Stretford continued their fine form in recording a powerful 122 run victory away against fiscally stimulated Walshaw on Saturday.
From the moment Corey Fagen helped Ali’s first ball out the ground there was a sense of excitement that iCare sposnored Stretford could take advantage of a short boundary, solid wicket, rapid field, previously beaten opposition, heightened belief, underdog spirit and a lost ball; truly a perfect a storm.
Stretford piled on runs as quickly as a a retired footballer gains pounds. Corey Fagan again weighed in with a 119 from only 60 balls. Walshaw simply had no answer to Fagan’s relentless stroke play, hitting nine fours and nice sixes and instantly damaging Walshaw’s confidence
Despite Fagan’s fireworks it was fellow Australian country boy Dillen Watson who controlled the remainder of the innings falling five short of his own richly deserved century.
Close friends Fagan and Watson have proven a big hit for Stretford and it was fitting that they were batting together when Fagan passed 100 for the first time, building a 110 run partnership in the process.
Adding to his half century against high flying Greenfield, Matt Armstrong chipped in with 47 during another 100 run partnership with Watson and provided a welcome return to form for the promising U19 captain.
Even the presence of ex-India Test match batsman Wasim Jaffer in the Walshaw ranks could not prevent Stretford amassing 316/7 who stood motionless at mid wicket as cricket balls whizzed by.
It was a day to forget for the Walshaw bowlers. Australian Weal took three wickets for a hefty 83 runs and Ali was swatted for 98 off 15 overs. Only Leg Spinner Khan, who did not play in the previous cup game, returned an economy rate below 5 runs per over finishing with 2 for 65 off 15 overs.
Walshaw showed a a distinct lack of intent in their reply however Stretford’s bowlers, especially skipper Benjy Evans, were able to extract more life out of a docile pitch than that of the opposition.
Walshaw slumped to 30 for 3 with Evans outstanding. Bhojani gloved a rising delivery from Evans behind for a sedate 11, Grant found the leading edge of the dangerous McClung who was caught at mid off for 12 and Khan steered a catch to Sarfraz at gully off Evans.
Walshaw were now in a massive hole and Jaffer showed his world class talent in dominating in a 70 run partnership between himself and Greer who fell for 13. Wickets tumbled but Jaffer seemed impregnable. He serenely passed his century but Stretford chipped away at the other batsmen cleverly attempting to starve him of strike. Indeed Stretford limited Jaffer to 77 balls but still had the time to stroke 13 fours and five sixes before holing out to deep mid wicket for an average bolstering yet impressive 111 off Grant.
Benjy Evans was the chief destroyer for Stretford who picked up 4-40 and Alex Grant’s purple patch continues taking 3 for 49. The pair have formed a formidable opening partnership and have now taken 25 wickets between them against some quality oppositions.
More hard work is required to move up the league table however the brand of exciting and spirited cricket being played by such a young side is heartening
Stretford’s 2ndXI lost at home to Dukinfield by 51 runs however Matt Laker turned in a brilliant all round performance taking 6 for 47 with the ball and scoring 79 runs with the bat.
Next week the first team travel to Heyside and the second team host Unsworth.