STRATFORD can look forward to competing in the first ever final of the Warwickshire Smash at Edgbaston after sweeping aside Moseley Ashfield in the semi-finals.
The Panthers sealed a three-wicket victory in the rearranged semi at Bedworth to book a final date on Sunday, September 1 against Knowle & Dorridge at the home of the Bears.
The win in the county 100-ball competition completed a successful weekend for Stratford after the firsts won Saturday’s contest in the Warwickshire League Premier Division and the Bards chalked up only their second victory of the Cotswold Hills League Division Four campaign.
Dexter Purser’s firsts recorded a five-wicket success at home to Standard, with spinner James Urquhart the star man with a five-wicket haul.
Urquhart finished with 5-30 off 10.4 overs as he spearheaded a devastating bowling display to dismiss Standard for 130 in 40.4 overs.
Sam Douthwaite (2-28) and Archie Walker (2-37) also took wickets after Coventry side Standard decided to bat first.
Ryan Leybourne held their innings together with 69 as wickets tumbled around him, although they had been 72-3 at one point before they subsided.
Skipper Purser and Luke Nardone gave the Stratford reply the perfect start, putting on a run-a-ball 54 for the first wicket.
Both provided the bulk of the Stratford runs – Nardone top-scoring with 37 off 44 balls and Purser smacking 31 off just 34 deliveries.
First team call-ups Finlay Hatch (25) and Matthew Leatherdale (17) continued the good work before Ben Pigott (13no) saw them home in the 31st over.
Stratford remain fifth, 25 points behind Coventry & North Warwickshire, as they prepare for two home matches over the bank holiday. On Saturday they meet title favourites Walmley at Swans Nest Lane and then they face Cov & NW on Monday.
THE SECONDS slipped into the Division Four drop zone after a 55-run defeat at Leamington Khalsa.
With four games left, starting with Saturday’s trip to Castle Bromwich, they are now level on points with Bedworth and both are 22 points ahead of basement side Hunningham.
A half-century from No 8 batsman Puneet Arora proved crucial for Khalsa as they were bowled out for 174.
It was a combined effort from the Stratford bowlers with Tom Whiting the pick with 3-16 off a tidy ten overs. There were also two wickets from Henry Stride (2-20), Harry Abell (2-20) and Sam Gill (2-25).
However, Stratford’s batsmen could not stick around long enough for a match-winning innings, with Charlie Blake (25) and Richard Smith (20) the main contributors in their 119 all out.
MATT Rickett was the match-winner to help Stratford Bards defeat visitors Leek Wootton 2nds at Alscot Park in Cotswold Hills League Division Four.
Six of the Bards’ bowlers all picked up wickets to restrict Leek Wootton to 108-8 off their 40 overs. Simon Francis picked up 2-7 off his six overs and Nishi Kant took 2-12 off seven overs.
Opener Rickett then set up the run chase with 41 before he was the fourth wicket to fall with the score on 98.
George Dick (23) and Santhosh Yadav (18) also played their part and, although David Allison finished with 4-39, Stratford got home in the 20th over.
The Bards head to Bidford on Saturday.