Mark Williamson the hero as Burntwood St Matthews beat Armitage by 111 runs

Burntwood St Matthews got their Staffordshire Club Cricket Championship campaign off to a flying start with a win on the road against Armitage thanks to five-wicket hero Mark Williamson.

Having won the toss and electing to bat first under the clear blue skies at Westfields Road, captain Matt Hoccom sent his opening pair of Simon Annis and Luke Dovey out with instructions to build a defendable score on what was a fine batting surface.

Saints got off to a brisk start with the openers working the pace of Hindmarsh and Turner to comfortably move the run-rate to  five an over right from the start, but a slower delivery from James Turner (1-25) in the seventh over foxed Dovey (11) who caught a leading edge, looping a simple catch to the waiting cover fieldsman.

Annis (21) was next to fall, edging the hard-working Pete Hindmarsh behind in the 14th over to leave Burntwood 55-2, before a mix-up in the middle led to the run out of Matt Crossfield (8).  Alex Tsung’s (4) innings ended shortly afterwards as the Armitage wicket keeper snapped up another catch, this time from the excellent medium paced swing bowling of Luke Elsmore, to leave the visitors stuttering at 82-4, but George Haywood and Stephen Earp combined to push the score along as Burntwood rallied.

Haywood looked to be in fine form and crashed the first six of the day over the ropes from Elsmore’s bowling with Earp following suit a few overs later off Hindmarsh who was tiring after a 13 over spell bowling up the hill in the heat.  Hindmarsh (1-55) was then replaced by the leg spin of Emil Gibbons who, with the seventh ball of his spell, undid Haywood (30), forcing him to chop the ball onto his stumps.

Captain Matt Hoccom was the next man in and Gibbons almost struck again in his next over as Earp misplaced a shot to the off-side, James Turner leaping full length and grasping at the ball in his fingertips, only to disparingly see it pop out again as he hit the floor.  Earp continued his good fortune a short time later as the Burntwood batsmen looked to improve the run tally, launching the ball somewhere near the Icelandic Volcano’s ash cloud and surviving thanks to the deep mid-on fielder’s spill, Gibbons again the unlucky bowler.  Rubbing salt into that wound, Gibbons’ following ball sailed over the same fielder and into the car park off Earp’s bat for six.

But Gibbons’ gained some revenge by making a mess of Hoccom’s (15) stumps and before any further runs were added, Earp’s (47) luck finally ran out as Elsmore (3-46) deservedly increased his wicket tally with a caught behind to leave the Saints on 167-7.  Pushing for runs in the final overs, Rupert Edmonds (4) was bowled out by Elsmore, leaving it to George and Will Farmer to close the innings, George smashing a highly impressive 23 not out and younger brother Will, 2 not out.  Burntwood St Matthews completing their 45 overs on 199-8.

The Armitage reply was immediately in trouble with usual opening batsman Max Gibbons being unable to take up the bat due to an injury sustained while fielding a ball in the 1st innings so it was left to Andy Matthews and Emil Gibbons to open, neither of whom made it past the second over.  Gibbons (0) was dismissed LBW to Mark Williamson and the ferocius pace of Luke Dovey (1-23) beat Matthews (1) to take his middle stump leaving Armitage reeling on 3-2.

However, Jamie Clarke and Luke Elsmore put their team back on track with some fine shot selection and looked set to mount a challenge as Armitage reached the 50 mark without further incident.

Burntwood bowler Mark Williamson had other thoughts though and Clarke’s (18) first mistake of his innings was punished as he was trapped LBW.  Elsmore (14) then became Williamson’s third victim of the day when his stumps were clattered by an unplayable delivery as the Saints re-asserted themselves forcing Armitage to 54-4.

Simon Annis replaced Dovey bowling down the hill and was soon in wicket action taking Pete Hindmarsh’s (6) bails off with some late swing before Williamson added David Cox (0) to his list growing of wickets with another clean bowled.  James Turner was in a big-hitting mood and smashed his way to a very quick 17 before the best moment of the day saw him on his way back to the pavillion.

Williamson (5-41) had been plugging away at Turner with excellent line and length with the hard hitting batsman managing to work runs away.  Finally Williamson’s persistance paid off as Turner took a chance on another on-the-spot delivery.  Catching the ball sweetly, Turner propelled the ball on the off-side for what appeared would be a flat, hard six until George Haywood’s full-paced lunge intercepted its path for a stunning catch near the boundary ropes for Williamson’s fifth wicket of the day.

Annis (2-10) then trapped Karl Smith LBW for 2 and Billy Stewart (6) fell to a Matt Hoccom catch off the left arm spin of Matt Crossfield (1-4) to end the Armitage innings on 88 and gain a 111 run victory for Burntwood St Matthews.

Following the match skipper Matt Hoccom said:

“Before our innings we felt 200 would be a winnable total for our batsmen to target today, especially with the strong bowling attack we had out, so we were happy with 199.  But Armitage were right up with the run-rate until 20 overs and we have to be grateful Willo was in such fine form with the ball.  It was a good team effort and we’ve blown away a few cobwebs but I know everyone has more in the locker to offer over the coming weeks.”

Burntwood St Matthews continue their Staffordshire Club Cricket Championship season at home to Springvale on April 24.

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