Croom with a few! First 50 earns win

Ryan Croom.
Ryan Croom.

After returning to winning ways against highly-placed Lindum last week, Boston Firsts made the trip to the seaside to take on struggling Skegness.

In a game that pitted ninth against 10th, it was crucial the Mayflower men got a result to pull them away from the relegation fight.

On arriving at Skegness, Boston handed a First XI debut to Damian Lawson, who was the only change to the side as Matthew Hood was unavailable.

The coin came down in favour of Ryan Croom and he had no hesitation in opting to bowl first on a pitch that looked like it could offer something for the bowlers.

“It was good to win a toss,” Croom said.

“Bowling first was quite straightforward. The pitch looked like it might be difficult to score and I felt that bowling first would give us the best chance of getting a result.”

Riley Orr and Paul Deans were the opening bowlers and both worked hard to restrict Skegness’ openers to limited scoring opportunities.

The first 10 overs only yielded 21 runs and it was the 11th over that saw Orr find the edge of Dylan Labuschagne’s bat, only to see the ball hit the turf and the chance disappear quickly.

However, only one ball later Orr found the outside edge of the bat and the ball went straight into the grateful hands of Tim Bell at backward point.

After that, Pradeep Chanditha and Jamie Epton tried to build another partnership and Boston had to be patient as they continued to make run-scoring difficult.

It was Bell who made the breakthrough, dismissing Chanditha for 21 after a catch from Lawson.

At 48-2 from 19, Boston would have fancied their chances of restricting Skegness to a reasonably low total.

Those hopes only improved when Deans removed Epton and Saeed Bariwala before the score could reach 50.

Another Skegness partnership started to blossom between Sean Chamberlain and Norman Brackley, but it was the experienced Deans who undid that hard work, removing Chamberlain after doing him in the flight and seeing the Skegness captain bowled for 21.

At 83-5 Boston knew they needed to continue the hard work and they did that through the efforts of Bell and Scott Elleray.

Bell removed Ray Jordan before Elleray’s pace rushed Thomas Cuthbert and Skegness were 121-7.

Orr’s return to the attack saw him bowl with discipline to pick up the final three wickets as Skegness were dismissed for 150 in the 47th over.

Skegness’ top scorer was Brackley, who scored 37 in a very sensible innings.

After the tea interval, Boston knew that if they were to chase down the 151 target, they would have to negotiate the pace of Skegness’ West Indian Jordan.

Jordan leads the wicket-takers in the Lincolnshire ECB Premier League with 46, his 46th being that of Kieran Evans when he found the edge and Chamberlain’s safe hands did the rest.

At that stage Boston were 25-1 and it had been a steady start.

Jonny Cheer joined Tom Poole but it wasn’t long until Poole was undone by the spin of Bariwala to leave Boston sitting on 39-2.

Cheer’s next partner was Liam Sparke and the pair worked hard to gradually push the scoreboard along and take Boston closer to their required target.

With Boston 66-2, Sparke mistimed a stroke that found the hands of the bowler and Brackley had his first wicket after a simple caught and bowled opportunity.

Boston still needed 85 runs to win and captain Croom joined Cheer at the crease and it was always going to be a crucial partnership.

Sidelines skipper Tom Baxter said: “When Croomy went out there, I knew it was always going to be a crucial partnership.

“I said to the lads that they had to get us past that 100 mark really.”

Baxter got more than he wished for as the pair took the game to the Skegness bowlers and carefully edged Boston closer to the winning total.

The spinners struggled to settle to Croom as he found the boundary with regularity.

At the other end, Cheer seemed unfazed, putting away the bad balls and looking in control of the good ones.

Cheer (64) passed 50 with Croom also adding his first half century of the season, reaching 52 as he found the boundary to seal Boston’s seven wicket victory.

Croom and Cheer’s partnership ensured that Boston picked up an invaluable 20 points to edge further away from the bottom three and close the gap on the teams above them.

The Man of the Match could have gone to four people, but Deans’ 3-39 from 17 overs and Orr’s 4-52 set up the victory and Cheer’s 62 not out saw Boston home.

But Croom’s 52 not out from 46 balls was the key innings.