CRICKET: Louth move into second in ECB Premier with win over champions Sleaford

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Louth travelled to Sleaford in high spirits having won their last three games, but there was certainly no sense of over confidence, as it was always going to be a difficult task to beat the second placed, current league champions on their home turf.

Importantly, Louth skipper Andy Carrington had a change of luck and finally won a toss of the coin and immediately opted to have a bowl under slightly overcast conditions.

This was going to be a gamble with Sleaford boasting such a strong batting line up, including the in-form Lewis Kimber and league leading run scorer and Kiwi test player Tim Macintosh.

However, Carrington’s decision soon paid some dividends after Weththasinghe removed Kimber caught brilliantly by Sanders at gulley.

Two balls later Burgess’ off stump was sent cartwheeling by the Sri Lankan paceman and Sleaford were rocking at 33 for 2.

Some probing bowling from Weththasinghe and Stewart West went unrewarded as skipper Oliver Burford joined Macintosh and they put together a 50 run partnership.

However, the return of Carrington from the pavilion end saw him trap Burford LBW, just as it looked like Sleaford were getting on top. But again, Sleaford showed their class, as Hibberd now joined the stoic Macintosh to take the score to 106 for 3 at the drinks break.

Then the pivotal moment came immediately after drinks, as Tom Corden replaced the ailing West and clean bowled test opener Macintosh between his bat and pad with a jaffa of a delivery. Weththasinghe then came into his own and wickets fell regularly as both he and Carrington rotated from the Pavilion end where there was some seam movement and lack of bounce.

With a miracle catch in the deep by John Medler, which saw the ball lodged between his thighs, Louth’s fielding excelled and the pair rolled over the remaining Sleaford batsmen, with one wicket also for West, but it was Weththasinghe who took the plaudits taking 5 for 44.

It was a superb effort by all of the Louth seamers though who yet again were all asking questions of the batsmen with no let up from either end. Sleaford ended on 158 all out with 4 overs to spare.

Louth’s start, as has become the norm this season, faltered as Stewart West was bowled early and despite a brief stand from Medler and the other opener Laurence Scott, Medler soon followed him.

When Henry Tye then went for a duck 4 balls later, Louth were yet again in some trouble at 30 for 3. When the normally reliable and steadfast Scott also went for a well constructed 20, Louth were looking in dire straits at 40 for 4.

But this was a huge game for Louth and in big games, big characters come to the fore and Weththasinghe and Graham West steadied the sinking ship with a superb 100 run partnership characterised by sound defence and some dashing attacking play.

West hoisted Macintosh for a big six into the sight screen to take the score past 100 and Weththasinghe saw this as the signal to open up himself and began scoring at 6 runs an over with some impressive cut shots and straight drives.

With the total almost in sight Weththasinghe holed out to mid-off for an impressive knock of 66, but Tom Corden rounded off proceedings by hitting pace bowler Collins for two fours in three balls, leaving Louth with a comfortable five wicket victory.

The win saw Louth replace Sleaford in second place and within touching distance of the top spot.

With the second half of the season soon looming, Louth will be thrilled with their bowling and fielding performances, but know that if they are to mount a serious title challenge their top order must start firing.

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