Firsts Hold Their Nerve In The Rain At Shirehampton

Barrow Gurney 1st XI won a thrilling encounter with Shirehampton 2nds on Saturday to move them out of the relegation zone of Division 4 of the Bristol & District League. Meanwhile the 2nd XI competed well but lost again and the 3rd XI experienced the harsh reality of the mixed standard of Sunday cricket.

For the firsts the week saw a particularly challenging selection due to the absence of key players, so the team had a bit of an unusual look and, while the conditions supported the decision, it was always likely that skipper James Riley on winning the toss would elect to bowl first. He and Paul Gard bowled a tidy opening spell that kept the opposition in check with Riley (2/22) picking up a wicket via a very sharp low chance taken one handed by Roger Finnimore who looked almost as surprised as the batsmen that it had stuck. Frank Forge (1/29), Kieron Owen, Gareth Ashley (1/22) and Oscar Livesey then backed up the start with good spells that were both economical and picked up crucial wickets so Shirehampton never got the upper hand or looked like posting a really intimidating score. In part this was down to Barrow’s bowling & fielding, in part down to some poor running and also the low bounce afforded by the pitch so shot making never looked easy. Frank bowled with great control giving nothing away and picked up his wicket as a result of the batsman’s frustration, Oscar produced his best performance of the season to date with the ball landing in the right areas a lot more frequently, so asking questions of the batsmen and was unlucky to go wicketless, Gareth found some good rhythm and was always threatening but the pick of the bunch was Kieron (2/34) who has started finding a really consistent line & length. Barrow were pleased to restrict Shirehampton to 162-6 off 45 overs. 

Roger Fiinimore and Ben Skuse after their excellent partnership last week, were tasked with trying to provide a similar platform this week, unfortunately there was to be no repeat as Roger fell early. Skuse was finding run scoring difficult against some accurate bowling but dug in and Ali Hood kept the score ticking along. Barrow progressed to drinks only 1 wicket down with the score on about 85 and things were looking very solid. With the heavens looking like they were going to open Barrow were able to accelerate the scoring rate to ensure they were ahead of the rate should the players have to go off. On a big ground with a slow outfield there were a lot of 2’s and even a few 3’s in the 100 run partnership for the 2nd wicket before the batsman ran out of steam with Ali Hood going for 56 and Skuse shortly afterwards for 28 but Barrow only needed about 40 by this stage so were red hot favourites.

Unfortunately they lost a number of wickets in quick succession and most of those were from poor game management – Shirehampton sensing that they needed to try to do something had gone back to their opening pair, who were accurate bowlers with a bit of movement but they only had a couple of overs each left so Barrow could afford to see them out and not take risks but several batsmen played unnecessarily aggressive shots and suddenly were 7 down. Thankfully Paul Gard & Frank Forge got Barrow to within 15 or so before Oscar Livesey joined Frank (15*) at the crease. Barrow then had an agonising 5 or 6 overs as they eked out the final runs, Frank playing some exquisite Chinese cuts, along with a couple of more conventional drives and Oscar treating us to the full repertoire of his eccentric calling & running, on his way to a very important 0 not out! Finally, with the scores tied and the rain pouring down the winning runs came via what else a leg side wide!

At Hobbs Lane, acting skipper, Mark Gracey won the toss and put Old Park 1st XI into bat. Melissa Owen (1/22) and Mike Lilley (1/15) opened the bowling and Mike picked up the wicket of Nowicki with the score on 6 after a sharp catch by Adam Brace which drew blood on his little finger. Mellisa then took her first 2nd team wicket by bowling Brooks with a ball that stayed low. Unfortunately, that is where Barrow’s early success ended as Sheppard went on to score 106 before being bowled by James Halliday (2/48)


After Old Park had posted 216/4 Barrow set about chasing the score down and Bernie Forge scored some swift boundaries with her new bat before being caught for 24 and James Halladay followed shorty for 6.  The wickets slowed the scoring rate substantially before Mark Gracey came in at 5, and when Pete Holdaway ended up falling for 39 Barrow eventually fell 32 runs short with Gracey remaining 61no.


On Sunday the 3rd XI came up a Whitchurch team who fielded quality batsmen of a much higher standard than seen so far in the North Somerset Conference Division 3. Bowling first Barrow had a beleaguered bowling attack with Luke Glazzard and Will Kerswell making their first appearances of the season and shaking off the rust, whilst Barrow’s two Under 13s, Leo Brace and Melissa Owen bowled really well up the hill bowling good line and length balls that unfortunately were often bludgeoned to the boundary by the unforgiving batsmen. Grant Ashley too bowled some exceptional deliveries and some exceptionally wide wades. Bernie Forge had a blinder behind the stumps to prevent countless extras. Cooper, having survived an extremely close LBW shout early on, and having damaged the Barrow Chairman’s car with one lusty blow, reached his hundred and then continued to delight in taking apart the inexperienced attack, finally retiring having passed his 150. Kerswell took the only wicket courtesy of a Rod Reeves catch at cover as Whitchurch progressed to 296 off 40 overs by depriving their young players of a chance to bat.

In reply a rather demoralised batting line up struggled losing early wickets, with only Bernie Forge (22) offering much resistance as the team folded for 93. The only amusement coming when a spectator wandered on to umpire and called a wide off a ball creamed through extra cover for 2.

This was a chastening lesson for the Sunday team who have been competitive in previous weeks but hopefully this week was an aberration!

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