Robinson guides leader Bartestree to another victory against Martley

Hereford Times: Bartestree & Lugwardine Cricket Club v Martley CC
Ben Simpkin batting for Bartestree & Lugwardine (7669835) Bartestree & Lugwardine Cricket Club v Martley CC Ben Simpkin batting for Bartestree & Lugwardine (7669835)

Bartestree and Lugwardine kept their Worcestershire County League Division Four title bid well on course after cruising to victory against Martley.

Skipper Ben Simpkin led the way with both bat and ball, with bowler Matt Ashcroft (4-43) and batsman David Robinson (55) helping the side to an eight-wicket win.

"We're 27 points clear of the second-placed side, Halesowen 3rd," said Robinson. "We have only lost one match and that was at Himbleton where we really let ourselves down by not making enough runs.

"One of the strengths that we have is the amount of runs we have now started to put together and we have a good batting side.

Two of the division's six matches failed to get underway due to the bad weather but the rain stayed away from Bartestree throughout the day giving the hosts the opportunity to extend their lead at the top.

After winning the toss, Martley elected to bat first on a good surface and looked to be setting a solid platform at 31-0 after nine overs.

But opening bowler Ashcroft broke the partnership when he removed Harry Taylor (11).

He then had Richard Birchley (21) trapped leg before wicket to put the pressure on the visitors.

Luke Sparrow was causing problems with his spin at the other end and picked up the wicket of number-three batsman Dom Jones (10).

"Luke is a very good cricketer," said Robinson. "He was outstanding last season when he was regularly scoring 50s and 60s.

"I think he has lost a bit of confidence with the bat and that spilled over into his bowling - he said a few weeks ago when the pitches were green but I told him to be patient and that the drier pitches, which would suit him, would come."

Tom Vale looked to be steadying the ship with 34 but was undone by a fine in-swinger from youngster Nick Fisher to leave Martley 111-5.

Skipper Simpkin came on to take two quick wickets before Ashcroft rounded the innings off with the last two scalps to bowl Martley out for 183 in 47.4 overs.

The 35 extras, which included 28 wides, were Martley’s top score.

In reply, Bartestree’s Sparrow perished for 24 having blasted six fours but Robinson came to the crease to strike 55.

The former Wormelow and Burghill & Tillington man has rediscovered his form this season after a very disappointing 2013.

"I was going in at six and seven and didn't really have enough time to get settled before I had to attack," he said.

"A couple of weeks back, I was put up to number three and it has worked well. The team seem to feel we are stronger with people batting around me."

When he was dismissed for a 53-ball 55, it was left to in-form Nick Frith to see the villagers home in partnership with skipper Simpkin.

Frith was following up two successive centuries and wasted no time in seeing his side to victory by lashing an unbeaten from just 15 balls, in partnership with Simpkin, who scored 48 not out.

"Nick has really hit form and he is a a good batsman," said Robinson.

"He has a very quick eye and picks the ball up very fast. He has come on really well this season.

"Ben Simpkin is a decent all-rounder - he opens the batting for us and bowls first or second change."

Bartestree now travel to Kidderminster on Saturday.

"Kidderminster are one of our rivals, as are Himbleton, but we're optimistic this season," said Robinson.

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