Cider Watch: Frocester seize Premier One title from Bath in a game of ‘high drama’ – by Eric Woodmason

Frocester CCC_4Saturday saw the final round of matches in this year’s West of England Premier League which decided promotion and relegation for our league clubs across Somerset. This week Jeremy Blackmore rounds up the news from each of the divisions, including the role played by Somerset CCC players past and present. Today in the third of our series of reports, we have news from a dramatic game between leaders Bath and Frocester to decide the Premier One title, featuring a report from Frocester Honorary Secretary Eric Woodmason.

Frocester seized the Premier One title from leaders Bath on Saturday with a dramatic 21-win over their rivals.

With just nine points separating the two clubs going into Saturday’s final round of matches, the fixture list had thrown up an enthralling end to what has been a memorable season. The game at Frocester’s Pounds Close ground amounted to a final with everything to play for.

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In a report on the club website, Frocester Honorary Secretary Eric Woodmason said: “It went right to the wire and was high drama all the way until the final moments. It was a match full of incident, which ebbed and flowed, with neither team able to dominate for any length of time.”

Here Eric describes the ebbs and flows of an enthralling game which brought the title home to Frocester for the second time:

“Nick Trainor won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first with Paul Muchall and Uzi Qureshi making a fluent start, 20 runs coming from the first four overs. Adam Kelly pulled up with a hamstring injury incurred from the first delivery of his second over, a huge blow to Bath’s hopes, but Will Jenkins took over and immediately bowled Qureshi for 9. Frocester continued to score at five runs per over, but Trainor fell, caught at mid-wicket for 9, and, with the total at 61, Muchall (22) and Bracey fell leg before to consecutive deliveries from James Brown.

“But, Tom Wand, batting in a composed and fluent style, provided the backbone of the Frocester innings. He was the dominant partner in a partnership of 61 with Fin Dixon that took the total to 122 for 4, but Dixon, trying a lofted drive, spooned a catch to point, out for 15. Lewis Gegg looked in good form but flashed at a bouncer and snicked a catch to the keeper. At 136-6, the match had swung in Bath’s favour, but Olly Jones joined Wand in a vital partnership of 32 that lifted Frocester’s hopes. Wand achieved his half century and set himself to bat through the innings, but, he fell in the 46th over for a fine 73, which included 9 boundaries, with the total at 168-7. Olly Jones worked hard to ensure his team batted out the overs and was dismissed for 19 from the final delivery of the innings as Frocester reached a total of 189-9.

“This total felt 30-40 runs light, and that early wickets would be required with the new ball if Frocester were to have any chance of victory. Muchall and Dunning began with hostile and accurate spells, but it was a moment of sheer magic that brought the first wicket. Louis Gegg decided to stand up to Dunning and this paid dividends as he took a bouncing, leg-side delivery from Dunning and managed to bring it back down in time to complete a remarkable stumping, with Will Jenkins totally bemused.

“Robin Lett, often Frocester’s nemesis with the bat, mis-timed a pull shot from a quick bouncer from Muchall and was caught at mid-on for 12, with Bath staggering at 24-2. Hankins fell to a great catch at deep mid-wicket from Olly Jones, as Muchall captured another wicket with a short, hostile delivery, 32-3.

“(Somerset CCC Academy youngster) Tim Rouse (28) and Sam Mount (30) batted sensibly as Bath fought back, but, Richie Cave was in the groove, bowling very accurately and trapped Rouse plumb in front. Bath skipper, Lloyd Davies now entered the fray and was clearly intent on taking his team to victory. However, pressure was rising and Mount lost his composure, lofting a catch to cover, well-held by Sam Bracey. Frocester took charge as Richie Cave captured two wickets with consecutive deliveries, as Bath lurched to 115-7.

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“In recent weeks Bath had brought back the experienced James Brown to bolster their challenge for the title. His partnership with Davies was the match decider; with sensible, controlled batting, they took the total to 160-7, with Bath heading for victory. But, Nick Trainor, switching his bowlers by the over, entered the attack, and Davies made the fatal mistake of playing back and across and was trapped LBW for 33, in what must have been a close decision.

“Adam Kelly now limped to the wicket with a runner, which added to the drama and pressure. Every good delivery, every good piece of fielding and, indeed, every run was now vital and fully appreciated by the largest crowd seen at Pounds Close for several years. Trainor now produced his trump card, bringing the sparingly-used Olly Jones back for the final overs. Brown played one sweep  too many and was trapped in front, LBW for 30, 168-9, and Frocester closing in on victory! Sure enough, Marchant chipped a shot towards Tom Wand at mid-wicket and the crowd momentarily held its breath as the ball hung in the air, but the whole ground erupted as Wand safely held it, with all the Frocester players, and several supporters, converging on him to begin the celebrations.”

After the game, triumphant Frocester skipper Nick Trainor said: “It was one of the best days of my life. A great match and just fantastic to win the title! It’s been a great season and full credit must be given to our young players, who have worked so hard”.

Eric Woodmason said: “It’s only just sinking in. It seems to mean more to win the title for the second time. We know how difficult it is, how hard Bath are to beat over the course of a season. It’s a huge success for the whole club with so many people having put in so much effort”.

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Meanwhile Tom Stayt, ex-Gloucestershire CCC, tweeted “A great advert for WEPL cricket today. Great intensity and very competitive. Glad I was there. Congrats to Frocester CC”.

This is the second year running that Bath and Frocester have battled it out Bath coming out on top in 2013 by the much more considerable margin of 47 points.

Match summary: Frocester 189-9 off 50 overs (Tom Wand 73, James Brown 4-21, Will Jenkins 4-46) beat Bath 168 all out off 45 overs (Lloyd Davies 33, Richard Cave 4-31) by 21 runs.

Links:

Frocester CC v Bath CC – http://frocester.play-cricket.com/view_results_details?id=11847876 (click on ‘match report’ to see Eric’s original report)

In the fourth and final part of his end-of-season WEPL round-up for The InCider, Jeremy Blackmore will look at the rest of the matches in Premier One last Saturday, including the outcome of an exciting relegation scrap between Weston Super Mare and Taunton St Andrews.