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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

Tense and exciting victory

1st XI
Birmingham League Division Three
Aston Manor 192-5 (22 overs)
Lichfield 187-6 (22 overs)

This tense and exciting victory leaves Aston Manor’s destiny in their own hands as they now sit one point above the last relegation place with one game to play.

A win next week at already promoted Pershore will guarantee another season in the Birmingham League for the Perry Barr based club.

They will however have to travel without ex England star Phillip DeFreitas who was injured in the warm up to this game. Fortunately the 2nd XI game had already been called off and Manor were able to replace DeFreitas with one of their 2nd XI players who had stayed at the Club to support the team.

The match was restricted to 22 overs per team and Manor’s very competitive total of 192-5 was built almost entirely around a superb 4th wicket partnership of 140 between Shaun Findlay (82) and George Findlay (58). Both players were excellent in their game management and shot selection and it was only left to reflect that had this application been shown by Manor’s batsmen throughout the season on a more regular basis then they would not now be finding themselves in their current predicament.

To their credit Lichfield, led by a fine innings from Adam Braddock (61), took the hosts all the way to the last ball before victory was secured. Manor were much more focused in the field than recent weeks with Imran Khan (3-25) along with youngsters Sahal Malvernkar and Kieran Carroll impressing.

It is just to be hoped that this improvement can be continued next week in a very tough looking final game of the season.

The pressure is on

1st XI
Birmingham League Division Three
Brewood 146-6
Aston Manor 99 all out

Aston Manor will now have to win their remaining two games to avoid relegation back to the Warwickshire League after a dreadful performance lacking in character against fellow strugglers Brewood.

Persistent rain throughout the morning meant a late start and the match being reduced to 25 overs per team.

Manor asked Brewood to bat first but some wayward bowling contributed to the visitors getting off to a flying start reaching 40 for no loss from the first four overs. Despite a very sloppy fielding performance, spinners Shaun Findlay (3-15) and George Findlay (2-31) clawed Manor back into the game as Brewood were ultimately restricted to 146-6.

Knowing that a victory would have almost secured Manor’s place in the League for next season it was expected that the batsmen would bat accordingly chasing a reasonably modest total. Unfortunately it was just the reverse. Apart from 15 year old Sahal Malvernkar (28) none of the batsman displayed the required application. A completely inept performance saw Manor bowled out in only 20 overs, with nine of the batsmen getting out caught all trying to play big shots. With less than a run per ball required this showed a complete lack of understanding or appreciation of the game.

2nds win thriller

2nd XI
Birmingham League Division Two (South)
Streetly 252-7
Aston Manor 258-6

Manor were involved in another thriller on Bank Holiday Monday, but this time came out as winners with only one ball remaining. In a match where tempers threatened to boil over, Streetly’s total of 252-7 was built around an unbeaten century from Mubassar Ali. Kieran Carroll (2-44), Avon Turner (2-50), Shaun Carroll (1-31), Junior Johnson (1-34) and Tanvir Imran (1-45) were the wicket takers.

Manor’s reply didn’t get off to a good start, but a brilliant partnership between Junior Johnson (113no) and Tanvir Imran (57no) saw Manor home to a thrilling victory with one ball remaining. Johnson in particular was in imperious form, but the support he received from Imran in his first game at this level was also very impressive.

Close match against Stourbridge

2nd XI
Birmingham League Division Two (South)
Aston Manor 230-7
Stourbridge 231-9

Although this was a close and exciting encounter, Manor will be kicking themselves for not securing victory. Waqas Younis (64), Adam Nevitt (40), Avon Turner (34no) and Trent Turner (30) all made good contributions in posting a competitive total of 230-7 from the allotted 45 overs. Excellent bowling from youngsters Ridoan Asselman (4-30) and Avon Turner (2-36) seemed to have set Manor up for victory, but sloppy cricket gave the visitors the opportunity to recover and on the back of a fine innings from Ali Rashid (71) they scrambled home to an unlikely one wicket victory.

Streetly win by 4 wickets

1st XI
Birmingham League Division Three
Aston Manor 204 all out
Streetly 209-6

On Monday, Manor made the short journey to Briar Avenue to take on their local rivals Streetly who are enjoying a successful season. This proved to be a very intriguing encounter with the hosts securing victory with only 7 balls remaining. Manor batted first, and a fine opening partnership between in-form Byron Wyngard (58) and Tom Caulfield (23) seemed to have set Manor up for an imposing total. However, although Shaun Findlay (22) and Phillip DeFreitas (17) both got starts and looked commanding neither were able to go on and make the major contribution required. Sam Bates (3-45) was always a threat with the ball, and the gentle medium pace of Craig Moore (3-22) also tied Manor down on a slow and low wicket. The visitors were indebted to some late aggressive hitting by Imran Khan (26) to see them to 204 before they were finally dismissed in the 50th over.

