CRICKET: Bracebridge heat too much for half strength Louth

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On the hottest day of the year to date, a half strength Louth travelled to second placed Bracebridge Heath, with hopes of advancing towards the top three sides in the league.

However, hopes were immediately dealt a blow as Carrington lost the toss and the Louth side were asked to have a bowl on what looked a belting deck on an afternoon that was only going to get hotter.

Though Louth bowled well, the Bracebridge scoring rate didn’t drop below five an over throughout the innings, and whilst Louth had Bracebridge rocking at 70 for 3, a crucial and difficult chance for Laurence Scott at slip off the bowling of Stewart West saw Hymie Bentley survive.

Had Bracebridge slipped to 70 for four at this stage, Louth may well have found themselves in the box seat, but as it was Bentley and Louth’s usual South African nemesis Brett Houston went on to notch up big scores of 80 and 70 respectively.

A late flurry of wickets saw Bracebridge contained to 279 for 8 off their 50 overs, with Amila Weththasinghe taking three wickets and Stewart West taking two. Tom Ryder stepping up to the plate in the first team bowled particularly impressively and secured the key scalp of Brett Houston, caught well by debutante Matt Elston. Young Richard Bell also performed very well behind the stumps deputising for the absent Graham West.

With several key batsmen absent and the in-form John Medler barely able to hold a bat due to painful hand injury, it was always going to be a tough ask for Louth to chase this target.

Worst still, quick wickets saw both openers Henry Tye and Laurence Scott back in the hutch off the spin bowling of Mathew Carter.

Weththasinghe and Stewart West put up some brief resistance, before both were caught out, leaving an inexperienced and youthful lower order to try and salvage something from the game.

Richard Bell, Tom Ryder and Matt Eslton all occupied the crease well, but found it difficult to score, however big Phil Nicholson really stepped up to the plate and struck a classy, patient and well-timed innings of 31 to give Louth’s score some respectability as they crept past 100.

Nicholson played one big shot too many and was brilliantly caught on the boundary by Paul Cook, who held on to a flat hit ball which would have travelled for six, and this signalled the end of Louth’s innings as they were rolled over for 114.

Louth’s loss saw Bracebridge consolidate their second position, whilst Louth remain in sixth place, but with several other teams now within touching distance of them.

Next week, Louth host Market Deeping at home and with several key players still absent from their line up, it is clear that senior players like Stewart West, Laurence Scott and Amila Weththasinghe will have to raise their game if Louth are to prevent a third loss in three games.

Thanks to club sponsors Kenwick Park Estate and match ball sponsor Classic Freight Limited.