Woolhope 129 all out (35.1 overs) lost to Crickhowell 130-8 (41-1 overs)
CRICKHOWELL headed off for their game against fellow strugglers, Woolhope, hoping the weather would hold out. With the season heading towards its climax, all the teams in the lower half of the Marches League Division 1 needed to get as many points in the bag as possible to ease any relegation woes.
Before the game, Crickhowell were in 6th position with Woolhope breathing down their neck in 7th spot so this was going to be a critical encounter. Nick Francis, having a remarkable run with the toss, called correctly again and invited the hosts to bat first on a wicket that had been covered overnight and showed signs of dampness.
Joseph Bowker then opened up the bowling down the slope with a following wind and had Woolhope immediately on the back foot. After 5 overs he had 3-8 runs and Woolhope were struggling to recover. Brother Ben, bowling up-hill and into the wind at the other end, still carrying an injury, was finding it more difficult and couldn’t replicate his performance on this ground last year when he took 6-30. Francis had to bring himself on and took a few overs to get used to the conditions but then took 4 wickets for 2 runs in 4 overs to finish with 4-21. Joseph Bowker then came back to grab another wicket for him to finish with 4-18 in 12 overs and father Phill came on to pick up the last two wickets but not before Davies had managed to hit a few hefty blows to see his side through to 129. Davies finished on 30 and earlier Watts (32) and Owen (16) were the only other batsmen to reach double figures.
Crickhowell would probably have settled for this situation before the start of the game but with over 30 extras conceded and perhaps another 20 or so runs that could have been prevented, there was still some tension at tea with what could be a tricky chase with conditions still favouring the bowlers.
Newcomer Price and Christie opened up and the new pairing looked steady enough before the curse of the lbw decision did for Price (0) in the 5th over. Ben Bowker (2) was then unluckily bowled around his legs by Watts before Christie (10) was bowled to give Watts his 3rd victim. Cornock (19) and Jenkins (14) then added some stability but it was a captain’s knock of 47 from Francis that got Crickhowell up to within striking distance of the home side’s total. But with Francis adjudged lbw and Joseph Bowker feathering a catch to the keeper for nought, Woolhope sensed that they might nip in for a famous victory. Crickhowell had veteran Ryland Wallace at the crease with young Callum Tew with only another veteran, Phill Bowker and young Lloyd Francis to come.
This was now becoming a tense affair, with every run cheered by the batting side, and every run saved, applauded by the fielding side. You can’t put a price on experience though, and with Wallace appearing to prod back ball after ball Woolhope might have been forgiven for thinking that they could win this match. Wallace though was just waiting for the right ball to attack and after getting off the mark for a single from the 17th ball he faced he then picked off two 4s in successive overs off Windley (0-29).
Callum Tew was then bowled by Davies (4-22) to add a bit more tension as Phill Bowker then joined Wallace at the crease with 12 runs still needed for victory. Whilst Bowker defended resolutely at one end, Wallace (16 not out) continued his master class of patience and technique at the other, defending the many good balls that Woolhope were still bowling and then picking off the runs here and there. Another 4 off Windley, three more singles from Wallace and a few extras here and there and the scores were level. But it was an anticlimactic ending as Windley bowled a wide to give Crickhowell victory by just 2 wickets in the 43rd over but the cheers from the side were still as loud as ever as another close encounter saw victory for the visitors. This win for Crickhowell saw their points tally climb to 181 just short of Builth on 189 in 5th place, who lost on the weekend.