Bradenham see chance drift away

Bradenham missed yet another opportunity to help secure their place in Alliance Division One with a disappointing performance at Old Buckenham.

The league leaders were always going to provide stiff opposition and for Bradenham to get anything out of the match, they knew they would have to be on top of all aspects of their game. The start of the match was delayed by 45 minutes because of rain and, as a result, the umpires declared a reduced number of overs to 45 per innings. Mark Hunter won the toss for the visitors and asked the hosts to bat.

The sun came out and Bradenham set about their task well with Brett Stolworthy showing good pace and Alex Bates' swing beating the bat regularly. He was rewarded early on when Banham edged a drive to gully where Will Dewing took a splendid diving catch.

Home skipper Terry Perry came to the wicket and began to build a partnership with opener Jon Fudge but Bradenham were giving little away with tight bowling backed up with some sharp work in the field. Will Dewing was introduced into the attack and served up his now customary line and length to further frustrate the Bucks batsmen and was extremely unlucky to have what looked like a plumb lbw appeal against Fudge turned down.

Meanwhile, Brett Gates' succession of injuries had improved enough for him to bowl his first spell of the season at the other end and, again, Bradenham felt aggrieved when Gates had a caught-behind appeal against Perry turned down by the umpire. Perry was eventually bowled by Will Dewing for 78 while Fudge was bowled by Bates in his second spell, for a patient 28.

Ex-Dereham duo James Heaney and Andy Lawrence struck the ball well for Bucks to finish on 190 for four. Bates – having his best season for Bradenham – again took the eye finishing with three for 38 from his 11 overs.

This was a reasonable total but not impossible for the visitors to beat by any means.

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Openers Kevin Stagles and Steve Matthews were careful at the start of the Bradenham innings but kept up with the required run rate. The score was on 42 when Matthews edged a chance to slip and was out for 17. Stagles followed for 27 but with plenty of batting in this Bradenham side, the required total was still very much within reach.

Bucks introduced a twin spin attack and this was to prove critical for Bradenham. First, the normally free-scoring Lewis Denmark was bowled by Robbie Austin for 1 and Alexander accounted for in-form Stolworthy for 14. Pat Dewing added 17 before Lawrence uprooted his off stump and it now began to look desperate for Bradenham.

Captain Hunter and Kevin Blakey added 20 but it was now a case of hanging on for the visitors. The pair of Gates and Evans were well suited to the task and took the score to 125 to secure the additional point, losing seven wickets on the way. Best bowler for Bucks was Alexander who took three for 27 from 11 overs.

The bright spot of the afternoon was Gates' return to frontline bowling and all his experience will certainly be required in the final two games of the season as the club battles against relegation.