Midsomer Norton grabbed a league double against Bristol last Saturday, keeping second place in the league table. The four-wicket win came after a mixed effort from the home side at Withies Lane, chasing down 149 on a difficult, soft wicket.
Having won the toss, Captain Nick Pang had no choice but to bowl, and it proved the right decision. The ball popped and turned at angles that troubled every batsman as Martin Cox and Pang spun an early web. Often the ball went too far, eluding the bat and wickets, giving Jon Harvey a treacherous time behind the stumps.
Despite what the pitch was doing, Norton bowled too many boundary balls and allowed Bristol to get off to a decent start, reaching 65–1. But when opener, Michael Lord, fell for 27, wickets began to fall at a regular clip. By the 48th over, Norton had got through the Bristol batting for 149, with Pang, Ben Strang, Chris Hampshire and Morgan Skipp taking two wickets apiece.
The pitch was still offering plenty to the bowlers early in Norton’s chase, and Bristol reduced the home side to 40–3. But a blistering, counter-attacking fifty from Dean Clifton saw Norton to certain victory. Clifton was hitting to all corners of the ground, cutting, driving and pulling his way to sixty from 68 balls, including seven fours and a solitary six. Cox provided ample support with a run-a-ball 34. Both fell within a boundary of victory, leaving Nick Potter to hit the winning runs in the 34th over.
Norton are twelve points behind Winterbourne with four games remaining, including what could be a pivotal final game of the season at Withies Lane between the top two if both take care of their other remaining fixtures.
This Saturday, Norton travel to Pak Bristolians; the game starts at 12.30 p.m. The Second XI are at home to Bohemians and the Third XI are at home to Timsbury. Both games start at 1.30 p.m. The Sunday XI remain at the top of the table and have an away fixture against Whitchurch, starting at 2 p.m.