Magnificent last-wicket stand keeps Lechlade's title hopes alive
LECHLADE CC have one hand on the West of England Premier League (Wiltshire Division) trophy after winning what chairman Paul Rowley described as ‘the greatest game of cricket I have ever seen’ on Saturday.
Lechlade’s season looked about to come to nothing when they were struggling on 79-9, chasing title rival Great Bedwyn’s total of 171 in their 50 overs.
But a last-wicket stand of 94 from Adrian Stenner and Anthony Pettifer rescued the most improbable victory.
No praise can be too high for Stenner, Lechlade’s opening batsmen who was picked for his ability with the ball as he was still nursing a broken left thumb.
The victory took Lechlade to the top of the table in this weather blighted season – but only by the narrowest of margins.
They have the same number of points as Burbage and Easton Royal, but claim the top spot having gained one more win. Great Bedwyn are just three points back in third and by no means out of the contest as we head for the final afternoon on Saturday.
In fact, it is so tight at the top that Lechlade could win their final game – at home to Wootton Bassett – and still have the title snatched from them.
Rowley (pictured) admits his nerves completely shredded from watching on Saturday.
“I went from ecstasy to the depths of despair and back to ecstasy on Saturday,” said Rowley. “In the context of this season, it was the best game of cricket I have ever seen. It is why we all play sport.
“When we were making a horlicks of the run chase at 79-9 that was our season over – they were about to turn the lights out – and I was almost heading for my car. But Stens and Ant (Pettifer) did a great job.
“We know Stens can hit the ball very hard but because of his broken left thumb, he was picked as a bowler and dropped down the order from No.1 to No. 7.
“We know Ant can bat because he has scored hundreds in the past.
“They ‘manned up’ and pulled off a freakish result.”
The 2012 cricket season has been decimated by the most atrocious summer weather but the forecast seems to be good for the final weekend when, with Lechlade at home, both Burbage and Great Bedwyn travel, to Malmesbury and Nationwide House respectively.
“It has been the worst season for cancellations I have ever known,” said Rowley. “Even in 2007, it was only bad for three weeks.
“We are just so fortunate to still be in the running.
“Even on a day when most games in all the leagues were called off we were able to play at Great Bedwyn, which of course was vital for us.
“It is going to be very exciting on Saturday and it is hard to know how it will pan out. We could win and still finish third.
“Victory would mean an awful lot for our club and a lot of work has been done at every level.
“We have been runners-up for the last two years and only one team gets promoted. I think we deserve to win it.”