Russell and Garry bowled in tandem until the thirtieth over when Garry was replaced by young James Chantry. He took a few deliveries to get his line but once he did, the batsmen did not take runs easily, with just two runs off the bat in his first over. Russell profited from this first, taking the fifth wicket, dismissing Perry caught and bowled for fourteen. Nine runs were taken from the remainder of Russell's over, but James pegged things back by dismissing Hall for 28. The new batsmen, Crane and Hallam, kept the scoring rate around five an over for the next three overs as Russell finished his spell with figures of 10-0-41-3 and went for a double change in the bowling attack, returning to openers Syed and Atif for the last five overs with Willoughby on 126-6. The batsmen looked to increase the scoring rate and whilst they did so, they also lost Hallam who was bowled by Syed for 18. He was followed by captain Nicholls for nought, also bowled but this time by Atif. With the last ball, Crane was run out by Matt Lewis as he and Quinney tried to push the score on by one more, finishing with a total of 154-9.
After tea, Ben Nightingale and Russell set out to the middle, mindful of the impact early run outs had had on the momentum of the Willoughby innings. They batted in contrasting styles, with Russell as the aggressor and Ben as the anchor, though that may have been more circumstance than design as Russell snuck a single to finish several overs. The result was that the score moved on to 37 without loss after ten overs. The runs continued to flow until their partnership was broken in the sixteenth over when Russell was caught out with the score on 61, 42 of which were his own runs. Russell was replaced by Syed who, like Russell, looked to score quickly and deprived Ben of strike by taking singles at the end of overs. Still, it was all fine as Castlethorpe continued in pursuit of the target. Together they put on 46 runs before Ben was bowled out for a steadfast fourteen in the 27th over. Garry joined Syed and two overs later could only watch as Syed was dismissed by an amazing catch. Syed smashed the ball for what looked like a definite four to the left of the fieldsman at cover, only for the left-handed fieldsman to dive at full stretch and take the catch mid-flight. We were all looking for the ball past him in the direction of the boundary because it just did not seem possible it could have been stopped, let alone caught. Syed had scored 36 runs but 37 runs were still needed for victory. With seven wickets and eleven overs remaining, Castlethorpe were still favourites.
Garry was joined by Atif but their partnership was short-lived. Crane, who had caught Syed out, was returned to the bowling attack for the three remaining overs of his spell and in the first bowled Garry out for 16. Alun Jones was next in and also next out when the same bowler bowled both him and his replacement Matt Lewis each for nought. First ball of the next over, Atif was adjudged out LBW five. We had stumbled to 129-7 and Willoughby's tails were up. Castlethorpe's batsmen were nervous. Matt Townsend saw off the remainder of the over, meaning that Jamie Crawford was to face Crane's yorkers. He connected with the first delivery and they took a single. Unfortunately Matt was bowled next ball for nought and two balls later, so was new batsman James Chantry. The last wicket pair, Jamie and Ian Easton, lasted three balls as Ian took a run of Crane's last delivery only to be bowled by the first of the 36th over. Castlethorpe were all out for 131, 23 runs short of the Willoughby total.
The game had turned on the performance of one opposition player, and it was far more a case of him winning the match than Castlethorpe losing it. Very rarely will we play like that and not earn twenty points.
Match report by Sharron Jones