomason. Eckersley went to his 50 (4x4) from 68 balls when the score reached 125-5 from 30.3 overs.

There was now a mini-mayhem developing around the Scorers’ domain as many of the spectators were coming up asking for scorecards, and the new scoring system is unable to print them at present in a format that shows both teams until the side batting second has started their innings. I am sure the good people at Pro Scorer are working on this.

‘Scorecardgate’ was resolved following a phone call to Edgbaston who quickly knocked up a scorecard, and emailed it back to Barnt Green for printing off. My colleague was feverishly printing them off as the game continued. One of the spectators kindly walked around the boundary dishing scorecards out like confetti. It is amazing how a sheet of A4 paper can take sooth the anguish and frustration of any given situation.

Eckersley and Taylor were naturally oblivious to all of this, and proceeded on their merry way. Taylor (27) went caught at deep mid-wicket by Sibley off spinner Alex Thomson, not to be confused with paceman Aaron Thomason.

Eckersley’s fine innings of 55 came to an end when he was bowled by Poysden. My observation of Ned at the crease is that his body language portrays a very calm demeanour when he is running a comfortable single, belying the speed at which he covers the 22 yards when anything more than a single is required to be run.

We then had the highest partnership of the innings 50, between Harry Swindells and Dieter Klein. Both batsmen found the ropes off the bowling of Thomason and Thomson. Swindells is a real busy bee when running between the wickets, but elder statesman of the partnership Klein was keeping pace with his young counterpart.

At this juncture local ‘Royalty’ passed by in front of me when the King of Spain, Warwickshire CCC Head Coach Ashley Giles, took up his position on the veranda. (remember all of those mugs that were made after the 2005 Ashes victory? I have actually got one would you believe!)

Swindells and Klein brought up their 50 partnership from 64 balls when the score reached 181-7 from 43 overs. Immediately afterwards Swindells (27) was bowled by the returning left arm paceman Barker. Ben Mike (5) went caught at deep mid wicket by Thomason off the also returning  Hannon-Dalby. The innings came to an end when Klein (24) was bowled by Barker. James Dickinson 2*. Leicestershire all out for 188 from 45.2 overs.

The Warwickshire reply got off to a pulsating start, and they maintained the tempo throughout the innings. Pollock and Sibley opened the innings. 50 runs came up after 4.2 overs, and Pollock raced to his 50 (8x4, 3x6) from 24 balls. The 100 partnership came up after 9.3 overs, Pollock 62* from 30 balls and Sibley 32* from 29 balls. The batsmen, however, found Tom Taylor difficult to score runs from. Sibley went to his 50 (8x4, 1x6) from 41 balls, and the 150 partnership came up after 14.3 overs.

With 2 runs required to win Sibley (88) from 61 balls launched Taylor skywards, Wells running back, at pace, from mid on took a superb catch, taking the ‘steepler’ as it came from behind him, arms outstretched ,and pouching it in front of him. Warwickshire reached their target in the next over, Pollock a superb 90 not out from 51 balls (13x4, 4x6), Sam Hain 1*. Warwickshire 2 points, Leicestershire 0 points.

* Leicestershire CCC’s next two matches are at Lutterworth CC, both SET games. First up are MCC YCs on Thursday 17 May, followed by Nottinghamshire CCC on Monday 21 May. Both matches start at 11.00am and admission is free.