WITH the weather of the past week as awful as it was in and around South Wales, there were no real surprises when Penarth Cricket Club 1st XI’s fixture away to Panteg was subject to an early call off on Saturday morning.

That said, knowing the micro climate that is Penarth, there were no doubts that the 2nd XI, who started the day 8 points clear of closest title contenders Port Talbot, would get a game in against Malpas who find themselves towards the bottom of the league table.

2nd XI captain Tim “Windy” Miller duly lost the toss, his first for 12 games, and Malpas decided they would like to have a bowl in helpful conditions, and on a pitch that had been under covers for 3 days whilst the rain pelted down.

Veteran opener James Erasmus, a constant at the top of the order for Penarth, was joined by Nathan Piddock for the first time, and together started their new batting relationship at the top of the order, keeping the scoreboard ticking along nicely, punishing the bad ball.

Piddock was the main aggressor, but was the first to go for a well-made 37 with the scoreboard on 70 in the 18th over; just the platform Penarth needed on what looked an uneasy wicket at times.

Nitin Mathias (34) joined Erasmus, who was next to fall for a patient and watchful 18 with the score on 81. Mathias was joined by young Lewis Ingram (29) and together kept the score ticking along nicely before Mathias was adjudged LBW shortly after the drinks break.

Wickets began to fall at regular intervals from here on as Malpas made their way back in to the game, finally bowling Penarth out for 200 in the 47th over, but not before a big, straight 6 from Penarth’s big, burly opening bowler Andy Graveson.

After a splendid tea, Penarth began with an early breakthrough via Graveson who had Gill (3) caught well by wily spinner Neil Stephens at gully. Malpas’ captain Gregory Simmonds (43) led the fightback along with Roahn Mohindru (19), getting Malpas through to drinks without further loss as they battled twin speedsters Piddock (10-3-18-0) and Miller (7.2-1-23-1), moving the score on to 75/1.

The introduction of Neil Stephens proved the inspiration for Penarth, as in the third over after drinks Stephens got the double breakthrough that Penarth needed to get themselves back in to the game, thanks to the helping hands of skipper Tim Miller.

This signalled the end for Malpas who lost wickets at regular intervals through some excellent bowling from Stephens who finished his spell with match figures of 5/25 from his 10 overs of mystery and moon balls. Miller finished the job off, claiming his 24th league scalp of the season, as Penarth secured a 58 run victory, and in doing so extended their lead at the top to 10 points with just 2 games of the season remaining.

Penarth’s 3rd XI, led by Dan Thacker travelled to Vale 2nd XI’s home ground of Corntown hoping to inflict defeat on the runaway league leaders, knowing the challenge was going to be tough with Vale strengthening their side after their 1st XI’s fixture fell foul to the weather.

Vale won the toss, and elected to bowl, taking full advantage of the conditions. Luke Tillbrook (40) and Conrad Adams (28) steadied the ship after an early wicket to put on a 51 run partnership, but Vale took wickets just as partnerships began to build for Penarth, through some good bowling.

David Harrison (19) and Thacker (18) got Penarth up to a total of 125/6 from their allotted 40 overs, knowing that they would need to bowl well to have any real chance of getting a win.

Joe Walker (5-2-5-0) kept it tight at one end, but Vale were able to take the game away from Penarth through regular first team batter Snelson (24) who fell first after a quick start. Vale then took the game away from Penarth through Hiles (41) and Kellend (55 not out), taking just one further wicket as Vale rattled out 8 wicket winners with more than 11 overs to spare.

There was no luck for Andrew Prickett’s 4th XI, who were due to be hosting Hopkinstown 2nd XI. Sadly for the 4th’s, they fell victim to a very last minute cancellation from the visitors, just 23 minutes before the game was scheduled to start at Penarth. A real disappointment for the 4th’s who sit at the top of their respective division.

This coming week sees Penarth’s 1st XI host Malpas in their penultimate game, as we thank ball sponsors Graham & Peggy Crimp for their continued support of the club.

This week also sees the title chasing 2nd XI travel to Bridgend, the 3rd XI hosts Christchurch and the top of the table 4th XI travel to Chepstow with promotion in their sights.