MARKET Overton’s defence of their Rutland Twenty20 start got off to a perfect start, cruising to a first round victory at North Luffenham last Friday evening.
Last year’s champions will be joined in tomorrow evening’s semi-finals by Uppingham’s 1st and 2nd XIs, who beat Empingham and Ketton respectively, and Oakham who saw off new entrants Wakerley and Barrowden at the Lime Kilns.
Opener Jonny White almost single-handedly blasted Barrowden to 148 from their 20 overs. No other batsmen made double figures as White smashed 7 fours and 4 sixes on his way to 79.
White was little fortunate that Oakham’s James Booth dropped him twice, and that as he ducked a beamer he clipped it for six in the process, but he also hit some classy shots before being caught hoisting the ball back over the bowler. Isaac Smith took 3-22 and Brian Cooper 3-25 for the home side.
Oakham’s reply got off to an inauspicious start with Dave Ramshaw heading back to the pavilion in the first over for a duck. But Sam Wills batted with control and power throughout the innings to finish unbeaten on 78 with 9 fours and 2 sixes.
Opposite Wills, Cooper teased with a few miscued shots early on before unleashing a huge six and he then quickly ran up an unbeaten 59 as Oakham ended on 151-1 with 10 balls remaining,
Oakham will face Uppingham’s 1st XI in the semi-finals after Town beat Empingham with Jamie Binley in superb form.
Binley opened alongside Mark Cox (44) and ended just four short of a century. Cox and Binley’s opening partnership of 143 runs was made in just 11 overs.
Martin Bennett (32) and Jamie Dumford (32no) both scored quickly and Alex Ashwin hit a six over the keeper’s head from the final delivery as Uppingham set an unassailable 250. Rick Cooper was the best of the Empingham bowlers with three wickets for 50 runs.
Empingham lost three quick wickets for just 21 runs before Tom Cooper (57), Will Thraves (13) and Freddie Turner (15) dented Uppingham’s bowling attack. Their final five wickets fell for just 20 with Binley destroying Empingham’s lower order, five wickets for 11 runs as Empingham scored 109.
A young Uppingham 2nd XI also made to the semi-finals but it was a much tighter affair against Ketton at the Castle Hill ground.
Uppingham batted first with Ben Harford and Harry Butchart putting on 27 for the first wicket. George Scott then hit 20 off a dozen balls before being stumped. His brother Tom then joined Harford and hit 15 before being caught on the boundary by an excellent one-handed catch by Wilson.
Some quick singles from Jamie Richardson (23no) and Harford (51no), who batted the full 20 overs, set Ketton a target of 141 to win.
Ketton openers Christian Durant and Wilson started well, scoring at the required run rate without looking in any trouble.
Keen fielding kept the singles to a minimum but enough boundaries were hit off the poor balls to keep the score ticking over.
The introduction of leg-spinner Harry Butchart brought the first wicket at 64 with Wilson holing out to Ed Scott at mid-on.
Johnny Smith kept the Ketton run rate ticking over but after the loss of Durant, clean bowled by Tom Roberts, wickets started to fall regularly, helped by a sharp run out by George Scott and two good catches by Jamie Richardson.
Andy Sayers finished the game off with some spin to leave Ketton on 117, 24 short of their target.
The 2010 winners, Market Overton, never looked in trouble at North Luffenham.
Luffenham batted first and only scored 93 off their 20 overs losing eight wickets.
Woody Hodson top scored with 26 as all five Marko bowlers were rewarded with wickets. Martin Thwaites finished with impressive figures of 2 for 9 runs off 4 overs.
Luffenham may have felt they were in with a chance as Market Overton lost three wickets for just 27, with Stuart Rose scoring 21.
But sensible batting by the experienced Darren Munton (24no) and Martin Thwaites (16) saw Market Overton home with five overs to spare.
The semis start at 6pm tomorrow evening with the final at Oakham on Friday, June 24, where the hosts will hold a full bar and barbecue.