The season cannot end quickly enough for Wootton’s 2nd XI down in Division 5, as their losing streak now stretches to three matches. Batting first against a youthful Earlswood side, Wootton lost regular wickets on a capricious wicket which occasionally remained ruinously low. Wily senior opening bowler Snipe excelled in his spell of 10-3-26-4, dismissing the Wootton top three, while an array of technically gifted and promising youngsters were given a chance to shine at the other end. Pocket rockets E Plain (4.3-1-11-1) and C Bennett (4-0-20-2) particularly caught the eye with their devilish leg-spin and nagging seam respectively, as Wootton were shot out for a mere 103 in under 31 overs. The total, such as it was, was built around contributions at the top from Scott Jones (22) and Ben Bramley (19), and then the lower order engine room of Dan McKenzie (14) and Dec Cook (21). A stunning horizontal flying catch to the right by Warwickshire under-14 representative Hashim Iqbal at cover to dismiss Wootton’s dangerous Chris Roberts typified the skills that Earslwood’s youths are perfecting, and many of the side will doubtless excel at senior levels in the years to come.
After a luxurious tea, Wootton made a strong fist of defending their meagre total, at one point reducing the hosts to 92-8 thanks to incisive spells from Pream Kumar (7-3-20-3) and Chris Roberts (10-5-22-4). However, fresh-faced youngsters C Bennett (19) and E Plain (7 not out) were once again to the fore at the end of the Earlwood innings, as they eased their side off the bottom of Division 5 with two wickets remaining and 28 of their 60 overs to spare. Earlier in the innings, Hashim Iqbal (18) and A Booker (14) had kept Earlswood in the game as Wootton looked set to conclude an unlikely turnaround.
Safe from relegation, Wootton now have the chance to test themselves one last time this Saturday, against the undefeated runaway league leaders Claverdon back at the Memorial Ground in the final game of the season.