Tipton up and running in memorial match

Cricket returned to Tipton last Saturday with the annual John McKay memorial match, played among club members in memory of a good Tipton cricketing friend and colleague, writes David Birch.

Twenty eight players turned out for the occasion, led by new vice captains Jim Bugler and Matt Williamson.

Williamson won the toss and chose to bat on a hard, straw-coloured surface, more reminiscent of August than April; his choice of experienced openers Mike Gilkerson and Kevin Jones appeared sound, but both struggled with the lively bounce and swing of Alex Tubbs and the guile of Dave O’Higgins. Apart from a sweetly timed Gilkerson six off O’Higgins, the pair made slow progress, adding just 32 in the first 10 overs.

Paul Williamson, bowling in tandem with new recruit Geoff Woodcock, struck the first blow for Bugler’s men when he induced Gilkerson to drive into the safe hands of Phil Tolley with the score on 44. Steve Shaw lifted the tempo for a while, lifting the rate to four an over, before he fell lbw to David Birch for 28. Birch followed up with the wicket of visiting Cornish vice president Dave James, caught behind by Tim Oakley.

When the battling Jones was finally caught by Oakley for 25, John Williamson added a breezy 21, well supported by Chris Tubbs (11), to take the score to 119-5. The returning Woodcock accounted for both of them, leaving Matt Williamson and Josh Singh to steer the score to 139-6.

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Bugler chose to open his reply with the more adventurous choice of Alec Pace, making a welcome return to Tipton cricket after a two-year absence, and our second new recruit, Alistair Matthews. Pace settled quickly, timing the ball immaculately and driving confidently, and the pair had added 30 before Matthews was bowled by Mark Channon. When Pace retired on a run-a-ball 30, Jem Gillham’s lively 12 and Dave Jessop’s assured 25 maintained the momentum before both fell to James with the score on 85.

At this point Phil Tolley entered the fray and raced to 31 with two fours and three sixes while Tim Oakley and Chris Mason dealt well with the pace and hostility of Joe Birch, adding 9 and 14 respectively, before they succumbed to the wiles of Phil Wright. Tom Birch and Alex Tubbs looked as though they would steer Bugler’s team home until Dickie Dawson stumped Birch off Jones’ bowling, leaving the skipper to come in and clump Jones to the boundary for the winning runs with six overs to spare.

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