Spin twins Marsh and Ashcroft reap rewards after stunning Thornton catch

Jonathan Wigley and Zack Fagg combined to put on 141 for Leamington's first wicket. Picture: Morris Troughton
Jonathan Wigley and Zack Fagg combined to put on 141 for Leamington's first wicket. Picture: Morris Troughton

Leamington held their nerve during a nail-biting finish to beat Harborne by 24 runs in Birmingham League Division One.

Winning the toss, Harborne elected to bowl first on a used wicket and were soon up against it as Zack Fagg (62) and Jonathan Wigley (60) batted positively during an excellent opening partnership of 114.

David Bailey (25) then joined Wigley in a partnership of 47 but when both fell in quick succession, it was left to Warwickshire professional Tom Lewis to maintain the momentum for the home outfit.

Lewis eventually fell for an aggressive 75 and was well supported by captain Rob Williams (28 not out) as Leamington racked up an impressive 304 for five.

Darren Franklin was the best of the Harborne bowlers with three for 70.

In reply, the Harborne innings followed a very similar pattern as openers Franklin (44) and Arnold put on 102 for the first wicket.

However, the introduction of spin twins Mark Ashcroft and Jamie Marsh helped bring Leamington back in the game as Ashcroft picked up two early wickets.

Overseas star Fernando then joined Arnold (84) in a partnership of 87 before Arnold was out stumped to Marsh after playing a poor shot.

The key moment of the game came with Harborne on 230 for three with plenty of overs left and still looking like the firm favourites as Fernando was brilliantly caught on the boundary by Grant Thornton off the bowling of Jamie Marsh.

The visitors then had no answer to the excellent bowling of Marsh (5-72) - picking up his second successive five-wicket haul - and Ashcroft (4-85) as they crumbled under the pressure of the run chase.

As the game went into the final over, Harborne were hanging on for a draw but Thornton had other ideas as he clean bowled Badger with two balls to spare.

Leamington 3rds overcame the loss of their first three batsmen to run-outs to claim a comfortable Cotswold Hills Premier Division win at Shipston and move closer to preserving their top-flight status.

Set a target of 226, Leamington got off to a good start before the first of three run-outs ended the opening partnership at 55.

A second run-out at 66 brought Tom Davison (70 not out) to the wicket and the fleet-of-foot batsman avoided the fate of his predecessors, steering his side to victory with over four overs and four wickets to spare in partnerships, with Liam Killian (61) and Billy Hallett (38).

Earlier, Dan McCarthy (3-34) had led the Leamington bowlers in restricting Shipston to 225 for nine, with only Morris (63) and Betteridge (50) making significant contributions.

 Berkswell Under-17s claimed a thrilling four-wicket win over Leamington in the Warwickshire Youth League’s Group Two, overhauling Spa’s 136 for nine off the penultimate ball with Joshua Aspinall (32) top-scoring.