Sunday, 23 June 2019

Belcher's five-star show fails to save Horspath

Lloyd Belcher claimed 5-48. Picture: Simon Hipwell
LLOYD Belcher's five-wicket haul proved in vain as Horspath slipped to a two-wicket defeat against second-placed Datchet in Home Counties Premier League Division 1 at the Wally Gage Memorial Ground. 

Having been put in to bat, Horspath posted 165 on a difficult pitch. The visitors turned to a fifth different opening pair in seven games with Will Robertson joining Robbie Eason at the top of the order. They had put on 18 when Eason was adjudged lbw to left-arm seamer Ollie Smithson, who then bowled Tom Cosford to make it 30-2.

Robertson was standing firm, though, and took the score to 54 with Darryl Brown when the latter was given out lbw attempting to sweep a delivery from off-spinner Steven Naylor. Horspath slid deeper into trouble when Stephen Green fell first ball to the Datchet skipper's next delivery with Max Stevenson taking the catch at short leg.

Kyle Hopper joined his Oxford MCCU teammate Robertson to take Horspath to lunch at 86-4, but they had added only one more run after the break when the former came down the pitch to Naylor and was stumped by Joe Thomas for 15. Robertson's patient knock then came to an end when he fell lbw to Naylor for 40 to make it 90-6.

Will Hawtin, who played the shot of the day with a superb four off his legs through mid-wicket off Smithson, had made 15 when he became Naylor's fifth victim with Stevenson taking the catch to make it 113-7. Skipper Will Eason batted fluently for 16 before edging a delivery from Smithson to Naylor, who held on to a great catch at first slip to leave Horspath 143-8.

Horspath had added just one more run when Belcher was adjudged lbw without scoring as Naylor took his haul to six. Jamil Faruq, who finished unbeaten on 32, and Asad Rafiq added a useful 21 for the last wicket, before the innings came to an end in the 57th over when the latter top-edged a delivery from David Brent, who was to go on to enjoy a very good day at the office, to Smithson in the covers. Naylor finished with impressive figures of 6-55 from 24 overs, while Smithson picked up 3-50 and Brent 1-24 from 13.3 overs. 

Horspath got off to a fantastic start with the ball, removing both openers for nought as Datchet were reduced to 2-2. Robertson made the breakthrough with the third delivery of the first over when former Shipton-under-Wychwood batsman Joe Barrett edged a catch to wicket-keeper Will Hawtin. Rafiq swiftly followed up by taking the important wicket of Naylor with Cosford taking a cracking catch at second slip to dismiss the Datchet captain.

Brent and Jonty Jenner held Horspath at bay until Cosford's introduction into the attack brought the visitors' next success. With 34 on the board, Jenner lofted a drive off the Horspath off-spinner and Brown took a good catch halfway back to the long off boundary.

Belcher got in on the act with Thomas adjudged lbw to make it 51-4, and four runs later the left-arm spinner struck again with Cosford sticking out his right hand at short extra cover to take a sharp catch to remove Stevenson. Belcher then got one through former Slough captain Bobby Sher's defences to leave Datchet 67-6, and he did the trick again to have Vishal Aeri adjudged lbw and further boost Horspath's hopes with the hosts 79-7.

Three runs were added before tea without further loss, but after the resumption Horspath found themselves frustrated by Brent, who completed his half-century, and Tom Lambert. Datchet's eight-wicket pair put on a crucial stand of 50 before the latter became Belcher's fifth victim when he was trapped lbw for 16.

That was to prove Horspath's last success, though, with Brent continuing to bat supremely well and, joined by Smithson, he steered the visitors home in an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 42 at 171-8. The Zimbabwean left-hander completed victory in style with his second six to finish unbeaten on 99 from 144 deliveries, which also included seven fours.

Belcher ended with excellent figures of 5-48 from 19 overs, while Cosford, with 1-32 off 13 overs, Robertson, 1-46 off 13.2, and Rafiq (1-10) all bowled well as Horspath were left to reflect on another game where they had just come up short.

Horspath remain eighth in the table ahead of next Saturday's trip to leaders Henley.

Posted by: Russ