Blanchard leads Banbury Great Escape

Ashley Blanchard’s maiden Home Counties Premier League fifty enabled Banbury to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at Whitepost Road on Saturday. Banbury snuck past Harpenden’s 193 all out with 1 wicket remaining after Luke Ryan had worked his way through the Hertfordshire sides batting line up taking 8-53.

Blanchard and Jimmy Phillips were the other wicket takers on a spin friendly surface and only Harpenden’s most experienced players had an answer to Ryan as Hertfordshire players Ben Frazer and Nick Lamb made 55 and 43 respectively and Australian Ben Clements chipped in with 36.

Off Spinner Frazer then took the new ball with left arm spinner Jon Ryan as Harpenden looked to capitalise on the conditions from the off. The plan paid dividends as the slow bowlers had Banbury reeling. Wickets fell at regular intervals and Banbury were in all sorts of trouble at 78-7 and eventually 103-8, barring the run out of Shahbaz Ali, all of Banbury’s wickets fell to spin.

However Blanchard eventually found an ally in Todd ‘Border’ Guthridge (20) and the pair put on a club record 52 for the 9th wicket before Guthridge was caught by ‘keeper Bennett-Baggs to complete Frazer’s 5 wicket haul.

This brought Phillips (18*) to the crease and left Banbury still requiring 39 runs for victory, an ask that would require another club record partnership. Phillips surpassed his total runs for the last 2 seasons combined, by getting off the mark with 4 over mid off from Fazer, and then he and Blanchard set about the rest of the task. With all 9 men on the boundary for every ball Blanchard faced he was forced to abandon his usual free flowing, clean hitting style for a more measured approach, his eventual 62* coming from 109 balls. The decisive moment came with Banbury needing 2 to win as Phillips edged seamer Lamb to Bennett-Bagg’s right, the ‘keeper failed to bag the chance however. Two overs later and with the scores level, Blanchard was able to prod Lamb in to a big enough gap to allow he and Phillips (neither renowned for their pace) to sprint home to the disbelief and joy of all Banbury players and supporters. Well done Blanch, you little beauty!!

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