HIMBLETON returned to winning ways with an emphatic 36-run win over local rivals Avoncroft in Worcestershire County League Trophy Group B on Saturday.
Jon Critchlow (141) returned to form with an imperious century and was well supported by Ali Pretty (42) and skipper Sean Jenkins (30).
The trio ensured the hosts amassed a commanding 252 off their 40 overs before later Sam Jenkins (3-36) and Greg Dale (3-44) were the pick of the Himbleton bowling attack as they moved back into contention just six points off the summit.
Having chosen to bat, Himbleton were soon in trouble following the loss of opener Stuart Dickenson – caught at deep third man – and the promoted Tom Godwin, as both fell victim to the evergreen Paul Athey (2-42).
Critchlow and Pretty began to rebuild and, having seen off the opening attack of Athey and Jon Hunter (4-27), they started to tuck into the change bowling.
Having got their side to 130-2, Pretty fell and was soon followed by his brother Richard Pretty and Dan Whadcock.
At 160-5 with ten overs left the hosts needed impetus and that was handsomely provided by Sean Jenkins whose sprightly cameo accompanied Critchlow’s continued butchery. The pair accelerated the Meadow Boys to just short of 250 before late wickets fell in a flurry.
Avoncroft’s reply got off to a supersonic start with Duncan Roke (38) and Dan Elliott (30) tearing into the Himbleton opening attack.
Neither was shy in showing the full face of the bat and the ball had to be recovered from the neighbouring field more often than the home captain would have liked.
They raced to 60 off the first seven overs before Sam Jenkins brought a bit of calm to the proceedings by dismissing Roke courtesy of an exceptional catch by Critchlow.
Wickets fell at regular intervals but Chris Pitt (74) stood firm and rode his luck to reach a deserved half-century.
However, his dismissal by the canny Jamie Alford (1-29) ensured Himbleton could relax in the last few overs as the run rate climbed to more than ten an over. Late wickets for Dale put the icing on the cake of a good win.
Himbleton captain Sean Jenkins said: “That was an outstanding knock from Critch. It was fantastic to see him back to his best after a disappointing season last year.
“He bided his time and then cashed in, as a classy opener always should. Ali Pretty’s return to form is also encouraging for the rest of the season and our bowlers stuck to their task in the face of one almighty onslaught from their openers.
“After last week’s write-off it was great to bounce back with a good win. With the 2nd XI also winning – three from three now – pressure on places is growing so a few of the lads will want to perform this weekend (home to Astwood Bank 2nds).”