OAs lose top spot as Sandford stars for Redbourn

Old Albanians relinquished top spot after their batting line-up dissolved in the heat of Redbourn’s bowling line up.

Chasing 144, only one OA batsmen surpassed 15 runs – Jack Reynolds with an unbeaten 31 – and eight failed to reach double figures as they were bowled out for 100 runs.

In fact, it was a bad day all round for OAs who, thinking their opening bowler would arrive shortly after the start, chose to bowl first and subsequently had to endure the first 28 overs with a makeshift attack.

Zahid Khan deputised manfully with an unbroken spell of 14 overs for just 27 runs, but two key chances were spilled: Gary Sandford on five with the score at 10-1, and Dan Roe on 15 at 42-1, and it was their second-wicket stand of 84 that gave Redbourn a footing in the game.

When Ahsan Ali did arrive for his first game of the season he needed just nine balls to separate the pair when he bowled Roe for 34, and he soon accounted for Sandford (54).

From this point, the innings turned in OAs’ favour as Ali and Naseer Ahmed worked their way through the visiting batsmen and the innings closed on 144-9.

This looked to be at least 30 short of par on a good Woollams wicket but disciplined bowling, good fielding and the high-class keeping of Sandford made it look a very demanding target.

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None of the OAs’ batsmen were able to make a substantial impact and after 20 overs the score was a mere 33-3, and it had taken 19.5 overs to score the first boundary.

Sandford had taken the first of three catches and had executed a fine leg-side stumping to account for Zahid Khan off the left-arm seam of Tom Whyte.

Thereafter, wickets fell at regular intervals as batsman after batsman perished to ill-judged or ill-executed attacking strokes in a vain attempt to break an increasing stranglehold.

Jon Fleming bowled 15 consecutive overs for just 25 runs while Tom Whyte reeled off 16 overs to take 4-28.

The four points taken from the game meant that OAs dropped to fourth place in the Division Two table with 153 points, 23 points adrift of new Leaders St Margaretsbury who comfortably beat County Hall, and 22 points behind second-placed Leverstock Green, who had chased down 220 to beat Hemel Hempstead 2nds.