ON a lovely summer day Llanarth travelled to Abercarn keen to put last week’s miserable performance behind them.

Dennis Heath won the toss and elected to field first. Gary Holley and Tom Heath opened the bowling and both settled into a nice rhythm, the former soon rewarded when he bowled Mark Franklin. Andrew Spencer (3-21) replaced T. Heath and there was no let up in the accuracy, a virtue that reaped dividends as he castled Kurt Smith. For the remainder of the innings Abercarn were in defensive mode as the Trees accuracy took its toll, only Suresh Kharade (30) showed any real intent but even he was becalmed after hitting his first two balls for four.

Chris Powell (3-16) was introduced and turned the screw ever tighter, eventually forcing an aerial strike. After last week’s fielding the whole team held its breath, and then let out a huge sigh of relief as T. Heath grabbed the offering. In between the dot balls Spencer hit the timbers again and Powell induced a nick behind that was taken by Sam Michell. Kharade’s patience finally ran out as he skied Powell to the long-on region where T. Heath looked for all money that he had overrun it, but he made a smart adjustment to claim his second catch.

T. Heath continued his fine day when on returning to the bowling crease he had opposition skipper, Ieuan Parsons, caught behind and when D Heath added a wicket of his own both father and son ended up with identical figures of 1-15 from their full compliment. When Spencer won the plumbest of plumb lbw decisions Llanarth had a couple of overs at the last pair but try as they might the final bowling point eluded them as Abercarn finished a slow afternoon with 98-9.

During tea the Trees were pondering that a nicely paced run chase should see the them home in 15 to 20 overs with minimal drama. However the start of the innings put paid to that. Ed James, clearly excited about his return to the sport, called Baxter (32*) for a single that his partner needed to begin running when the bowler started his run up to make it home safely. Thankfully the bowler, with all three stumps to aim for and Baxter around eight or nine yards short of his ground, missed and conceded an overthrow to boot. Next ball James’s fun was ended when he did well to actually reach a wide delivery only to guide it into the hands of gully.

From the last ball of the second over Michell aimed a huge leg side swipe at a straight one, and missed it. As Abercarn yelled a cacophonous lbw appeal Baxter turned his back to his partner, perhaps an indication not to waste the DRS review on this occasion, whilst umpire Heath took interminable seconds to work out that there was no sane reason he could allow his gun batsman to remain at the crease and the finger went up. A score of 9-2 on a pitch offering just enough nibble for Abercarn’s phalanx of medium dob, coupled with a slow outfield was not what the Trees were thinking of just ten minutes earlier.

Before Christian Dewfield reached the crease Baxter had opened the control panel on the back of his bat and switched it to the "Boycott" setting. There then followed a period of batting that had it been on "free to air" telly would have had youngsters rushing to their local tennis, golf and basketball clubs, never to see cricket again. To be fair to Dewfield he did pummel the rare dreadful delivery to the ropes and that kept the scoreboard ticking over during the blockathon as Llanarth reached drinks at 60-2.

Smith was introduced on the resumption and the extra pace to work with allowed Baxter to change the bat setting and play with a tiny hint of intent, even striking a couple of fours. Dewfield’s watchful calmness continued and the pair eased the total towards victory.

Having lost a couple of wickets in the chase Llanarth needed to ensure the winning total reached 100 to claim maximum batting points so once the score was 97-2 both batsmen agreed to no further running, wait for a poor delivery and heave it for four. Two overs passed before, finally, a half tracker was offered and Dewfield clubbed it to the fence for the desired outcome, finishing with 44* in an uncharacteristically patient, but excellent innings in the circumstances.

CRICKHOWELL travelled to Wormelow last Saturday, for their Marches League Division One encounter, with a full side but which still included a few ‘walking wounded’.

Wormelow, returning to the Marches League, this season, having played in a higher grade cricket further afield, are a strong outfit and are challenging for honours at the top of the table.

The home side won the toss and had no hesitation in batting on a good-looking wicket with a fast outfield. Crickhowell started well though with Ben Bowker removing both openers, Deem (9) and Jones (1), for single figures, and with Nick Francis replacing his son Lloyd, Crickhowell were bowling well enough to find the edges of Melly (84) and Williams (50) early on in their innings. Unfortunately the umpires and the batsmen concerned saw things quite differently and Crickhowell bemoaned their luck as both batsmen went on to make substantial contributions to the Wormelow total.

Snow (59) also chipped in as the home side finally got through to 286 for nine in their 45 overs. Whilst the two front line bowlers did well with Ben Bowker taking two for 35 off his 10 overs and Nick Francis 1-37-10, the part-time, ‘backup’ bowlers were a little more expensive. Nonetheless, Hywel Price (1-30) and Phil Christie (2-48) both picked up useful wickets and Joseph Bowker, still carrying a few injuries also rallied to the call and hobbled his way to 2-76 at a time when the middle and lower order for Wormelow were looking to cut loose.

On a hot sultry afternoon the Crickhowell fielding waned somewhat as the innings wore on, but wicket-keeper Wallace was solid as ever, giving Price his wicket with a sharp stumping, and Cornock also did well, taking a catch and showing alertness to eventually run out Melly, but unfortunately, with his extended stay at the crease, the damage was already done.

In reply, veteran openers Wallace (34) and Nick Kinman (17) gave the side a good start putting on 50 for the first wicket. Cornock (23) also looked good before offering a chance to Snow off the bowling of Reading (3-50) and with Christie and Jenkins going cheaply it was again left to skipper Francis (72) to try and get his side close. He and Ben Bowker managed to put on 50 for the seventh wicket, with Ben’s contribution a mere five, but staying with the skipper was the name of the game.

The tail did its best to support the captain, but when Francis was finally bowled, by Powell (1- 40), looking to push things along, any chance of getting close to the home side’s 286, also disappeared.

Crickhowell though did manage to get 204, to take four batting points to add to their four bowling points, and perhaps should have used up all their overs, which could have meant some extra points. However, in the end, they were all out in the 43rd over, with Joseph Bowker on 14 and Lloyd Francis remaining not out on six.

For Wormelow, Main (2-29) and Snow (2-33) bowled well and Williams (1-35) and Linley-Adams (1-13) were the other wicket takers.

The victory saw the home side finish the day on top of the table with 253 points just one point ahead of Garnons who had an easy win over Strollers.

Crickhowell, of course, cannot avoid relegation but at least their points tally for the season is now back ‘in the black’, standing proudly on plus three.

Next week, Crickhowell are at home to Luctonians who will be hoping for a win as they sit in third place in the league on 242 points, while the hosts will be optimistically battling hard for an upset against another strong team.