Empingham’s winning run is halted by Ashby

Empingham’s three match winning streak came to an abrupt halt with a 78 run loss against Ashby Carington on Sunday.

The visitors won the toss at Exton Road and had no hesitation in batting first on a batting paradise - afterwards declaring Mal Smith’s ground the best in the Grantham League.

Ashby got off to a decent start with the rapid outfield giving them full value for their shots.

They were pegged back with the loss of both their openers with Freddie Turner and Stu Naylor picking up a wicket each thanks to good work behind the stumps from Mark Coburn. However Ashby had a strong top order and their next two batsmen kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Captain Tom Cooper turned to stalwart and lead strike bowler Dan O’Kane but even he struggled to make a breakthrough.

Loose deliveries were punished and the run rate escalated before O’Kane sent in a magical delivery that beat the bat and allowed Coburn to clean up.

Jo Stafford then picked up a crucial wicket at the other end, leaving Ashby with two new batsmen at the crease.

However, Empingham were unable to restrain the run rate for long with the new batsmen carrying on in the same vein.

Baz Sharp and Olly Elson entered the fray and bowled a series of tight overs but the Ashby batsmen made full use of their wickets in hand for the last 10 overs, with some hearty thumps.

Elson picked up two wickets and Sharp one but Ashby’s middle order pushed on to 249-7 at the close.

Empingham knew it would be a challenging chase and Ashby’s opener bowled with decent pace, hitting Turner in the unmentionables and claiming the wicket of Graham Cooper.

Once the early onslaught had been seen off, Turner and Coburn began to up the run rate and started hitting the boundary frequently.

The home side were now getting the benefit of the rapid outfield but just as the partnership began to hurt Ashby, Coburn nicked one behind which prompted a collapse in the ranks. Powerhouse Sharp went without troubling the scorers and he was followed soon after by Turner (47) and then Elson first ball.

It was left to skipper Cooper (61) to come to the fore and he did so in fine style, smashing the ball to all corners of the ground, with cars and spectators coming under fire.

The support of the lower order was needed and although the likes of O’Kane, Denny and Naylor looked impressive, none of them lasted long enough to take the game to the close with Empingham finishing on 171 all out.

Turner said: “Although defeat is always disappointing, we lost to the better side.

“On another day, a tighter fielding or more explosive batting display could have won us the game but Ashby should take the plaudits.

“Many thanks to those who came to watch and once again provided a cracking family atmosphere at the club, with three more home games on the trot long may it continue.”