Lincs ECB Premier
Alford & District CC 114, Boston 115-8 - Boston won by two wickets.
Boston made their first-ever trip to Alford for a Lincolnshire ECB Premier League fixture with a handful of players unavailable due to a variety of reasons.
With Pete Ward stepping in at late notice, he would become the second person in two weeks to make his top-flight debut for the Mayflower men.
“The last few weeks haven’t been ideal with selection and availability but the lads have all pulled together to pick up vital victories over both Woodhall Spa and Sleaford,” said skipper Tom Baxter.
At the toss, the coin fell in favour of Alford captain Tom White, and he had no hesitation in opting to bat first on a pitch that looked like it would suit thebatsman.
Scott Elleray and Tim Bell opened the bowling for Boston and Rikki Bovey was soon back in the pavilion after a smart catch from Elleray at point from the bowling of Bell.
Bell removed White for 16 before Baxter trapped his brother Andrew LBW and Alford were 36-3.
Michael Honman’s next partner was Neil Calvert and the pair re-built the innings and added 27 before Paul Deans removed Calvert after another smart catch, this time by Mahir Yousuff at mid-off.
With Honman going well at one end, he needed a partner to stay with him.
Justin Owen helped push the score to 84 before he fell to Fayadh Haffejee, who was returning from injury.
Deans removed Nick Bennett and Jake Hamilton to leave Alford 92-7 and end his 14 overs with wonderful figures of 3-29.
“He bowled brilliantly. He made it difficult for them to score and bowled lots of dot balls,” Baxter added.
A wicket each for Haffejee and Baxter saw Alford nine wickets down before a fantastic piece of fielding by Rowan Evans saw Alford’s last wicket fall to a run-out to leave Honman 49 not out after opening the batting.
“To be fair to Mike, he batted all the way through and really valued his wicket,” Baxter added.
“He was unfortunate that a few batsmen couldn’t build bigger partnerships with him.
“It was a top innings in the circumstances.”
With Alford’s innings ending 114 all out, Boston were in the box seat at the halfway stage.
Kieran Evans and Yousuff opened up for Boston and a 32-run partnership was the perfect start before Yousuff edged to second slip to be caught for 11.
Jon Cheer was next to fall, for six, again being caught by Bovey and again from the bowling of left-arm quick Bennett.
Bennett found the edge of Evans’ bat next and Boston were 56-3.
Evans was dismissed for 17.
It was here that Alford took control of the game.
Bovey’s introduction into the attack saw Boston lose Haffejee, Michael Musson, Rowan Evans and Ward and were struggling on 75-7.
With 40 runs still needed, Alford would have fancied their chances.
However, Baxter and Elleray dug in to forge an innings re-structuring to give Boston some hope.
A vital 23 run partnership followed where Elleray scored 17 from 18 balls.
“It was a vital innings. 17 doesn’t seem many but at that time, it was crucial for us if we were to have any chance,” added Baxter.
With 17 runs needed to win, Bell joined Baxter and - with a lot of patience and discipline the pair edged closer and closer before they passed Alford’s total in - the 34th over.
Bell’s four not out came off 31 balls and Baxter’s 18 not out from 42 balls.
The captain explained: “It was vital that Tim stuck around. It wasn’t easy out there but I knew Tim would have to get stuck in and he did exactly that.
“He made it look quite easy to defend really.”
Boston’s win saw them pick up 20 points which moved them up to seventh place in the Lincolnshire ECB Premier League.
“We’ve had a good run over the past three weeks,” added Baxter.
“We’ve picked up 58 points from 60 and moved ourselves well clear of the bottom two.
“We couldn’t really decide man of the match this week. It was difficult.
“The wickets were shared around and with the bat, Kieran (17), Scott (17) and myself (18 not out) all chipped in.
“Belly’s four not out was massively important too. He picked up two early wickets and stuck in when he needed to, so I’d give it to him.”