Cunningham finishes just two short of century for Baston

Baston's Jon Howard, left, and Guy Cunningham
Baston's Jon Howard, left, and Guy Cunningham
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Baston cruised to victory away against Billingborough 2nd XI to consolidate their second spot in the South Lincolnshire and Border League’s first division.

Skipper Tim Dyer lost the toss on a hard track, and Billingborough’s seasoned openers Mick Stanley and Harvey Page quickly pushed the home side to 40-0.

Steve Richardson then made the breakthrough, trapping Page (9) LBW before removing Billingborough keeper Arnold for a second ball duck.

Josh Scott joined Stanley at the crease and they continued to keep the scoreboard moving with Adam Hilless (0-41) and Steve Richardson (2-35) unable to make any further headway. The partnership reached 50 before Mick Stanley (46) holed out to Guy Cunningham at long on, bringing Boro’s superstar Nathan Garfoot to the crease.

With the stage set for the aggressive batsman, he was caught out by a straight delivery from John Lamin for a golden duck. Josh Scott continued to accumulate runs while left-hander Liam Maskell (26) went after Tim Dyer’s off-spin, hitting him to all parts of the ground before finding Adam Hilless on the fence to leave Borough 136-5.

Dyer and Lamin turned the screw and as the runs dried up, Josh Scott fell to Dyer for an excellent return catch as the youngster’s luck ran out on a good 48.

Aaron Pullum (9) and Mark Pilgrim (11) both made starts, but couldn’t push on. The last two wickets both fell to Dyer who claimed 6 for 69 from his 10.2 overs while Lamin took 2 for 27 from his 10 as Billingborough finished with a competitive 177.

After dropping a catch on the boundary, Liam Davies was unable to open the batting due to a bad hand injury. Mark Richardson went out instead and nicked off in the third over without scoring and Billingborough sensed a collapse.

Instead, run machine Jon Howard was joined by Guy Cunningham, fresh from their 108 run partnership a week earlier. Both played well, defending the good balls, and putting away the bad balls, to leave the fielding side demoralised as both reached their half centuries before the drinks break at 108-1, as both bought up their half centuries.

With 70 needed from 23 overs, both batsmen continued where they left off until Howard (65) offered a return catch to Aaron Pullum, leaving Baston 149-2.

Cunningham however upped the aggression, hitting boundaries for fun. Lamin was bowled by Garfoot for 5 with Baston needing 15 to win, and Cunningham needing 15 personally for a century.

Stewart let Cunningham have the strike as he put away three more fours, leaving three to win and Stewart facing. Stewart got the message from his side as he blocked and left Garfoot’s over. Garfoot then sent down a horrible leg-side wide, as the batsmen took a single to bring the scores level.

Garfoot then sent his field back to the boundary intent on denying Cunningham a century. In typical fashion, Cunningham tried to smash Garfoot’s yorker into next week. The ball flew straight up in the air and everyone watched in disbelief as Garfoot dropped an easy return chance, and the batsmen took a single to give Baston a 7 wicket win inside 33 overs. Cunningham was left unbeaten for a brilliant 98 not out.

Baston host promotion rivals Stamford 2nd XI on Saturday - a match skipper Dyer has already labelled “the biggest game of the season.”