Ben Hicks was back in the wickets as Hale Barns First XI finally got back to winning ways with a much-needed 36-run victory over Alvanley CC.
The quick left-armer is up to 24 dismissals in the league in 2021 following another dominant display with the ball, while Khurram Hussain marked his return to action after a month’s absence with a valuable 49.
Starting the day without a win since the start of May, Barns were short on confidence and suffered a difficult start when three early wickets fell, with Chris Charles taking two and Stephen Charles claiming the other.
Sanjeev Bhatia and Hussain steadied the ship, with the latter accumulating the bulk of the runs while Bhatia fought hard to see off the potent opening bowlers, working hard for his 7 off 49 deliveries before eventually succumbing to S Charles.
At 54-4, Hussain maintained his fluent scoring, with seven fours and a six steering him to within one run of a first half century of the season. However, he was unable to convert his impressive knock into a deserved milestone when S Charles (3-26) finally unlocked his defences for 49 off 43 balls.
Luke Skade dug in well to stablise the innings, while Tom Saddington played a productive cameo, adding 19 runs in quick time, but two wickets for Matty Drury (2-15) put Alvanley in a commanding position.
And the return of C Charles dashed any hopes of a late surge as he doubled his tally to finish with figures of 4-37, including Skade for a patient 64-ball 23, meaning Barns were unable to gather any impetus in the closing stages of the innings, being bowled out for 120 in 47 overs.
The visitors made a promising start to their run chase, with Andy Bennion hitting five boundaries on his way to a rapid 22 from just 15 deliveries, although three quick wickets for Hicks shifted the momentum in HBCC’s favour.
Younas Saeed (1-35) got in on the act, and then Barns were suddenly in the driving seat as Hicks (5-33) ripped through the middle order to secure his third five-wicket haul of the campaign.
The introduction of spin led to further success as Joe Cooper (2-10) struck twice, while the pacey Sam Smith delivered the hammer blow by removing top order batsman S Charles, who had battled valiantly for his 28 off 70 balls.
And it was Smith (2-1) who completed the incredible fightback with the final dismissal as Alvanley slumped to 84 all out.