Bradninch 2nd XI produced arguably their collective best performance of this – and many recent –seasons as they saw off visiting Thorverton II in some style at Kensham Park.
It comes as no surprise that, with the strongest 2nd XI fielded to date this term, the side – skippered by Paul Nott – brushed aside the challenge of a team bidding for one of the top two berths in the final table.
Oh how different the 2nd XI B Division table might look if the Ninch 2nds had been able to send this XI into battle in more of the 9 matches they have played so far this league season.
It was the visiting skipper who won the toss and wasted no time in opting to bat first. The wicket looked another run-laden one.
Skipper Nott opened with Max Cooper from the tennis court end and Will Greig from the roller end and the first wicket was claimed with just 19 in the score board – Connor Carthew pouching a catch at first slip off a lively delivery from teenager Cooper. Ten runs were added when Cooper struck for the second time – this time bowling the Thors’ number three.
Will Greig was next to strike, claiming a wicket in his fourth over to leave the Thors 33-4 and, once again it was a catch behind, this time by glovesman Thom Bunker.
Nine overs in it was 40-4 as Cooper, bowling as well as he has ever done (much of that clearly down to time spent with the club’s Australian import this summer – Matt Foster – who has been a great asset in the nets with the younger players) who picked up a third wicket with fellow teen – Thom Bunker – pouching his second catch of the day.
Will Birley was introduced as first change at the tennis court end and with Luke Wrightson called into action at the opposite end – not for the first time this season – the pair immediately put a stranglehold on proceedings.
Indeed, Birley sent down his nine overs, serving up four maidens and going for just seven single runs! He also claimed a wicket with Paul Nott holding a catch above his head at mid-off.
That Birley wicket left Thorverton 73-5 after 27 overs – but the sixth wicket saw the score well past 150, finally being snared by Cooper, who celebrated getting four wickets in a senior XI for the first time with another catch held by the skipper.
Cooper claimed his fifth – and the seventh of the game with a return catch before Ryan Shrewsberry got his wicket, caught by a player you simply could not keep out of the action – Max Cooper.
Fittingly, it was Cooper who rounded things off with the ninth and final wicket to be taken – the finally delivery of the innings being edged to wicketkeeper Thom Bunker, who claimed his third catch of the innings.
Cooper led the side off at the interval with Thorverton 179-9 at the end of their 45 overs and Cooper’s return – a career best to date of six wickets for 42 runs from nine overs.
Will Birley also deserves mention. His nine overs from the tennis court end going for those seven runs – the other 14 overs from that end going for 76 runs.
Luke Wrightson sent down a full nine – he went for 10 in a single over – which rather spoiled an otherwise economical return of 34 runs from his spell.
Will Greig finished with 1-25 from nine and Ryan Shrewsberry’s return was 1-52 from nine while Vinny Clark also sent down an over (0-8).
After a splendid tea served up by ‘Mrs and Miss’ Bunker (Thom’s Mum and sister), Ninch set about making short work of the run chase. Skipper Nott and Will Greig launched the reply and they raced along to 74 before Greig fell to a stumping for a 39-ball 31.
Nott followed soon after – but not before he had hit a 58-ball half century – being particularly brutal to the 11th over when he crashed five successive fours off an opening bowler who had previously sent down four overs for just 10 runs!
Thom Bunker and Connor Carthew then took on the run chase, adding 66 in even time before Bunker fell for 55-ball knock of 31. That was as good as it got for the high-flying Thors as Bryn Jones joined Connor Carthew and the pair eased Ninch to a seven wicket win with seven overs remaining. Carthew ended not out 41 from 44-balls with three fours and a six. Jones – making a welcome return after a couple of weeks out with a finger injury sustained at Chudleigh – was unbeaten on seven at the close and Ninch 2nds trooped off feeling much happier with life.
If only a similar XI could be fielded every week!