Defeated twice but Tipton involved in two very absorbing matches

After three rain-interrupted weeks, the cricket season started again for Tipton last weekend, but a combination of rustiness and damp wickets left them winless.

After three rain-interrupted weeks, the cricket season started again for Tipton last weekend, but a combination of rustiness and damp wickets left them winless.

Skipper David Birch chose to bat against new opponents Harberton and openers Matt Williamson and Kevin Jones looked initially comfortable against innocuous-looking bowling. But spinner Cook changed the whole complexion of the innings, as he dismissed first Williamson for 18, then Steve Shaw and Alec Pace. Jones had hit a patient 19, before he, too, fell victim to an ill-judged shot.

Before they knew it, Tipton had crumbled from 50-1 to 52-6 and it soon got worse despite stubborn resistance from Peter Dawson, with support from Birch and Dave O'Higgins playing out some time for little reward in terms of runs.

However, none of the tail-enders had the patience to see out the innings, getting themselves out with impatient swings of the bat. When the innings closed at 64 all out, Tipton could only hope that the visitors would struggle as much as they had done.

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So it turned out, as Birch and O'Higgins opened with a tight spell which conceded only 26 for two wickets from the first 12 overs.

Both wickets fell to O'Higgins, the first smartly stumped by Dave Dawson, the second clean bowled. Mark Channon replaced Birch and quickly found a good line and length, while O'Higgins claimed two more victims to finish with an excellent 4-15 from eight overs.

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At 29-4, Tipton scented an improbable victory and their hopes were raised further as Channon and Shaw chipped away at Harberton's middle order, finishing with the impressive figures of 1-10 and 2-9, reducing the visitors to 47-7. Birch and Gillham tried to finish off the innings, but two fours from the captain's second over relieved the pressure and brought the scores level. A late Gillham wicket was not enough to swing the game back in Tipton's favour and an absorbing battle finished with a two-wicket defeat.

On Sunday, Tipton travelled to Chardstock and batted first. Openers Phil Tolley and Robin Pickering had put on 50 when Pickering skied a catch to mid-wicket. Matt Williamson joined Tolley, who was content to give his young partner the strike as he quickly found an attacking groove, hitting a six and four fours in an aggressive 27.

The partnership closed when Tolley, on 30, was run out. Rodgers and Dawson both went cheaply and the innings looked precarious on 100-5 with only eight overs left. Then Paul Williamson hit a four and three towering sixes and, with excellent support from Adam Gibbins, took the total to 148. Gibbins looked assured, playing straight and sensibly before he ran himself out, bringing Gillham to the wicket to support Williamson in taking the score to 154-6, which looked competitive on this track.

Tipton soon made inroads into the Chardstock top order, with Birch bowling Waite with his third ball and Williamson with the wicket of Bale. Perry came in and immediately hit Birch for two fours.

The captain responded by bringing O'Higgins into the attack, but Perry promptly took 30 from the veteran spinner's first two overs. When Williamson bowled Perry for a 23-ball 44, Chardstock were 74-3 and well on course for a comfortable victory.

For the second time in two days, Tipton's bowlers and fielders dug deep and clambered their way back into the match and bowled much better, claiming two wickets to reduce Chardstock to 124-7.

However, opener Strawbridge moved past 50 and, with support from Copp, finally saw Chardstock home with only seven balls left.

By David Birch

Tipton St John CC

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