Ralph grounded despite a fine start for Madeley

Skipper James Ralph is refusing to get carried away with Madeley’s impressive start to the Henshalls Shropshire County Cricket League season.

Action from Madeley's win. (Photo: John Cutts)
Action from Madeley's win. (Photo: John Cutts)

After failing to win a game during last summer’s revamped competition that saw the top-flight clubs split into two groups, Madeley are in a three-way tie at the top of the Premier Division after kicking off this campaign with back-to-back victories.

Ralph’s men followed up their opening day success over Frankton with an eye-catching five-wicket triumph away to last season’s play-off winners Wellington.

And while Ralph is delighted to start the new season in positive fashion, the number one target remains steering clear of trouble.

“We have managed to scramble across the line in both games, really,” said the former Shropshire skipper. “In the first game, Frankton were favourites to win for most of the game but we picked up a couple of lucky wickets at the right time.

“On Saturday, I think the pitch was a bit of a leveller, every ball seemed like an event.

“But in both games our seamers have bowled very well.

“They have been threatening, kept the pressure on and bowled in good areas. And we have taken wickets at important moments.

“Madeley didn’t win a game last year and these two wins have lifted the morale, and I am delighted with the start. But we are under no illusions and we know we are probably going to be in a scrap at the other end of the table.

“We have 10 cup finals against certain sides that we feel will be near the bottom of the table and we need to try to win those games.

“Other sides are steamrolling sides and putting up scores of 290 and 300-plus. We are never going to get those runs and we are going to have to fight and scrap in every game.”

Seamer Martin Boyle was the star of Saturday’s success.

He took the first five Wellington wickets on his way to figures of 5-36 from 12 overs.

And the hosts never recovered from being reduced to 34-5, finally falling for 104 with Dan Lloyd (39) and Sam Bloor (28 not out) the only batsmen to reach double figures. Chris Hudson (3-29) backed Boyle up with the ball.

A half-century stand between openers Kelvin Rogerson(22) and Andrew Lloyd (28) set Madeley on their way with Ralph then seeing his side across the line with an unbeaten 31. Bloor picked up 3-13 for Wellington.

A superb undefeated century from Maisam Hasnain Jaffri helped Whitchurch to a second successive victory.

Opener Jaffri stroked his way to a brilliant 189 as Whitchurch piled up 294-3 from their 50 overs against Shelton. Skipper Andy Jones made 52.

In reply, seamer Dan Bowen (3-34) bagged two early wickets to reduce Shelton to 29-2. Ben Matthews (56 not out), Tim Brierley (48) and Pabel Kumar Saha (30) offered resistance but Shelton then lost their last five wickets for 35 as they succumbed for 190. Winter signing Ryan Brown picked up 4-49 from 14 overs.

Sentinel are also two wins from two and also had an opening batsman reaching three figures.

Steven Gray made a fine 133 to help his side pile up 319-6 against Shrewsbury seconds. James Shaw (45) and Ed Ashlin (37) provided support. Shaw then took centre stage with the ball, helping himself to a magnificent haul of 7-25 from 13.4 overs as Shrewsbury were dismissed for 170 – Richard Williams top scored with an unbeaten 64 while Llyr Thomas made 36.

Quatt had to settle for a winning draw from their clash with Frankton, with another opener joining the century club.

Dan Plank made exactly 100 out of Quatt’s total of 289-7.

Fellow opener Tom Whitney added 48 and number three Shakeel Richards 51 as Quatt declared after 45 overs.

But despite giving themselves an extra five overs to try to prise out Frankton and bagging two wickets without a run on the board, Quatt saw their victory push ended by Thomas Wilkie (79) and Jordan Parry (84) not out as Frankton made 234-6 in reply.

Ludlow opened their season with a 26-run success against Allscott Heath.

Richard Taylor (74) and Sam Alford (44) were the main contributors in Ludlow’s total of 195. Jason Summers, Carl Starling and Daniel Brentnall all bagged three wickets.

Skipper Louis Watkins and Joe Williams then led Ludlow to victory.

Opening bowler Watkins took 5-68 and Williams 4-37 as Allscott fell for 169 in reply despite an unbeaten 42 from captain Jason Allen.

Worfield bounced back from their opening-day defeat to open their account.

Spinners Ryan Quiney (5-42) and Matthew Rees (5-31) shared top billing and the wickets as Newport were rolled over for 115 after being 44-0.

An unbeaten 29 from skipper Will Cook then helped Worfield to a six-wicket success.

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