Eaton Bray edge a nail-biter to keep up with early pace setters

Eaton Bray's Josh Edwin bowls to North Crawley batsman John Collings.
Eaton Bray's Josh Edwin bowls to North Crawley batsman John Collings.

Eaton Bray dropped to third in Four Counties Division 1 despite seeing off North Crawley in a thriller on Saturday.

While Bray’s two-wicket triumph saw them pick up 25 points, Milton Keynes’ consummate win over New City saw them earn 30, taking over second spot, just four points ahead the reigning champions. Thurleigh top the pile, 10 points clear of Eaton Bray.

In a nail-biting encounter at the Recreation Ground in North Crawley, the visitors won the toss and elected to field first.

North Crawley had been on a five year Division 1 winning streak until last season when Bray took the crown from them, and they’ve struggled to adapt to the new season, and it showed in their top order as they slumped to 56-5 before John Collings (66) and Glen Young (37)managed to salvage some pride from the innings.

Gary Ellerton was the pick of the bowlers for the defending champions though, taking 4-68 as the home side were eventually bowled out for 188.

In what should have been a routing run chase, Eaton Bray made life difficult for themselves as the middle order succumbed to the bowling of Carl Bryce (4-37) and Ian Gillam (3-34).

Andrew Norris was doing his level best to carry Bray along with his 68 at the top of the order, but as partners came and went, he eventually fell to Gillam.

With the middle order crumbling, Ellerton (27), batting at seven, along with number eight Jaco Jacobs (36) steadied the ship, but even they fell with the chase still short.

But with eight wickets down, Eaton Bray (191-8) would just make it over the line to win by two wickets and keep up with the pace at the top of the table.

In Division 3, Ivinghoe & Pitstone remain top of the table after beating Caddington by 129 runs.

Despite losing the top order relatively cheaply, Adam Nice and Greg Roach both hit 60 apiece to guide the leaders to 232 all out, with Bradley Blaney taking 5-65.

Darren Badrick made up for his disappointing 4 with the bat in style with the ball in hand, taking 5-20 as Caddington collapsed to just 103 all out, handing Ivinghoe the comfortable victory.

And Milton Bryan (234) eased past Westcroft (173) to go fourth in the table.