Bedfordshire County Cricket Club made it two wins out of two in the NCCA arena with a tense four wicket victory against Northumberland at Bedford School.
The third stage of the Minor Counties cricket season sees the resumption of the longer three day format after the Twenty20 and One Day competitions reached a conclusion in June, and while Bedfordshire more than held their own there, they now have a real chance of promotion with red ball in hand.
The first day of the encounter at Bedford School on Sunday was also an opportunity for Bedford’s community to come together as the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Russell Beard hosted a garden party.
On the pitch however, Bedfordshire were making moves towards taking control of the game, bowling Northumberland out for just 126 in the first innings.
All rounder, Jamal Richards did the majority of the damage with an excellent spell of 6-23 with Northumberland opener, Harry Crawshaw – on the books at Durham – top scoring with 33.
By the end of the first day, Bedfordshire were 70 runs ahead thanks in large to a half century from Fayaz Homyoon and from there, never let their grasp slip as they secured their second red ball victory of July.
Bates ton secures win
Despite slipping to 204 all out in their first innings, and 104 from Northumberland’s Ross Whitfield in the second, Bedfordshire wrapped up victory on the final day yesterday (Tuesday) with an excellent unbeaten 100 from opener, Sam Bates.
Oliver McGee – who secured a five wicket haul in the first innings for the northerners – got two more but the target of 194 was reached in a little under 50 overs as Bedfordshire went top of NCCA Eastern Division Two with promotion now the aim.
That came after an opening day win against Cumbria at the beginning of the month, with the experienced Matt Coles taking 11 wickets across two innings to help secure the victory.
The former Kent bowler secured a first innings haul of 6-28 and that was backed up with 5-59 in the second as Cumbria were bowled out for 107 and 190 respectively, with Harry Gouldstone anchoring both innings for Bedfordshire at Furness Cricket Club.
Two games against Hertfordshire and a stronger Cambridgeshire side remain before the end of the season.
The white ball game
Earlier in the season, Bedfordshire had a mixed time of it in the Twenty20 and one day competitions.
Winning four and losing four in the T20 group stages was not enough to make it through to the knock out stages, where Staffordshire – led by former Bedford School student, James Kettleborough – took home the trophy with a tight 4-run victory against Cornwall.
Berkshire and Cumbria are due to face off in the NCCA Trophy one day final.