CRICKET: ONLY eight runs separated Hampton & Solihull against local rivals Olton & West Warwickshire on Saturday afternoon as Tim Keyte’s men made the short journey across the borough.
And it was the home side that came out on top, strengthening their current third placed Premier Division position as they attempt to mount a challenge for title glory.
Home captain Gary Hawkins won the toss and opted to bat on a dry surface at Grange Road.
Johangir Khan (42/3) made early breakthroughs for the visitors – picking up the wickets of Zaid Joseph (6), Marc Webb (5) and then Richard Weaver (30) to have the home side 49/3.
Hawkins then joined Mike Pickering at the crease.
Together the pair advanced the score to 140, before Tim Keyte introduced himself into the attack and bowled Pickering for 42.
Hawkins departed shortly afterwards having made a well-constructed 66 off 100 balls, as Chris Hughes (46/2) accounted for him and Michel Salerno (21).
At the other end, Keyte had Phil Trilloe (20) caught at cover, before dismissing Matt Bentley (11) and Rob Collen (0) with successive balls in the 48th over to finish with four wickets for 49 runs.
Olton declared at 221/9, leaving the visitors a difficult task on a wearing and increasingly spin-friendly pitch.
In reply, Phil Trilloe (44/1) got the early breakthrough for the home side before Chris Hughes took particularly liking to his bowling, smashing him for consecutive sixes as his third over cost 20 runs.
Hughes (37) and Khan (25) took the score to 79 before both fell in quick succession following the introduction of Salerno (38/3) – who also picked the wicket of Matt James (26).
Something of a collapse followed as Chris Mason, Faisal Iqbal, and Amin all failed to register double figures, with Collen (13/3) and Hawkins (39/3) the main architects.
At 130/7 Hampton & Solihull were seemingly destined for a heavy defeat.
However an patient period of rebuilding from Gavin Heath (31) and Safian Shakil (42) saw the visitors edge towards their target.
Heath eventually fell when he was caught behind, before Keyte and Shakil added another 22 runs to take the visitors past 200.
When Shakil was caught at long-on, Hampton and Solihull required just 12 runs from the last three overs with one wicket remaining.
However Collen produced a yorker in the penultimate over to claim the last scalp, and leave Olton victors by just eight runs.
After the match, a disappointed Tim Keyte said: “To have come so close to victory is immensely frustrating, especially given the courage and discipline that Gavin and Safian displayed to drag us back into the match.
“Nevertheless to have pushed Olton as hard as we did.”