Barrow Experience Mixed Fortunes In Thrilling Finishes

There was nail-biting drama for two of Barrow Gurney’s teams this weekend as games went to down to the wire. Whilst the Firsts unluckily lost off the last ball of their game at Shirehampton 2nds, the Sunday 3rds scraped home with the last pair at the crease with Harptree Villages dropping a catch to tie the game.

On Saturday at Shirehampton, Phil Milton’s team batted first and the captain led from the front forming a new opening partnership with Ben Skuse.  They made a steady start putting on 37 for the first wicket before Phil was caught behind for 17 in the 10th over. Ben followed soon after (also for 17) and as Jordan Allen followed soon after that, Barrow were reeling at 52 for 3. The rebuilding job fell to two of the younger members of the side as Bernie Forge (41) and Mark Fisher (44) began cautiously before starting to find the boundary. When Bernie was caught behind for her season’s highest for Barrow the partnership had realised 89 valuable runs. With Mark then being bowled and James Riley run out for 8, Simon Hudson and Frank Forge (in his first game of the season) did well to lift the score to 196-6 at the close.

In reply Riley struck early and with the score on 46 Mark Fisher was introduced into the attack and struck immediately by taking a caught and bowled chance.  He was to take 2 more wickets in his exemplary spell of 9-3-20-3 whilst the spinners kept the score down in mid-innings. A couple of confident appeals went unanswered as Shirehampton began to move towards their target. With 5 overs to go they needed 23 with 4 wickets left. Paceman Riley was brought back to immediate effect bowling Phipps for a crucial 49, and then, after Matt Owen had Cooley caught behind, took the 9th wicket with 2 still needed for Shirehampton. A couple of scrambled singles left the score level with one ball to go, but Earl was able to beat the field to score the winning runs. Heart-breaking for the Barrow team who are hovering above the relegation zone and are in need of a win next week at home to Woodpeckers 1st XI.

Some of the same Barrow players had to endure further tension on Sunday as the 3rd XI played Harptree on a brown and dry pitch which had very low bounce at one end. Losing the toss Steve Owen found his team in the field.

Nick Heal and Kieran Owen opened up and whilst Nick found a little bit of bounce at one end, Kieran found none whatsoever at his end. Kieran was nigh on unplayable as he bowled full and straight and the ball then passed the batsman an inch or two off the ground. Harptree did well to reach 15 for the opening partnership despite a few alarms, but then Kieran struck taking 3 wickets in 7 balls without any addition to the total, 2 bowled and one LBW taking 3/10 in all. The scoring then dried up as Steve himself came into the attack and eventually accounted for the promising young opening batsman Tommy Hester, also bowled.

The introduction of spin twins Frank Forge and Oscar Livesey allowed little respite for the home side as young Ben Thorne took an excellent catch off Frank who followed it up by taking a return catch (2/25 in all). Harptree were 6 down for 53 and then Oscar came into his own taking 3/19. With Ben Thorne’s quick work in effecting a run out thrown in to the mix, Harptree were all out for 79.

Opening with pace at one end and the wily spin of Phil Hogarth at the other, Harptree were determined not to go down without a fight. Bernie Forge and Oscar starting positively not wanting to wait for the unplayable ball with their name on it. Bernie fell trying to hit the spinner over the top and then Oscar became another LBW victim from the low bouncing end. James Riley and Matt Owen continued to be positive and added 21 (in the context of the game worth almost a 100 partnership on some surfaces) before Riley was too positive and hit a well struck shot straight back to the bowler.

Then young Tommy Hestor came into the attack and found some surprising seam movement in to the right hander. Ben was his first victim to one which moved about 6 inches off the pitch and kept low. Kieran then got one that did even more – completely unplayable, and Nick fell to a similar delivery too. Suddenly Barrow were 45-6 and things were precarious.

Matt was batting very well, getting a good stride in to everything and playing straight which was the key on this pitch and he was joined by Brigadier Block himself – Rod Reeves . Being left-handed helped negate the prodigious movement of Hestor.

Rod’s dogged defence was exactly what Barrow needed as he just dropped a dead bat on everything, playing really low to cover the lack of bounce. Meanwhile Matt was playing the occasional scoring shot to anything on leg stump, but with the score on 65 Matt finally did not get fully forward and was bowled.

Another quick wicket left Barrow 67-8 and 13 were still needed to win. Adam Brace  joined Rod. The overs ticked by and each run was hard earned as Barrow almost came to complete halt. Occasionally Adam would try an expansive shot to win the game in a glorious fashion but having hit the ball straight back at the bowler and hit him in the chest and then mishit one straight back to the same bowler who this time got hands to it and dropped it, it was a risky business. In their 8 tense overs together they added the 12 runs necessary to bring the scores level, a single here, a bye there, a wide and so on. But then Adam was bowled.

In came the skipper, the field was in and the crowd held its breath, the ball was short, Steve middled it straight to midwicket who dropped it! Then a play, a miss, an inside edge which trickled passed leg stump all of which increased the tension before finally he struck the winning blow. Rod’s 8 not out proved to be a match-winning innings.  

Next Sunday Barrow are home to Whitchurch Wyverns.

 Unfortunately the 2nds were outplayed in their home game with Carsons Mangotsfield 2nds. The visitors made 245-7, batting well on Barrow’s fast outfield. Mike Lilley treated the Barrow faithful to one of his best bowling performances taking 3/30 backed up with celebrations to match. The other highlight for Barrow was the long-awaited return of Ben Hodges who kept wicket flawlessly, taking a regulation catch, a stumping and a run out.  Ian Rosling top-scored for the visitors with a classy 50.

In reply Barrow tried to take the attack to the opposition but kept losing wickets along the way and at 82-5 the key batsmen had departed the scene and with 163 needed off 20 overs the situation was beyond Barrow. A good partnership developed between Mark Forge (top-scorer with 25) and Adam Brace (23), focusing on gaining as many bonus points as possible. The 56 runs they put on gained 3 points and they fell in pursuit of a fourth. The seconds visit Coalpit Heath next week and are hovering above the relegation zone.

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