Clevedon finish with a flourish at Dial Hill

PUBLISHED: 14:22 30 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:22 30 August 2017

Marc Lezar.

Marc Lezar.

Archant

Clevedon finished its home fixtures with a comfortable 119-run victory over Bridgwater.

Clevedon 248

Bridgwater 130

A chastened Piers McBride from Dial Hill

Following my ill-advised assertion in last week’s column that the gap in standard between Clevedon’s first and second eleven players was high, wide and not so handsome, I really came a cropper this time around.

Due to circumstances of availability, the selectors for this match found themselves short of an opening batsman, a pace bowler and a qualified exponent in the art of prestidigitation, a leg-spinner.

So of course, where did they turn? Yes, you’re right, the promotion-chasing second eleven, and which three players combined to make this self-opinionated scribe eat his words? Right again, the three cricketers who made the step up to play major roles in this emphatic victory over their relegation threatened opponents.

It’s hard to believe, but skipper Jacob Lintott won the toss for the 16th time out of 17 and he had no hesitation in opting to bat first and he, together with young second eleven regular Ben Keysell, duly strode out to take on Bridgwater’s highly-regarded opening attack.

The pair did not hang about and Ben, 20 from 27 deliveries, thumped three sumptuous boundaries while sharing in an enterprising opening stand of 72 in just 10 overs with his captain at which point Somerset legend Alphonso Thomas entered stage right.

In no time he had Ben caught behind and then followed up by trapping skipper Lintott lbw for a run-a-ball 58.

Eye-catching Marc Lezar, looked a class apart in making 29, three fours and a six, before he had his middle stump uprooted by Thomas, but by now Clevedon had reached 146-5 with 25 overs remaining.

It quickly became 146-6 as the busy Thomas trapped Will Carpenter leg before first ball, but Jake Rowe prevented the hat-trick before entering in to a lucrative partnership of 67 with a fully focused Andrew Solomons. Andy made 45, seven fours, and Jake 22, before Will Plummer and Tabish Khan combined for a frenetic last couple of overs which resulted in a hastily scampered 29 runs.

At last a meaningful total and some sensible batting throughout the innings. Nothing came easy as the visitors contested every run and Alphonso Thomas epitomised Bridgwater’s determination with figures of four for 22 from his 10 top quality overs, a masterclass which was begrudgingly applauded by the rather parochial gathering of experts on the Balcony.

Skipper Lintott pulled a rabbit out of the hat by opening the bowling with left-arm spinner Jake Rowe and the move paid off immediately as run reapers Hallaran and Witts were clean bowled for a combined total of just six.

Solomons rearranged the furniture of Coombes for five at which point a bustling Tabish Khan cleaned out the classy Gange for 26 before holding on to a fiercely struck drive to get rid of Alphonso Thomas for just eight.

Leg-spinner Andrew Payne bowled 10 faultless overs to starve the rather bewildered middle order of runs to claim 1-32. Tabish picked up two more vital wickets to finish with 4-26 while skipper Lintott terminated a rather annoying stand of 50 by having Redrup stumped by Will Plummer for 20 and one ball later he had keeper Pople bang to rights in front to close out the innings.

As stumps were finally drawn Clevedon’s scoring guru Paul Whyte had no hesitation in naming young Tabish Khan as the man of the match.

An excellent all-round performance and one which reflected Clevedon’s quite astonishing season long run of success. In addition to winning the B&D KO Cup, Jacob Lintott and his squad have beaten every side in the league on their way to finishing runners-up to Bath, who incidentally came a cropper against relegation-haunted Downend on Saturday.

For me things went not quite so well as during the afternoon, I found myself castigated by a rather fiery Scottish lady for failing to spell her son’s name correctly, following which I was forced to face the ire of a succession of spectators who had not received their copy of the North Somerset Times this week until Thursday and demanded that I did something to speed up delivery in future.

There is still one more round of matches to be played this coming weekend and Clevedon will visit Downend, who are still deep in trouble despite beating the champions elect. Bridgwater slipped into the bottom two as the result of this defeat on Dial Hill but with just a handful of points covering so many clubs, five teams will be battling desperately to avoid the drop before the curtain finally falls on another competitive and fiercely contested season.

League standings, all played 17: Bath 294 pts; Clevedon 246; Bedminster 211; Frocester 210; Bristol 205; Downend 200; Lechlade 197; Potterne 197; Bridgwater 195; Corsham 134.

Final fixtures: Bedminster v Frocester; Bridgwater v Corsham; Downend v Clevedon; Lechlade v Bristol; Potterne v Bath.

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