Beds slump to defeat

Martin Weightman
Martin Weightman

By mid-morning of the second day of the Unicorns Championship match at Longton, Bedfordshire had got themselves into a dominant position against Staffordshire.

Yet by the end of the day Staffordshire had all but wrapped up victory.

There were three reasons for this dramatic turnaround – a Staffordshire last wicket partnership of 112, a plethora of no-balls (34) and wides (nine) which contributed to 69 extras and an inexplicable second innings collapse by Bedfordshire.

The visitors must have also been disappointed not to pick up maximum batting points in their first innings on a good pitch.

Charlie Thurston went for a duck early on but Luke Thomas (63) and Dan Blacktopp (54) laid the foundations for a good total with a second wicket partnership of 120.

Four wickets then went down for 35 and just when George Thurstance looked as though he was getting Bedfordshire back on course, he was out to an incredible diving catch low at mid-off for 39.

In the end it was due to another fine innings from Martin Weightman (67) and some lusty hitting from Shabbz Hussain (25) that Bedfordshire reached 286.

Afaq Babar, in between no-balls, then produced a wonderful delivery to get rid of Kadeer Ali, brother of England’s Moeen, and also accounted for Andy Martin, both well held at the wicket by Alex Martin, and in the morning Staffordshire slumped to 96-5.

But then things started to go wrong for Bedfordshire as Hill marshalled the tail and scored a brilliant unbeaten 110 himself.

It was the last wicket partnership with Byrne (44) though, which completely demoralised Bedfordshire.

Instead of having a healthy first innings lead, they found themselves trailing by 63 and things soon went from bad to worse.

Only Thurston (40), Sam Johnson (21) and Alex Martin batted with any confidence as Bedfordshire were shot out for 138, Byrne completing a good day by taking 6-38.

So Staffordshire found themselves needing only 76 for victory and only bad light and rain prevented them from achieving the target before the end of the second day.

They wrapped up proceedings on Tuesday morning, winning by nine wickets.