Bartestree go top as promotion remains the goal

Hereford Times: Calling the shots, Bartestree batsmen Ben Simpkin (left) and Kieran Smith (centre) during their game against Claverlee, at Bartestree on Saturday.

Photo Chas Breton. (6718597) Calling the shots, Bartestree batsmen Ben Simpkin (left) and Kieran Smith (centre) during their game against Claverlee, at Bartestree on Saturday. Photo Chas Breton. (6718597)

ONLY promotion will satisfy Bartestree & Lugwardine Cricket Club this season.

The villagers are in their second season in Division Four of the Worcestershire County League and have set their sights on going higher.

"Last season, we lost too many games early on," said skipper Ben Simpkin. "And we failed narrowly to go up."

This time, the object is to gain promotion and anything else will not be good enough."

Last Saturday, a crushing 172-run home success over Shropshire side Claverley helped Bartestree to leap-frog their rivals and moved the Herefordshire cub to the top of the table.

But the home side had to survive a tricky start after being put into bat before reaching their eventual 332 all out.

Simpkin, the prolific Luke Sparrow and Jack Summerside were all back in the pavilion with just 52 on the board.

"Last season, Luke and I were the top run-scorers but we've struggled to get runs this season," admitted Simpkin. "But I'm very happy to see some of the others step up."

On Saturday, it was teenager Kieran Smith and Nick Frith who led the way in a partnership of 127 for the fourth wicket.

"Kieran is at the Royal Grammar School in Worcester and plays when his school commitments allow," said Simpkin. "Nick is my vice-captain and he was due a big score.

"It was his first century for the first team and I am delighted for him."

Smith stroked 15 fours in his innings of 86 which came from only 91 balls.

But Frith's stroke-play was even more vigorous as he faced just 86 balls on his way to 123, cracking 16 fours and a six in a fine innings.

"The biggest hitting of the day was yet to come, however, as Russell Barnett, arriving at the crease at number seven, smashed his way to 58 off only 31 balls, six off which went to the boundary and three cleared it.

"Russell hit some massive sixes," said Simpkin. "It was a real shock to be clapping his 50 - he only seemed to have been in a few overs."

Brothers Matt (17) and Marcus Ashcroft (10 not out) added 29 for the last wicket with some more quick-fire action before the Bartestree innings closed with nine balls still remaining.

Claverley openers Tom Grainger (30) and Graham Cull (37) posted 53 for the visitors' first wicket.

But the introduction of first-change bowlers Matt Ashcroft (2-31) and Simpkin started the slide.

The skipper finished with the excellent figures of 5-28 from just 6.2 overs as the Shropshire men were dismissed for 160.

""I was a bit reluctant to bowl myself," admitted Simpkin. "But it looked like the sort of pitch which might help it.

"It was nice to do something," he joked.

Next week sees the resumption of the win/lose/draw system after the opening sequence of win/lose fixtures.

"We have preferred the win/lose system," said Simpkin. "Last season, we showed that we can chase down big targets and we were unbeaten in the second half of the season.

"Now we just have to keep on doing what we are doing and winning as many games as we can.

"We have quite a young side and we have been settled in our selection so far with eight or nine regulars each week and a couple to fill in around them.

"We are happy with the way we've gone so far but we're not yet delighted."

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