By Matthew Slugg

IT was a disappointing weekend for Penarth Cricket Club as they suffered three disappointing batting displays out of four on Saturday as the first uninterrupted weekend of cricket this summer proved to be one to forget.

The first team returned to action as Chepstow visited the Athletic Field for the first time in the premier league and escaped with the most dramatic of wins in a low scoring encounter on a day where the newly refurbished electronic scoreboard got its first airing.

After the visitors chose to bat here was little to suggest what was to come as Ben Wellington ripped out the Chepstow top order in ruthless fashion with 4 for 27.

In real trouble at 35 for 5, it was opener Gareth Ansell who held the innings together for his team, adding 35 with Jason Dobbie and 30 with Ben Hope-Bell on his way to an excellent half century.

The Penarth spinners Richard Skone, Will Skone and Mark Thomas were their usual reliable selves and shared the remaining wickets between them, Ansell eventually stumped by Llyr Morris off Thomas for 53, as Chepstow left six overs unused to fall to 133 all out.

As they had done a couple of weeks previously, Penarth allowed themselves to be bogged down in the early part of the reply and by the time openers Tashaffi Shams and Jack Thomas fell in quick succession they found themselves 24 for 2 from 13 overs.

The going remained slow and although it was 15 overs until the next wicket fell, that of George Hatfield, the score had reached only 53 for 3.

With pressure beginning to build a middle order collapse duly ensued with Wellington, Nick Morgan, Greg Cross, Richard Skone and Morris all going cheaply.

By the time Will Skone followed for 2 Penarth had slumped to 94 for 9 and victory for Chepstow looked assured.

Few on the ground would have expected what followed as Morgan Humphreys and Mark Thomas made light of the situation with a perfect example of positive running and putting the bowlers under pressure.

The pair managed just the single boundary, but each scored at a run a ball and by the time the penultimate over began Penarth needed just 10 to win.

Seven of those runs had been scored inside that over before the game took one further dramatic turn as Sam Hope-Bell drew Thomas down the track and Ansell did the rest, executing a smart leg side stumping off the wide to secure victory for his team by just a single run.

Thomas had made 18, Humphreys was unbeaten on 19.

A second XI showing no fewer than five changes from the team who beat Cardiff the previous week faired even worse with the bat on their trip to St Fagans.

Batting first, Penarth were grateful to a sizeable extras count as only three batsmen made double figures with unlikely opener Tom Pascoe top scoring with 19 as the Bears were dismissed for just 114.

A determined display with the ball meant Penarth gave themselves a chance of an unlikely victory as Lewis Ingram and Andrew Graveson bagged early wickets as the hosts stumbled to 35 for 4.

An excellent and brisk 45 from Ollie Sherwood proved the difference, and although spinners Rhys Mottram and Neil Stephens picked up a brace of wickets apiece to leave St Fagans wobbling again at 95 for 7 the home side steadied themselves in time to secure a three-wicket win.

The bright spark on an otherwise poor batting day came back at The Athletic Field where third team opener Matt Moss scored the club’s first century of the season, and his first for the club, to steer his team to victory by the small matter of 185 runs over Ton Pentre.

Ably supported by David Harrison and James Docherty initially, and then by a characteristically entertaining 76 not out from Robert Crimp, Moss’s efforts saw Penarth to a mammoth 301 for 4 from their 40 overs.

The visitors never threatened to make a game of it despite a fine 81 from Mark Thomas, who was the only batsman to make double figures, as Tony Evans claimed five wickets and Luke Summerfield three to bundle the visitors out for 116.

The fourth team visited Monmouth where they suffered with the bat and were all out for just 68, despite 22 not out from Dan Grosfils.

It was far from plain sailing for the home batsmen either as skipper Andrew Prickett picked up 4 for 14 and Julien Humphreys and Avinash Mehrotra two wickets apiece before David Teague’s 26 not out steered Monmouth home by just two wickets.

The Sunday XI welcomed the Cardiff University Staff to the Athletic field where 16 year old Kreshay Bharwani provided the highlight with a sparkling 97 not out as he guided his team to a four wicket win.

Former Penarth man Andrew Steadman made 57 for the Staff before Andrew Prickett took his weekend tally to eight wickets as the visitors made 164 all out.

Early wickets in the Penarth reply meant the target looked a good one before Bharwani dominated the rest of the innings, ably supported by Dominic Dwyer and Martin Dennett, as Penarth made their target for the loss of 6 wickets in just 26 overs.

There was almost a full week of junior fixtures where St Fagans held the upper hand over Penarth with victories in three age groups before Friday saw the start of the All Stars and Dynamos programmes for 2021 with the small matter of 150 young cricketers beginning their journeys with the club.

The first team will hope for an improvement in their fortunes as they visit Gorseinon on Saturday, while seconds and thirds host Chepstow and Blackwood and the fourths visit Newport.

The first team welcome Cowbridge to the Athletic Field on Sunday in the Welsh Cup, with friendly action at Southerndown also scheduled.

There is a full list of junior matches in midweek. You can keep up with the action by following the club on Twitter and Instagram (@penarthcricket) and Facebook.

The club would like to extend their thanks to sponsors David Baker and Co, Curo and Churngold.