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Rain stops Manor from kick starting their season

Any hopes that Aston Manor had of kick starting their season after a series of disappointing results were thwarted by the weather at Church Road on Saturday. Manor had reached 37-1 from 6 overs against Coleshill before steady and persistent rain caused the match to be abandoned.

Manor’s 2nd xi game away at Rowland United was also abandoned without a ball being bowled.

It had been hoped to build on an encouraging mid week victory at Church Road against Old Edwardians in the League 20/20 competition. In a match reduced to 12 overs per side unbeaten half centuries from David Yeend and Craig Reynolds saw Manor close on 127-1. Despite a positive start from the visitors the hosts spin bowlers pegged Old Edwardians back who finished on 112-8. Shaun Findlay grabbed four wickets, Trent Turner three and Junior Johnson the other.

Manors problems this season have eminated from losing eleven of last years 1st Xi squad and only being able to so far bring in four replacements. Six of the players have left the Club, one retired and the other four have been unavailable due to work, university or family commitments. In fact throughout the Club no fewer than 34 regular players from the 2016 season were not available for selection this weekend for one reason or another!

This stresses the importance of rebuilding the youth system at the Club and restoring it to its former status.

Encouraging signs are being seen at Youth Coaching sessions on a Friday night, but a period of rebuilding and stability is required at Senior level before the fruits of these improvements can be borne.

It could be a long process, but the seeds of recovery are being sowed.

Depleted Manor side struggle

2nd XI
Division Four
Oakfield 1st XI : 244-9
Aston Manor 2nd XI : 139 all out

A depleted Aston Manor side were no match for Oakfield at Church Road.

Without their usual opening bowling attack, Manor were put to the sword as the visitors cruised to 80-0 from only 10 overs!

Skipper Trent Turner (3-38) and Steve Knowles (2-36) both did an excellent job to bring the hosts back into the match as did young 13 year old debutant Jude Hucknoll as Oakfield were finally restricted to 244-9.

Normally that would be a total Manor would be very confident of chasing down at Church Road. However, at the moment this is a completely different batting line up to last season and once Tanvir Imran had been dismissed for 53 Manor slumped from 105-4 to 139 all out.

Hopefully availability will improve over the coming weeks or it could be a very long and hard season for Manors 2nd XI.

Promising start

Warwickshire League
1st XI
Premier Division
Aston Manor CC: 196 all out
Hampton & Solihull CC: 113 all out

Aston Manors attempt to return to the Birmingham League at the first time of asking got of to a promising start with an ultimately comfortable victory away to Hampton & Solihull.

The prospect of victory however looked anything but comfortable when a combination of some dreadful running between the wicket and irresponsible stroke play saw the visitors reduced to 54-5. Manors new professional, Recordo Gordon, decided that the best form of recovery was to attack, and that he did with great effect. The ex-Warwickshire man smashed the ball to all parts of the ground with a belligerent and exciting innings of 109 from only 84 balls. Aaron Toora (25) offered him solid support as Manor were finally dismissed for a competitive total of 196 coming from only 35 overs.

Gordon is of course predominantly known as a bowler and a superb quick and aggressive opening spell of 3-19 left the hosts reply in tatters. Chris Hughes (70) was the mainstay of Hampton & Solihulls innings but further wickets for Shaun Findlay (3-13), Russell Guy (2-11), Craig Reynolds (1-5) and Imran Khan (1-16) meant that a second spell was not required from Manors talisman as they cruised to a convincing victory.

Overall an encouraging start, but more discipline will definitely be required in the batting department if a genuine promotion push is to become a reality.

Final Versus Nuneaton at Elford

Aston Manor lined up for their first Warwickshire Cricket League Over 40s final with a strong team despite several absences from the semi-final side: Chris Wooding, captain, David Bond, Simon Bowen, Matt Buttle, Jason Furnell, Ian Hudson, Ali Mahmood, Loky Perera, Martin Rose, Shashi Thakor and David Woakes. Hudson got the Manor off to a good start, hitting two boundaries in the opening over, and continuing to run ones and twos as well as further boundaries around all parts of the ground. Bowens four elegantly struck leg-side sixes added to his six fours before being caught on 69 with five overs remaining. Furnell then quickly continued the high run-rate with regular boundaries, ending on 28 not out. Hudson was eventually run out, also for 69, on the penultimate ball of the innings. 21 wides helped add to the impressive 193-2 total off 18 overs. Opening bowlers Bond and Rose restricted Nuneaton mainly to singles in their opening two overs apiece, supported by a well-set field hindering boundaries. The first wicket fell in the third over when Bond had dangerous Nuneaton batsmen Caratella caught by Woakes at cover. Mahmood then also bowled economically, and Woakes second ball resulted in a Thakor catch at backward point. Woakes next over included an agile overhead catch by Perera at midwicket, which was surpassed by his outstanding extra-cover catch in the 11th over as Nuneaton stood at 65. The later introduction of Thakor again showcased his accurate economic off-spin and wicket taking. This included a high class mid-on boundary catch from Buttle, picking out a hard hit drive with ease in the severely fading light. Rose returned to take a further wicket, and in the same over a run out typified the Manors high standard of fielding. Nuneaton were always behind the run rate as strong starts by batsmen who looked capable of challenging the total were soon halted. Later Nuneaton runs from two final participatory overs took them to 142-8. Victory led to Chris Wooding collecting the Over 40s first trophy, which will be on display at Church Road for a year. The night was by far the Manors most outstanding all-round batting, bowling and fielding performance to date. With a number of additions to the squad following early season difficulties in assembling teams, the Over 40s look forward to 2017 with a realistic aim of winning the league stage. Friendlies including interclub nights should help ensure an overall balance of competitive cricket and player participation.

