Fine bowling display cannot mask Leamington batting deficiencies
Leamington narrowly failed to notch consecutive victories, falling to a two-wicket defeat at home to Wolverhampton.
Leamington were asked to bat first in bowler-friendly conditions following heavy overnight rain and subsequent heavy cloud cover.
Veteran Neil Smith, pushed to the top of the order, was an early victim for Johannes Bothma and both Nathan Hooker and Lee Hopkins were dismissed by Usman Arif.
Wolves were bowling well but Leamington showed little application in testing circumstances.
Joe Somra compiled a patient 28 before being bowled by England Under-19 left-armer Ben Twohig, one of four wickets for the young spinner.
Adeel Sajid played some pleasing shots to make 26 and Tom Warner chipped in with an unbeaten 21, but Leamington were dismissed in the 34th over for a paltry 127.
Leamington were not finished yet, however, and openers Tom Warner and Matt Davison both struck in their first overs.
Worcestershire’s Tom Fell was clean bowled by Warner, with Davison accounting for skipper Dan Bowyer in similar fashion, neither batsman troubling the scorer.
The prize wicket of Wasim Jaffer, averaging 160 in the league, fell to Warner as the former Indian Test player, capped 31 times for his country, was adjudged leg before for ten.
Wolves’ other England Under-19 star, Zen Malik, dropped anchor but received little support from the other end and when he was stumped by Hooker for 45, Wolves were in trouble at 74 for six.
Adam Lawley and Will Neild took advantage of some loose bowling from Leamington, but when the latter was bowled by Davison and Smith accounted for Amritpal Singh, Wolves were 114 for eight.
Lawley (26 not out) played patiently, however, and with time on their side Wolves inched towards their target.
And, despite a couple of alarms, the Black Country side scraped home with two wickets in hand.
The reverse fixture saw a similar match with ball dominating bat and, again, Wolverhampton came out on top.
Dan McCarthy blew away Wolverhampton’s top order, taking four wickets as the hosts limped to 62 for five.
Muhammed Dogar then struck three times and Leamington were well on top, reducing the home side to 105 for nine.
Experienced skipper Mike Smith farmed the strike and his unbeaten 46 turned the match his side’s way.
Tea was taken with Wolverhampton on 148 for nine and the contest evenly poised.
Batting proved to be as difficult for Leamington and only stand-in skipper Jack Hawkes found the necessary application to build an innings.
His unbeaten 40 was the only highlight of the Leamington response as the visitors were dismissed for 108.
Three wickets apiece for Jaswal and Khan helped Wolverhampton maintain their healthy lead at the top of the table.
Heavy overnight rain and morning downpours saw Leamington 4ths’ match with Blockley cancelled.
Leamington 3rds eased their Cotswold Hills Premier Division relegation fears after winning an enthralling encounter at Shipston by one run.
Having been set a modest-looking 170 to win, fellow strugglers Shipston seemed to be easing to safety when they reached 163 for six with seven overs remaining.
However, Lee Credgington then bowled a second consecutive maiden to crank up the pressure and Jimmy Gethins (3-40) trapped skipper Tom Cox (21) lbw and bowled John Payton with the final ball of his spell for a double-wicket maiden.
Skipper Matt Dale then turned to experienced spin bowlers Shaun Williams and James Whitfield.
In the gathering gloom, the pair seemed to hypnotise the batsmen as the encircling fielders crept ever closer and going into the final over Shipston needed three runs for victory with just one wicket remaining.
A single came off the third ball and the fourth was pushed out square prompting the batsmen to set off for a sharp single.
However, Gethins swooped and his flat return found the keeper’s gloves to run out Daniel Payton by a yard and give a jubilant Leamington side victory by the smallest possible margin.
Earlier, a much-changed Leamington side had struggled to set a defendable target.
No batsman made a major score but Wayne Killian (24), Lee Credgington (30) and James Slora (31) all produced valuable contributions before a late flourish from Rob Woolaston (16 not out) and James Whitfield (12 not out) added the runs that were, later, to become so valuable.
Mindful that the threatening rain might bring the match to an early finish, Shipston’s early batsmen get their innings off the brisk start so as to keep the run-rate high.
However, none of them were able build a score and give Jack Murphy (48) the support to he needed to secure the win.