Winterton edge home against rivals
Two wickets in the last over of the game bowled by Ben Utting, who had a fine all round game, secured Winterton a tense five-run win in an exciting Alliance Division Five game against old rivals Great Melton A.
On a perfect cricketing day Winterton were asked to bat first on what looked to be the usual good Melton wicket.
Clarke and Austin were faced with some very tight opening bowling from Bettridge and youngster Darshan Rai. On 33 in the 15th over Austin (6) was beaten through the gate by Bettridge. Geoff Roper (3) soon followed when he miscued a pull off spinner Sims.
Martin Witheridge upped the scoring rate, but with the score on 74 was caught on the long on boundary for 20. Clarke was scoring steadily at the other end, picking up boundaries at regular intervals, although the Melton bowlers did not provide many loose deliveries.
Clarke and Ryan Edmonds pushed the score to 93 when Clarke, who had reached a deserved 50 was bowled by Rai for 51. At 93 for 4 and with 16 overs remaining there needed to be some “long handle” hitting – and the middle order again produced results.
Edmonds was bowled for 10 on the charge and Fred Playford and Ben Utting with brisk running and good strokeplay pushed the rate upwards until the consistent Playford (25) was caught.
Sam Drake (1) was lbw but Kevin Percival and Utting scampered and stroked their way to add almost 40 runs in the last five overs. The last over produced 19 runs, which was to prove vital.
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Utting with 40 and Percival with nine both remained unbeaten with the total of 179 for seven.
Utting and Richard Larner were as economical as the Melton bowlers and Larner again was in the wickets early on. Jason Whiddett and Clarke progressed slowly against accurate bowling.
Percival brought himself into the attack to replace Utting, who had conceded only nine runs in seven overs. Percival bowled Clarke, Lee Whiddett joined his brother and Jason started to play a few more shots until Larner had Lee lbw for seven and Jason (23) was caught one-handed at mid-off by Edmonds.
At 49 for four with almost half the overs gone it looked as if Melton might have to call off the chase. However, Stearman began his own counter-attack. Supported by G Bunn, 34, brisk runs were added before Snowling, in his first over (again), bowled Bunn.
With D Bunn to the wicket, Stearman was well caught off a full-blooded drive by Snowling off his own bowling for 33. Woods came in with 68 runs needed in 14 overs.
Melton dragged the score up to 159 until Bunn launched another hit into the deep off Percival where Utting took a sprawling catch. Rai was bowled by Percival when going for a big shot and Melton were 173 for eight needing seven off the last over.
Woods edged over the wicket-keeper towards the boundary where Josh Austin held another good catch in the deep at the second attempt despite contact lens problems.
Sims also tried to finish the game quickly and was lbw. Melton were all out for 174 – five runs short. Percival was the most successful bowler with 4-41 with Larner 2-25, Utting 2-18 and Snowling 2-39.
Having beaten the second-placed team, Winterton now face top side Rocklands against whom they suffered their only league defeat.
Winterton: B Clarke b Rai 51, J Austin b Bettridge 6, G Roper c b Sims 3, M Witheridge c Rai b Sims 20, R Edmonds b Sims 10, F Playford c Stearman b D Bunn 25, B Utting not out 40, S Drake lbw D Bunn 1, K Percival not out 9, extras 14. Total (7 wkts) 179. Bowling: I Bettridge 12-3-27-1, D Rai 12-1-39-1, R Sims 12-2-43-3, D Bunn 5-0-17-2, P Stearman 5-0-39-0.
Great Melton A: J Whiddett c Edmonds b Percival 23, M Bunn b Larner 6, M Clarke b Percival 9, L Whiddett lbw Larner 7, G Bunn b Snowling 7, P Stearman c-b Snowling 33, D Bunn c Utting b Percival 20, S Woods c Austin b Utting 39, D Rai b Percival 5, R Sims lbw Utting 1, I Bettridge not out 0, extras 24. Total 174. Bowling: B Utting 9.2-3-18-2, R Larner 12-3-25-2, K Percival 9-2-41-4, S Drake 2-0-14-0, D Snowling 7-1-39-2, J Austin 6-1-20-0.