CRICKET: OLTON’S Premier Division title hopes took a massive blow on Saturday afternoon as they lost from a seemingly comfortable position against title rivals Rugby.
Skipper Michael Salerno opted to declare Olton’s innings on 197/5 after 30 overs with rain always a likely threat.
But his decision backfired when Rugby knocked back 198 runs in just 29.1 overs – helped by a magnificent century from Rugby opener Henry Wilkins.
Olton won the toss and elected to bat first on a wicket likely to produce runs for this mouthwatering Premier Division clash.
Openers Richard Weaver (25) and Michael Ceillam (14) hurried the score along to 36 before Ceillam was caught and bowled by Henry Wilkins.
The same dismissal happened to Weaver just 25 runs later when Wilkins picked up his second scalp of the afternoon to leave Olton at 61/2.
Marc Webb and Gary Hawkins combined to take the score past 90. But when Webb was caught for a quickfire 42 it left Olton at 95/3.
Philip Ceillam (4) and Michael Salerno (1) then departed cheaply to leave no.7 Zaid Joseph with the task of taking the hosts to a respectable target.
Paired with Hawkins, he did just that and hit 33 runs from 25 balls while Hawkins went past his half century to end on 68 from 55 balls as the innings was declared at 197/5.
In reply, Rugby knew they had to win to keep their Premier Division title hopes alive.
And openers Henry Wilkins and Raj Chohan made the perfect start – putting on 95 for the first wicket.
The lack of wickets on Olton’s part meant Rugby allowed themselves to be more aggressive with the bat.
Though Owen Edwards (2) was caught cheaply, Wilkins excelled in the conditions and raced to 101 runs from just 69 balls before being bowled by Philip Trilloe.
Jack Rosser hit 22 from as many balls to keep the scoreboard ticking as middle order batsmen Matthew Ewer, Asaad Qureshi, and Henry Parker were all run out cheaply when attempting to edge Rugby closer to their target.
There was no need for such desperate running though as a knock of 14 from Steve Ward proved to be the match winner as Rugby won by three wickets and picked up 20 league points.
Rugby moved up to third as a result of their win and are now just four points behind second placed Olton, who trail league leaders Bedworth by 15 points.