WEPL Premier 1
Bath (240-9) beat Bridgwater (135ao) by 105 runs

BRIDGWATER’S tough start to their West of England Premier League campaign ended in defeat after a spirited performance saw their batting fall away as they suffered a 105-run defeat to Bath. 

The champions boast a star-studded line-up for 2017, but Bridgwater had the visitors stuttering in the early stages.

Somerset’s Tim Rouse was bowled by Kiwi Will Williams in the first over and, when Chris Skidmore removed Greg Hay, Bath were 2-2.

However, Gloucestershire professional George Hankins was in commanding form, rushing to his 50, and in partnership with Bath skipper James Campbell he repaired the early damage. 

Campbell (14) was caught in the deep off George Bartlett, and when Chris Singleton dismissed Tom Hankins Bath had fallen to 92-4.

Hankins (94) continued his own personal onslaught, but debutant off-spinner Tom Bevan swung the game back in Bridgwater’s favour by dismissing the dangerous Sam Mount and then Hankins in his first over to leave Bath stuttering at 135-6. 

Bevan (2-29) continued to bowl a superb spell of spin, and in tandem with an excellent spell by seamer Liam Redrup, Bridgwater were on top. 

But the visitors’ strength in depth was then evident as Paul Muchall, WEPL player of the season for the past two years, came in at number seven and alongside Lloyd Davies took the score past 200. 

Bridgwater’s returning pacemen Williams (3-30) and Skidmore (2-46) did well at the death, and a target of 240-9 was an excellent effort by Bridgwater.

At tea Bridgwater club caterer Vera Steed was presented with the WEPL hospitality award for 2016, a huge credit to her and her team.

The Bridgwater reply got off to a good start against the hostile Muchall and Adam Kelly, with Tom Lace and Merv Hallaran looking in good touch. 

Lace fell with the score on 30, but Somerset’s George Bartlett continued the Bridgwater momentum alongside his skipper and at 66-1 Bridgwater were well set. 

Tom Hankins was to get the crucial breakthrough, though, dismissing Hallaran (22) lbw, and with Bartlett (26) being caught at first slip off Davies in the very next over, the game had swung back towards the visitors. 

Chris Gange and Bevan both fell cheaply to Davies, and, though Todd Barrett (24) attempted to repair the damage alongside a brief cameo from Singleton (17), the ruthless Bath attack closed the game out with ease in the end as the home side were dismissed for 135.

On Saturday, Bridgwater look to bounce back away at Frocester (12.30pm).

The other three Bridgwater sides had also had mixed results as they got their respective seasons underway.

Bridgwater Pointers started their debut season in Somerset League Division 6 with a fine four-wicket win at Sparkford, chasing 228 for the victory. 

Will Kelly and Jordan Boobyer both picked up three wickets, and the match-winning stand was shared by Simon Ranson (72*) and Luke Caswell (63), who helped the Pointers to a superb win.

The 3rd XI came up against a very strong Shapwick and Polden 2nd XI, but picked up a useful 15 points in defeat, having been hampered by an injury to new skipper Mike Skidmore as early as the fourth over of the game. 

Shapwick rattled up 304, with two wickets apiece for Archie Marsh and Will Moyse. 

Moyse then continued his fine effort with a well-made 32, and Ben Whitemore made 30 in a spirited reply.

The 2nd XI suffered a disappointing day at the office with defeat at newly-promoted Temple Cloud by five wickets. 

Bridgwater only managed 107, and despite four wickets from seamer Dan Rossiter the home side got to the winning tally in relative comfort.

The club thank match travel sponsors Falcon Vehicle Solutions and Charles Dickens Estate Agents.