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Lichfield CC suffered a disappointing Bank Holiday weekend.
They missed out on the lions share of the points against Tamworth by three runs, having to settle for a losing draw, losing against Premier Division Walsall in the Staffs Cup and seeing their clash at bottom of the table Sutton Coldfield abandoned without a ball being bowled.
On Saturday, Tamworth managed to cling on to a winning draw by just three runs in a thrilling local derby.
On a wet and windy morning, Lichfield skipper Adam Braddock won the toss and asked Tamworth to bat, but just one over was completed with eight runs coming from the bat of Talbot before rain intervened. There was a 40 minute delay before play resumed and openers Talbot and Orton had to work hard on a pitch offering plenty of assistance to the Lichfield bowlers.
A further rain interval broke up the momentum with the score on 40.
After surviving a solid opening spell, Orton and Talbot brought up the 100 partnership playing some good shots around the ground. Filer grabbed the first wicket of the day when some smart glove work from Burton had Orton (30) just out of his ground.
Drinks were taken shortly after with Tamworth 115-1 and immediately following the resumption Talbot was bowled by Stone for 58.
After a rapid start Tamworth were being pegged back by the bowling of Filer and Stone, Burrows misjudged a slider from Filer and was bowled for 11 and Lichfield had grabbed the momentum through the middle overs.
Flower and Maddox set about a repair mission and quickly put together a handy partnership, Filer was the pick of the Lichfield bowlers as he really stemmed the flow of runs in his 15.5 over spell.
On 30 Flower attemped a cute sweep off a Braddock straight one and was adjudged leg before wicket. Maddox continued to pressure the Lichfield fielders with new partner McNulty and the two ran extremely well between wickets. But McNulty (30) wasn’t quick enough to beat a direct hit from James.
Maddox (39*) finished well to leave Tamworth with a very competitive total of 260-5 off their 55 overs.
The rain delays earlier in the day virtually ruled out the match being a straight win/loss and so thoughts were firmly placed on the winning draw total of 199 in 42 overs. Lichfield had to go in as slight favourites having 10 wickets in the shed and a clear total to aim at for the winning draw.
Opener Price in his usual way set about getting off to a flier hitting the first ball of the innings for four and his second boundary followed shortly after. However New Zealand overseas Hewitt had other ideas and gained revenge when Price attempted a big shot and was bowled for 11. Sarginson joined Bassett-Graham and played some quality shots as the score board ticked along nicely, Lichfield reached drinks after 21 overs at 96-1, well and truly in the box seat.
Sarginson (28) chopped on off the bowling of Flower, who saw a spell of five overs 1-19 slow the rate and also increase the run rate. Stu Burrows, despite struggling to find his radar early, bowled an economical spell for the visitors.
James, who struggled with an ankle injury when bowling, did not last long, before providing Maddox with a sharp catch off Hewitt and all of a sudden Lichfield were 140-3.
Bassett-Graham held the key as the two overseas Kiwis locked horns in a tense battle. Lichfield skipper Braddock fell victim to a smart piece of work from Maddox who engineered a match changing run out to again peg back the home side.
With five overs to go 38 were needed for the winning draw, Lichfield having six wickets in hand were well and truly in the driving seat.
Seager suddenly sprung to life striking a six, four and another six off Hewitt, despite the Kiwi overseas player bowling to a field of five men on the leg side boundary. Seager should have played the percentages but was on a roll and skyed the final ball of the over and was caught out.
Hewitt, bowling the second last over of the game with 13 required, held his nerve to not only dry the runs, but also claim the wicket of Filer and finish with the fine figures of 4-58.
With tenruns needed off the final over for the winning draw some fine fielding in the deep saved the visitors as neither Bassett-Graham or Stone could get the boundary they badly needed.
Lichfield finished on 196-6, with overseas star Bassett-Graham showing his class in a fine innings to finish on 93 not out.
The city side will rue a missed opportunity in a game they really should have taken the winning draw from. However with five games of the season gone Lichfield remain unbeaten and, having played two of the early season favourites in Brewood and Tamworth, will go into the rest of the campaign full of confidence looking to build on their solid start.
On Sunday Lichfield travelled to Premier division Walsall for the last 16 of the Staffordshire Cup – having caused a big upset in the previous round beating Himley.
On losing the toss Lichfield were put into bat on a used wicket which looked like it would offer the spinner some assistance.
Price and Bassett-Graham got off to a flying start with some nice shots before the latter was caught and bowled. Price followed straight away, caught in the deep attempting to hit Byrne to the longest boundary against the wind.
Two further quick wickets put Lichfield in serious trouble at 50-4.
Seager and Stone started the rebuilding work picking up singles as the score crept to 71 before Seager was caught at point.
Stone (34) and Fielding provided some middle order resistance with a 65 run partnership, the innings of Fielding was particularly pleasing after showing good form in the second team he moved up to show he has potential to be a high quality player with some lovely shots under difficult circumstances.
Lichfield lost Stone, Fielding and Burton but a cameo from Filer (29*) gave Lichfield hope. He hit some lusty blows in a quickfire knock which put Walsall on the back foot during the final few overs. Lichfield finished on 184-8 off their 45 overs.
Knowing they would need early wickets to put the home side under pressure Lichfield were unlucky as Liddiard in particular beat the bat on a number of occasions, the young quick bowler looked to have much better rhythm as he troubled the openers picking up the wicket of Green.
Baker (66) and Walsall overseas star Jonker (72) on the back of an unbeaten 154 on Saturday set about the Lichfield bowling which was hindered by the injury to Wilkinson who pulled up with hamstring issues.
With drizzle in the air the Walsall batting put a real dampener on Lichfield as they raced to their total of 184 before the introduction of Bassett-Graham into the attack picked up a couple of late wickets, but Walsall were too strong on the day and romped to a six wicket victory with 13 overs to spare.
With the Bank Holiday Monday fixture being washed out due to the rain, Lichfield now have to focus on next Satruday’s home clash with Wednesbury.
They will be without key players Price and James for the game and will be monitoring Wilkinson’s fitness but Fielding will be brought into the side after his fine performance against the Premier League bowling of Walsall.