Versus Nuneaton

In the seasons final league game, Nuneatons openers struggled to get Aurrel Kirnons accurate four overs of pace away, and lost their first wicket in the seventh over. Several of the visitors batsmen made threatening starts but as soon as boundaries became more regular, David Bond, Jason Furnell and Shashi Thakor took key wickets. Together with excellent fielding, this helped restrict the total to 149-6 off 20 overs. The Manors 152-2 response was reached in the 12th over, at 13 runs per over. Simon Bowens 11 led to Jason Furnells 27, with Austen Imber hitting 104 not out including nine sixes and nine fours. A special mention is due to Chris Woodings efforts in re-establishing a full squad and overcoming Over 40s survival doubts. In 2017, weekly friendlies and league games from May to July will better ensure player participation, in particular batting, than has been possible in a season badly affected by weather and opponents conceding games.

Versus Walmley

The Over 40s returned to Walmey looking to add to the two out of two away league victories to date. The debut of Matthew Buttle was welcomed together with the news of Barry Holbutts call up to the Warwickshire Over 70s. Tight opening bowling from Dave Bond and Martin Rose was followed by excellent off-spin from Jason Furnell and Shashi Thakor. Walmley were forced into mainly ones and twos with only intermittent boundaries on a more challenging slow worn pitch than the usual high class batting friendly surface, closing on 107-5 from 20 overs. Having raced to 45-1 off five overs in reply, well in excess of the required run rate, a rain interval led to abandonment.

Versus Four Oaks

Ian Hudson (38), Simon Bowen (48) and Chris Wooding (10 not out) helped the Manor reach 124-4 on a slow pitch affected by the recent rain. Four Oaks started slowly in reply as Martin Rose went for only 17 in his excellent opening four overs, and David Bond later conceded only six runs from two overs. Later boundaries helped Four Oaks to victory at 125-3 with one over remaining.

Versus Water Orton

The first league game saw Manor opener Ian Hudson hit regular boundaries before retiring on 63. Simon Bowen (20), Jason Furnell (29) and Aurrel Kirnon (20 not out) took the score to 156-3. Water Ortons hard-hitting opener ensured the run-rate presented a tight finale, as he retired with five overs remaining, having been held back only by Shashi Thakors outstanding teasing off-spin. Intermittent economical overs and the fall of two wickets combined with regular boundaries, as the hosts secured victory with two balls remaining.

Aston Manor Saturday 3rd XI vs Ant Rose Select XI

The seasons opening friendly against an Antony Rose XI started slowly as tight bowling from Trent Turner and Tanvir was difficult for the Over 40s to get away on a slow pitch. The run rate then increased with five Austen Imber sixes in his 50 retired and Simon Bowens 16. Rob Bartlett retired on 12, and Chris Woodings 24 retired included a straight six into the park. David Bond and John Page took the total to 131-4. Tanvir finished with three wickets, and Rikesh Patel bowled an impressive four overs. Joe Griffiths got the visitors off to a good start with several boundaries, but was then held back by Martin Rose and Ian Hudson before retiring on 35. Mark Christian hit a quick 36 retired and Trent Turner placed the ball round the field for 17 retired. Ant Rose and Reece Murray took the reply to 131-3 in the fading light.

Crushing defeat sends Manor down

1st XI
Birmingham League Division Three
Pershore 205 all out
Aston Manor 72 all out

This crushing defeat to already promoted Pershore confined Aston Manor to relegation from the Birmingham League.

So what went wrong for one of the pre season favourites for promotion?

Having just missed out on climbing to Division Two last season Manor added highly recommended South African Byron Wyngard, strike bowler Arslan Shahid and ex England international Phillip DeFreitas to their already impressive squad.

Unfortunately it was the one player they lost from last season who proved the difference. Indian Rahul Bakshi was denied a Visa at the eleventh hour and Manor never replaced his 1,000 runs and the confidence his consistent performances gave the rest of the squad. Throw into the equation his 35 wickets as well and his loss cannot be over emphasised.

Wyngard, a very likable lad, was unable to show any consistency with the bat to give the other players the confidence to bat around him. Three or four quality innings during the season was not enough.

Shahid was a massive disappointment. Early season he showed his undoubted talent, but a niggling injury and questionable attitude saw Manor leave him out of their side toward the end of the season.

Phil DeFreitas was unable to bowl as much as anticipated due to injuries, and although he was Manor’s most consistent batsman his overall impact wasn’t as great as originally hoped.

The lack of consistency in the performance of their top three players definitely affected the confidence of the remainder of the squad and none of them really performed to the same level as they had in the previous season with Bakshi in the side.

Saturday’s defeat showcased all of the problems throughout the season. In the absence of a genuine strike bowler Pershore were able to get off to a flying start and Manor’s attempts to claw themselves back into the game were hampered by poor ground fielding and dropping important catches. Byron Wyngard (4-21) bowled superbly at the end of the innings with Imran Khan (3-38) giving him admirable support. This was however a wicket to suit spin bowling and James Harris (10-1-23-1) was definitely the pick of Manor’s three spin options.

Manors reply never really got going. Only Shozab Haider (27) reached double figures in a feeble total of 72 all out. Yet again, nine players were out caught, most trying to play extravagant shots. No application, no confidence and no belief. Too many players only want to hit boundaries and don’t seem to be prepared to work hard and try to rotate the stike. A legacy maybe of watching too much 20/20 Cricket? Pershore have an excellent home record on their wicket which is prepared to suit their spin attack and Matthew Brace (4-12) proved unplayable for the Manor batsmen.

Onto next season, and a lot of thought and hard work will have to go into building a squad with the correct attitude and application to hopefully launch a promotion push back to the Birmingham League