WARINGSTOWN suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday, as fellow title hopefuls Instonians pulled off a five-wicket victory at The Lawn.
The villagers will have been disappointed they only managed 187 for nine batting first, and true to form the visitors then eased to a comfortable win despite a late wobble.
Instonians did have the advantage of bowling first on a helpful pitch for the seamers. James Hall initially made batting look easy, with his first seven scoring shots going to the boundary, but in truth the ball beat the bat on a host of occasions.
Josh Hall was run out by a direct hit after riding his luck and when Lee Nelson fell in soft fashion, caught and bowled by off-spinner James Shannon, Waringstown were wobbling on 53 for two.
But James Hall continued to look in superb touch and it was a contentious decision that saw him back in the pavilion. He was rapped on the top of the pad and although it looked like the ball was heading over the stumps, the umpire’s finger was raised, and Hall was gone for 59 from 77 balls.
From the relative comfort of 101 for two, Waringstown were soon 164 for eight and they had few excuses as a succession of batsmen played poor shots. Obus Pienaar dragged a long-hop from Andrew White into the hands of deep mid-wicket and Kyle McCallan, who was dropped on two previous occasions, followed suit off the impressive Eugene Moleon.
With wickets clattering around him at least Jonathan Bushe remained composed. His unbeaten 38 from 44 balls dragged Waringstown towards respectability, but with a long tail, he was unable to take the risks he might have liked.
The ease with which Bushe made his runs served notice that this had become a placid pitch, and although Phil Eaglestone trapped Neil Russell lbw for a duck, it was a false dawn for the home side. Eaglestone aside, their seam bowling looked worryingly toothless and only a wonder catch from the left-arm seamer off Gary Kidd stopped Shannon (28 from 42 balls) in full flow.
John Stevenson (43 from 103 balls) and the almost effortless White (55 from 62, including seven fours) then gave Waringstown an object lesson in how to bat on this pitch.
Neither took chances as Waringstown had done, but then they barely needed to considering how many four-balls were served up.
Waringstown at least fought back in the game’s dying moments. White fell to Eaglestone (2-23), Stevenson wandered down the pitch and was stumped and the West Indian Carleon Broom fell cheaply.
At 152 for five the outcome was suddenly not a foregone conclusion but the impressive South African Nicholai Smith (22 no) and Jordan McClurkin provided a timely undefeated 36-run stand.
For Waringstown the arrival of Greg Thompson from hockey can’t come soon enough. They look a quality bowler and a batsman short and Thompson should solve that issue. The return of David Dawson from injury would also be handy.