CRICKHOWELL went into the home local derby against Glangrwyney without Lilly, Cornock and Joseph Bowker but were able to welcome back Parker, Watts and Phill Bowker.
In addition Crickhowell were also able to call on the experienced Phil Christie and gave a debut to newcomer Ben Lyster-Binns. Skipper Nick Francis won the toss and invited the visitors to bat first. His counter-part Mike Devoy opened the innings with Paul Daniel and together they conjured up a good start until Ben Bowker bowled Daniels and then trapped Devoy LBW on 30. Tim price at the other end was having no luck and Phill Bowker replaced him and tore the heart out of GlangrwyneyÕs middle order. He first trapped the dangerous Tim Price LBW, before then enticing Barry Sharp with a slower ball, which was well taken in the deep by son Ben. McIlroy then spooned another slower ball to Jenkins before Morgan and Nick Jones were both cleaned bowled to give Bowker 5 for 31 off his 12 overs against his former club. Nick Francis was then primed to mop up the tail, but he had no luck and several missed chances meant that Glangrwyney were edging up to a reasonable score. It was left to Tim Price [2 for 29] and Ben Bowker [3 for 30] to return and restrict the visitors to 169 all out in 38 overs.
After tea, Crickhowell were in confident mood, needing only 170 for the win, but were quickly reduced to 10 for 3 with Parker, Kerrison and the unlucky Lyster-Binns all back in the hutch. It was left to skipper Francis and Phil Christie to rebuild, and this they did to good effect. ChristieÕs sensible and patient approach was a perfect foil for Francis who was at his swashbuckling best at times, but mixed with a good measure of sound defence. They took the score from a precarious 10 for 3 up to 120 before Julian Hardwick grabbed the wicket of first, Christie, and then Jenkins. Francis though, was still there showing good shot selection and punishing the poor deliveries in some style. With the hard work done and the finishing line in sight, Crickhowell nearly pressed the self-destruct button to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Devoy was forced to bowl himself out but first managed to claim the wicket of veteran Wallace. With Crickhowell on 136 for 6 Glangrwyney were now forced to bring on a number of part-time bowlers and Francis managed to pull a long hop from Tim Jones to deep long on where his brother Nick took a good running catch Ð 150 for 7. At the other end, Paul Daniels, who had never bowled in a league game before, was weaving a little bit of magic. The Crickhowell lower order were like rabbits caught in the headlights, with Price and Watts giving Tim Jones some catching practice, from deliveries that were otherwise non-threatening. So with 9 wickets down and Crickhowell still needing 10 runs for victory Phill Bowker joined son Ben at the crease. Glangrwyney were sniffing the scent of a famous victory themselves, and of course a tie was also now a distinct possibility, but it turned out to be a close encounter of the third kind, with the last wicket pairing seeing their side home to a 1 wicket win. An exciting game and a close finish to keep the neutrals happy, but there weren’t many of those around. Crickhowell were jubilant and took 22 points from the game, but Glangrwyney played their part and picked up 6 points in defeat. The only note of controversy though revolved around the man of the match award nominated by the umpires. This should have gone to Nick Francis and his match winning innings of 88 just falling short of a century for the second week in succession. However, the umpires went with Phill Bowker for his 5-wicket haul and, of course, he had that bitter-sweet pleasure of hitting that final run to condemn his former club to defeat. Next week Crickhowell make the long trip to Kington and the Cwrt-y-Gollen outfit entertain Garnons at ’The Camp’.