Lincs ECB Premier
Woodhall Spa 1sts 223-9, Boston 1sts 216-5.
Jonny Cheer hit a century as Boston Cricket Club firsts edged themselves closer to safety in the Lincs ECB Premier.
In this eighth versus ninth battle at the Mayflower, only five points separated the two sides before the start of play.
Spa’s winning draw meant that by Saturday evening they sat seven points ahead of their opponents, but with three games of the season left Boston are 43 points and two places clear of Grimsby in the drop zone.
Boston captain, Tom Baxter returned to the side after his injury lay-off and won the toss.
He elected to bowl first and insert Woodhall Spa into bat, something which has worked for Boston over the past two weeks.
Prasanna Jayawardene and Jack Timby were Woodhall’s openers and they found the boundary regularly, that was until Jayawardene rocked back and managed to pull the ball straight to Riley Orr’s safe pair of hands at deep square leg.
Christopher Anderson joined Timby and looked to take an aggressive approach, but still the latter controlled the partnership with a fine array of shots around the wicket.
Baxter entered the attack in the 12th over to remove Anderson for eight and Woodhall were sat at 67-2.
Timby went to another half century before chipping one back to Paul Deans for a simple return catch. Timby’s 60 came off 64 balls.
Following that, Joe Irving managed to find the middle of the bat and swept Deans’ delivery straight to Saihan Azim, who took a sharp catch.
Woodhall Spa were 96-4 and at the halfway stage of the innings and Jack Luffman and Henry Wilson took the score to 99-4 from 25 overs.
Luffman and Wilson proved to be an innings-changing partnership as they found the gaps in the field.
Orr returned to the attack and came back with more wickets, dismissing Luffman (52), Wilson (28), Ross Dixon (11) and Tom Caswell (5).
Baxter said: “He’s bowled really well all year and not had much luck with the new ball, but he has come back on and bowled well in the middle overs and like today, at the death.”
Elleray entered the attack to remove Sam Cherry as Woodhall Spa ended their innings on 223-9 from their 50 overs.
After the interval, it was Boston old boy Paul Timby who got Woodhall off to a good start.
The opening bowler bowled tightly and made scoring really difficult for the opening pair of Kieran Evans and Tom Poole.
Evans was bowled by JP Prinsloo and Boston were 8-1.
Cheer entered the game and he and Poole pushed the scoreboard along.
Timby got his man when he removed Poole, bowling him for 23.
At 47-2, Liam Sparke joined Cheer and this partnership was going to be crucial as Boston needed runs and Woodhall needed to continue making it difficult to score.
In this partnership both sides achieved the above, as the pair managed to add 81 runs but the Woodhall bowlers slowed the scoring down and made it difficult for the Boston batsmen to get away.
The next 20 Boston runs saw them to 149, but at that point they had now lost five wickets, with Sparke, Ryan Croom and Azim back in the pavilion.
Baxter joined the impressive Cheer with nine overs to go, and they required 75 runs to win.
“At that point it was a case of Jon carrying on and doing what he was doing and I had to try and find the gaps and run hard,” the skipper said.
“We always seemed an over behind. We needed one more over and that’s what it felt like throughout those last nine.”
Boston pushed Woodhall all the way, and even into the last over, Boston still had a chance of snatching a victory.
Cheer’s impressive knock ended on 113 not out and Baxter ended 33 not out.
Boston’s seven-run deficit saw them pick up 11 points from the game in response to Woodhall’s 13.
“For them to work so hard to win the game and only pick up two more points than us doesn’t seem fair, but they are the rules in place and 11 points from a game that we didn’t win is a very good return,” Baxter said.
Boston’s matchball sponsor was Simon Elkington, who opted to give the man of the match award to Cheer for 113 not out as he went past 800 league runs in 2016.
Baxter added: “Jonny has scored runs in this league for years now and scores big runs for us, and he has certainly done that this year.”
Boston now sit 43 points ahead of the bottom two and seven points behind eighth-placed Woodhall Spa.
They are a further seven points behind Louth with only three games remaining.
In the last three games, Boston have taken 48 points, and Baxter will be looking for a similar return in their final three games.