SKIPPER Mark Evenson hopes Bromsgrove’s top order batsmen can start firing this weekend, ahead of hosting relegation-threatened Bridgnorth on Saturday (noon).
A 34-run loss to Harborne in Birmingham & District Premier Division One last Saturday followed a single-run win over Hagley in the Gray’s County Cup on Friday.
In Saturday’s league fixture, the Boars were unable to match the host’s 209 total, which included a century for opener Swapnil Gugale (106) and a half-century for Jack Holloway (50), with Gareth Williams taking 4-31 for the visitors.
Despite the imperious Alex Milton hitting a season-high figure of 65 in the second innings, Bromsgrove were all out for 175.
It was the Boars’ fifth loss of the season, but Evenson has high hopes that his side can return to winning ways at the first opportunity, as the league campaign reaches the half-way stage.
“We have to be confident, we have to favour the home conditions on our own wicket,” he said.
“We hope Alex can get another 50, and that we can get the top order to start firing.
“If we can post a good total and bat them out of the game, we can hand over to Gareth (Williams) and Ash (Newfield) to claim the wickets.”
The travelling Boars won the toss and elected to field, with Tom Hill making an early catch to dismiss Suraj Kumar (7) at 17-1 from Alex Wilkinson’s delivery.
Williams took the first of four wickets when dismissing Karan Bharaj (16) at 50-2, followed by a delivery towards Harborne skipper James Hunt (2) that was caught by Evenson and a successful lbw claim against Tom Arnold (0).
Tom Payne (3) was Williams’ fourth and final victim, caught by Milton, while Daniel Wright (7), caught by Ryan Pedley, and Ben Langdell (0) were removed from the bat by Tom Russell (2-31) to leave Harborne in an ominous position at 103-7.
But 85 put on by opener Gugale and Holloway helped the host’s cause considerably, eventually finishing on 209 when being bowled out in the 53rd over.
Going into bat, the Boars struggled to strike up much rhythm or consistency, with the usually reliable Jayden Levitt (4) and Ashley Newfield (4) only able to live out short stints at the crease.
Milton’s introduction at number four changed matters, forming a partnership of 56 with Matthew Russell.
But Milton’s dismissal at 138-6 led to Bromsgrove’s downfall, despite Alex Wilkinson (17) and Tom Hill (21 not out) adding a solid number of runs, with the Boars being bowled out in the 50th over.
Every single run was priceless for the Boars in their fixture against Hagley the day beforehand.
An opening partnership of 59 between Pedley (28) and Levitt (48), followed by 18 runs each for M Russell and Greg Chinn and 12 runs in extras finishing Bromsgrove on 124-3.
The host’s bowlers then played effectively to keep Hagley’s run rate down, with T Russell taking 3-13 and M Russell taking a wicket, as the visitors finished on 123-4.
Evenson says it was a mixed weekend of emotions for his side, with small margins dictating the outcome of both games.
“Saturday was disappointing, we felt we could bowl first with the overhead conditions not looking too great,” he said.
“We missed a stumping at one point, but Gareth (Williams) bowled really well, and at 103-7 we were over the moon with the scoreline.
“It was disappointing with how it tipped in their favour, Alex Milton went about his business, but once we lost him we quickly crumbled.”
He then added that Friday’s cup victory could easily have gone either way, after even closer margins sent the Boars on the way to the quarter-finals.
“Cricket is a small margins game, but it’s swings and roundabouts.
“We lost by one run to Wolverhampton the other week, so it comes and goes.”
Evenson also gave his gratitude to wicket-keeper Milton, who, after firing 65 on Saturday, moved up to third in the batting ranks this season.
“He’s the ultimate pro,” said the Boars captain.
“Alex is an all-round player, he’s invaluable behind the stumps, and as a team we try and bat around him.
“It would be nice for him to get a first century this weekend and a few sixes at the bat.”