West of England Premier League Premier 1

Bridgwater 272-5 beat Bristol 244 by 28 runs

BRIDGWATER began their 2019 WEPL campaign with a fine 28-run victory away to Bristol on Saturday, writes Scott Sealey.

The visitors were put in to bat, and openers Merv Halaran (24) and Liam Kitch (41) set the tone for the innings with an 84-run opening stand.

This partnership was particularly crucial as the conditions were in favour of the Bristol seam attack, and gave the visitors a solid platform to build the rest of their innings.

Both openers fell within the space of three runs and this brought South African Jason Oakes (17) – who had only flown into Heathrow earlier that day – and Kent professional Calum Haggett to the crease.

Oakes looked to have plenty of time and hit the boundary on three occasions before he edged to slip, which saw drinks come with the visitors 110-3.

Stu Butt (14) joined Haggett and the pair shared a useful stand of 36 before Haggett (38) found another ally in former Bridgwater skipper Steve Davis, as they took the score to 197 when Haggett fell, trying to up the scoring rate.

With Bridgwater looking to post a score in the vicinity of 250, Max Waller immediately set about the Bristol attack, peppering the boundary all around the wicket, in a fine innings that accelerated the scoring and allowed Bridgwater to post an imposing 272-5, with a feature of the unbroken partnership of 75 being the hard running between the wickets.

Davis finished on a fine 33no from 47 balls, but it was Waller’s 58no from only 25 balls, including seven fours and two sixes, that gave the innings real impetus.

After tea the Bridgwater seamers didn’t hit their straps initially, and Bristol got off a flier of a start with opener Jack Penn reaching 50 off 41 balls.

Chris Singleton made the breakthrough when he had Lisle Durrans (13) trapped lbw for 13, and the introduction of the Bridgwater spinners saw them wrestle back control of the game, with off-spinner Andrew Skidmore bowling particularly well.

Waller snapped up two key wickets in Penn and Gloucestershire professional Will Tavere, and when Davis dismissed Kiwi professional Josh Tasman-Jones, the game was back in the balance at 124-4.

Another wicket for Waller saw him finish with impressive figures of 3-15 from his 10 overs, but Bristol’s fifth-wicket partnership of Louie Shaw and Sheridan Leech repaired the damage with a 79-run stand that kept the home side in the game.

However, Bridgwater held their nerve as Singleton (2-55) and Dan Rossiter bowled excellent returning spells, and Davis (2-45), Andrew Skidmore (1-35) and Chris Skidmore (2-58) finished off the home innings with some clinical death bowling to give Bridgwater a deserving victory, setting them up for the season.

Match ball sponsors: TMB Patterns Ltd; match travel sponsors: Charles Dickens Estate Agents & Falcon Vehicle Solutions

This coming Saturday, Bridgwater host title favourites Bath Cricket Club at the Parks (12.30pm start).

n ELSEWHERE at the weekend, Bridgwater’s 3rds and Pointers XIs both picked up very good eight-wicket wins.

The 3rd XI hosted Division 3 champions Trull, who posted a competitive 224 all out from their 45 overs with Michael Skidmore and Tim Hill picking up two wickets apiece, and Kieran Windsor picking up 1-24 in a tidy spell.

In reply, Tim Netto made a fine undefeated 120 not out to see his side home with 10 balls to spare.

Netto shared fine stands with Skidmore (19) and Dom Court (20), before an undefeated partnership with the excellent Rhys Hayward (52no).

At Temple Cloud a young Pointers side did extremely well in restricting the home side to 163 all out.

Somerset Women’s Tilly Bond led the way with 2-24 from seven overs, and she was superbly supported by Freddie Brewer (2-38) and Simon Keith (2-32).

The Pointers innings was led by the talented Ted Kelly, who anchored the innings with a fine 75 not out, supported by skipper Keith (63no) to see the Pointers home with overs to spare.

Bridgwater 2nds' Ian Higgins achieved a remarkable feat against Chard on Saturday -

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