CERNE VALLEY 163-9 (11pts) lost to WEYMOUTH 179-9 (19pts) by 16 runs

WEYMOUTH pulled a stunning victory from the fire of defeat at Cerne Valley in their Dorset ‘Thank You NHS’ League Division Two clash at the Simsay Oval.

With Cerne chasing 180 to win and cruising at 92-0 against a misfiring seam attack, Weymouth’s spinners clawed the Seasiders back into the game before the pacers closed out victory in a bowling performance of stark contrasts.

At a baking Cerne, where temperatures reached 34C, Weymouth skipper Harry Mitchell won the toss and elected to bat.

Openers Joe James and Kieron Womble raced to 58-0 off 12 overs, with both batsmen hitting a flurry of boundaries.

In the hot conditions, Weymouth were guilty of failing to rotate the strike often enough as the visitors’ scoring began to dry up.

For the next 18 overs, Mitchell’s men scored just 76 runs, creating pressure on their middle order when James fell for an outstanding 68, containing 13 fours plus one six.

Womble went for a watchful 31 attempting a reverse sweep as Cerne pouched a sublime catch at slip.

Tim Guyett and Neil Walton (both 0) each succumbed to catches on the boundary when looking to accelerate but Dom Webb (38) managed to boost the visitors’ score with Harry Mitchell (10).

Webb was superbly caught and bowled by young Sam Downey (2-16) before Cerne were gifted two run-outs, Weymouth ending on 179-9.

John Stiles (38) and Hurford looked set to blast their way to victory, crunching 12 fours between them in a fluent opening stand.

Leg-spinner Shafeek Urumancheri (2-23) got the breakthrough, trapping Stiles leg before, and Weymouth never looked back.

Suddenly, the Seasiders were energised and Hurford (51), who had survived two dropped catches, edged Mitchell to Blackman who took a smart reflex catch. Pearce Mercer (0) then sliced Mitchell to a stooping Lloyd Beals as Weymouth bagged wickets in successive balls.

Cerne slipped to 117-4 when Urumancheri used considerable turn to bowl James Ellwood (6) round his legs.

With Weymouth’s spinners bowled out, Sami Rathnayake (2-15) and Neil Walton (2-34) returned to the attack to stifle Cerne’s batsmen with pace and variations respectively.

Craig Kellaway (21) proved to be Cerne’s last hope but chipped an easy catch off Walton to James at mid-wicket as Weymouth closed out a rollercoaster victory.

Speaking to Echosport, Mitchell said: “The initial partnership we built was very strong. Joe was exceptional and Kieron played a good role with him.

“Potentially towards the middle we could’ve run a bit more. Instead of getting 180 we could’ve been looking at 220, ideally.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement going forward.

“The bowling, the first 20 overs we were asleep in the field.

“We were slow to get going but when we woke up, the back end of the bowling performance was the best it’s been in a long time.

“Shaf bowled exceptionally and the seamers when they came back on bowled in good areas. It was easy to set a field to.

“In a tough situation, we got out of it pretty well. When we got the (first) wicket, we believed we could win the game and that was the turning point.”

On James’ crucial innings, Mitchell added: “It was a quality knock. To do it in a proper game, credit to him, he was really good.”

Weymouth are now fourth in Division Two Group B after two games, with Cerne fifth.

Mitchell’s men travel to unbeaten second-placed Stalbridge on Saturday.


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