As Barrow Gurney’s league cricket season began, the club’s three teams enjoyed some batting successes but were on the losing side of highly competitive matches. On Saturday, it was Barrow’s women cricketers who really excelled with the bat as Bernie Forge hit 73 for the Firsts and Ellie Holdaway 48 in the Seconds, both being the top-scorers for their teams.
At Hobbs Lane, Barrow’s First XI, captained by young Frank Forge, featured some new faces, and they were playing last year’s Bristol & District Division 5 winners, Bristol Lions. On winning the toss, the Lions chose to bat first, But the new skipper was faced with an immediate problem when vice-captain, Ed Holdway, arrived to say he couldn’t bowl because of a go-karting accident leaving Barrow with only 2 seamers for the day but a rather unusual amount of off spinners.
The pace of Mark Fisher and the off spin of the new skipper opened the bowling and kept things tight to start with. Eventually the wicket came with a genuine edge to slip and a good low catch from the injured Ed. Mark then took a good catch at long off moving to his left off Frank which meant that after about 10 overs the Lions were roughly 30-2. Barrow looked alive in the field and well on top at this stage. At drinks with the score being about 100-2, and with a few chances gone begging, saw former Barrow player Alwis getting into his stride. Despite good fight from the bowlers on a great track, the Lions pushed on and Barrow were struggling to help their bowlers by not fielding to the best of their abilities. There were some highlights in the field however including, barely moving Ed, taking a high catch in the most casual manner and Guy Fisher getting a run out at short third man. Barrow managed to finish well with Mark picking up a few well-deserved wickets (3/45) and Phil Milton (2/24), replacing Jonny Sykes, who sustained an injury whilst bowling, who proved to be a canny death bowler getting the wicket of Alwis (133), stumped by Bernie, and bowling economically. The Lions finished 295-9 off of 45 so Barrow managed to get 4 bowling points.
After a stern team talk, Barrow set about chasing the target. Bernie Forge and Phil Milton then put on over 100 for the first wicket, taking what the bowlers gave them while still managing to score at 5 an over. Phil was eventually out for a well-made 34. The batsmen kept fighting on with a good scoring rate, Bernie the pick of them eventually out for a brilliant 73 and a maiden 50 in the First XI. Debutant (and former Lions’ player) Benura Umanga hit a very quick 39 and looked as if he was up for the challenge of winning the game for Barrow until a very unlucky run out where he slipped while trying to make his ground. Guy Fisher got a very good Yorker to be bowled and Barrow’s last hope was Mark Fisher who hit a few lusty blows including a straight drive 6 on his way to 30 not out. Barrow needed 10 an over off the last 7 or so but couldn’t quite get over the line due to running out of wickets, Jonny Sykes even heroically hobbling out at No 11!! Finishing 259 all out off of 41 overs was a brilliant effort and selfless batting all the way down the order.
Frank Forge said afterwards: “Overall it was an incredible batting performance from the team and a lot of fight was shown. We just needan improvement in the field and we will win a lot of games if we play as we did.” Barrow took 9 bonus points from the encounter.
Mike Lilley’s first game as skipper started off well when he won the toss and inserted Bedminster but after that it proved a tough day for the 2’s at a very chilly and windy Clanage. Paul Gard opened up with the wind behind him, picking up an early wicket and with Pete Rooney doing a sterling job running into the wind, Bedminster were restricted to 40-1 off 10. Unfortunately, that early breakthrough proved to be the only success of the innings as Dave and Owen Peacock put on a father and son partnership of 247 that took the home side to a very imposing score of 285-1 off their 40 overs.
They were assisted by some of Barrow’s bowlers being a little rusty to say the least, Barrow’s less than athletic fielding (Ellie Holdaway aside who was magnificent and saved Barrow at least 30 runs) and some short boundaries but credit to the Bedminster batters who played very well, and but for a couple of diving efforts by Roger Finnimore and Paul Gard, their innings were pretty much chanceless.
Barrow’s reply got off to a flyer with a flurry of boundaries from Ali Hood but Bedminster soon found their line and length and fielded very well in the ring preventing easy singles, cutting off the boundary an over Barrow needed to stay in touch. Ali (38) and Roger (6) perished before drinks, the latter to an enthusiastic desire to take a quick single but an unsuccessful attempt to turn around when it was declined leaving him on the deck as the ball returned to the bowler. Ellie Holdaway was then joined by Mark Gracey (31) who played some great shots including a straight six and some unusual shots including one back over the keepers head. It was by now clear that maximum batting points was probably more realistic than a victory and Barrow closed in on this as Ellie was unluckily run out just shy of her half century (48) after a great pick up & throw down from the covers. An Adam Brace boundary and a last ball 4 byes meant that Barrow did get the 5 points by closing on 202-7.
On Sunday the 3rd team visited Peasedown St John to play Kilmersdon. Batting first Guy Fisher survived a couple of chances to make his third century for Barrow, 102 including 2 sixes. He was ably supported by 15-year-old Ben Thorne who made 30 not out – his highest senior score. 189-5 looked a competitive total but a second wicket partnership of 129 between Ashley Davies and Mark Batchelor saw Kilmersdon home with 3 overs to spare.