Stamford Town avenged last week’s defeat at Castor & Ailsworth, by beating the same opposition by three runs in a low scoring thriller at Uffington Road on Saturday in the Hunts League Division One.
With a green, wet wicket looking as though it would offer considerable assistance to the bowlers, Castor won the toss and unsurprisingly decided to bowl first under a cloudy sky.
Chris Bore struck three quick boundaries, but a clever piece of bowling from Stuart Dockerill stopped him in his tracks for 14. Ryan Evans then accounted for Simon Lem and Tom Williams, his accurate slow left arm bowling proving very difficult to face. Andrew Hulme had begun a long vigil, bravely persisting against the accurate Castor attack, but Dockerill dismissed Alex Birch, before Ross Porter had Muhammad Chaudhary caught. Hulme at last found a partner in Tim Juggins (a vital 17) but Reece Smith claimed his wicket as the partnership was beginning to blossom. Porter bowled Dave Piggott before captain-for-the-day Simon Prentice rediscovered his batting form with a counter attacking 22 at number nine. Hulme was finally dismissed for 30 before Dockerill returned to clean up the tail and finish with 4-18. Stamford were 96 all out, inside 39 overs.
A disappointing total it may have been, but 96 would prove a tricky target for Castor in the face of a committed bowling and fielding effort from Stamford.
Sam Barrett was swinging the ball around corners and proving virtually impossible to play.
An absolutely unplayable delivery from him gave Stamford the important wicket of Mark Wheat and a sharp catch from Chris Bore rewarded Barrett further with the wicket of the second opener, Cameron Dockerill.
Having seen first-hand how difficult the slower bowlers had been to face, Stamford turned to spinner Alex Birch to grind Castor to a halt. He collected the next three wickets as his first eight overs were unbelievably, all maidens. His spell returned the remarkable figures of 10 overs, eight maidens, 2-3. Having seen the impact of Birch, Stamford allowed part-time twirler Andrew Hulme a rare bowl and he rewarded them with a wicket of his own to make an unlikely victory an increasing possibility.
Scott Chamberlain was introduced at the other end, and struck a blow of his own while keeping things very tight. Tim Juggins, who had opened the bowling and bowled well without success was brought back to replace Hulme as Stamford chased the last three wickets, his first ball found the gloves of Simon Lem via the edge of number nine’s bat, before Chamberlain took his second wicket to set up a tantalising finale; Stamford needing one wicket, Castor needing 11 runs.
A few more frantic exchanges then saw Castor edge up to 92-9. The backbone of Castor’s innings had been provided by William Jex, who played brilliantly to reach 33, but as he was struck on the pad by Juggins, a huge appeal from Stamford caused time to stand still. The umpires finger was finally raised and Stamford had been rewarded for their ‘tooth and nail’ fight with an important win, which keeps them in touch with the leading pack in Hunts division One, which is currently headed by Castor.
Stamford sit fifth.