When defending a below par total it is vitally important to accept every opportunity that comes along to take a wicket. Unfortunately Manor were guilty of spilling three important chances, especially dropping Streetly’s overseas player Audey Alexander before he had reached double figures. Alexander was finally dismissed for 50 in a steady batting performance from the hosts which saw Sean Dunne contribute 42, Matt Hinton 37 and Akhar Ahmed 34. Manor’s bowling was tight hey were never quite able to take that extra wicket to really exert pressure on Streetly. As the old saying goes, catches win matches, and in close games like this it never more so true. Returning from injury, Arslan Shahid (3-34) was very impressive with Shaun Findlay (2-46) and George Findlay (1-7) taking the other wickets.

Weather intervenes

1st XI
Birmingham League Division Three
Aston Manor 121 all out
Newport Did not bat

On Saturday their away fixture at Newport had already been reduced to 30 overs per side before further torrential rain saw the match abandoned in-between innings.

Despite a fine 52 from Byron Wyngard the visitors had been bowled out for only 121 in 27 overs. In such difficult batting conditions there was however a thought that this may well have been a defendable total.

Massive turnaround for the 2nds

2nd XI
Birmingham League Division Two (South)
Handsworth 316-5 (45)
Aston Manor 267-3 (37 )

Despite the extremely difficult conditions Manor’s bowling and fielding performance was nevertheless dreadful. Of the bowlers, only Trent Turner (2-43) and Shaun Carroll (1-47) came out with any credit and no fewer than 7 catches were put down in the field as the hosts ended on 316-5 from their full 45 overs.

After some heavy rain the visitors were set a revised total of 267 from 39 overs.

Manor’s disposition was not improved with the dismissal of both openers cheaply. However, from this point fortunes changed for the Perry Barr based side. A brilliant partnership between Adam Nevitt (129 no) and Shozab Haider (61) turned the game for the first time in their favour. Haider looked in good order and gave great assistance to Nevitt who gave a quite superb exhibition of stroke-play all around the wicket. Andrew Forman then smashed a belligerent and unbeaten 27 to help ensure that Manor reached their target with 2 overs still to spare. It was an amazing turnaround in a game in which Manor had always been second best before Nevitt and Haider’s fantastic partnership.

Disappointing result against Handsworth

1st XI
Birmingham League Division Three
Handsworth 289-6
Aston Manor 201 all out

Aston Manor’s recent run of improved results came to an abrupt end with an abject display at Church Road.

Manor were poor in all three disciplines of the game as Handsworth ran out comfortable victors.

The visitors total was built around an excellent knock from Mavarick Perry (98). Dwayne Crossgill (60) gave him good support and Bevon Brown (48no from 29 balls) provided late impressive impetus.

James Harris (1-41) was the pick of a very disappointing bowling performance from Manor although in their defence the bowlers received little support from a dreadful fielding performance. Imran Khan (2-46), Sahal Malvernkar (1-41) and Shaun Findlay (1-47) were the other wicket takers.

Manor’s reply got off to an encouraging start with Shaun Findlay (39) and Byron Wyngard (26) ensuring the hosts were always up with or ahead of the asking rate. Phillip DeFreitas (71) continued the good work with a class innings and the run rate required never looked a problem. However, Manor just kept on losing wickets with some quite reckless batting. The requirement was for a batsman to knuckle down and occupy the crease in partnership with DeFreitas, but unfortunately no one was able to do that and Manor were dismissed for a disappointing 201 with 12 overs still remaining!

Depleted 2nds lose

2nd XI
Aston Manor 226-9
Eastnor 227-4

A heavily depleted Manor side were well beaten under the shadow of the impressive Eastnor Castle.

All of Manor’s top five batsman got starts but only Adam Nevitt (63) and Abdul Rahim (61) were able to make significant contributions with both players batting extremely well. Unfortunately the other three, Trent Turner (20), Shozab Haider (20) and Waqas Younis (16), all looked in decent form but were unable to convert their starts, and once they were all dismissed Manor struggled badly and were restricted to a below par 226-9.

The hosts had no problem overhauling that total for the loss of only four wickets which were shared between Craig Reynolds, Avon Turner, James Rumsby and Trent Turner.