Lincolnshire CCC travelled to the superb surroundings of Bedford School to face Bedfordshire in the fourth of their Unicorns Eastern Division Championship matches of the season – knowing that a win with maximum batting and bowling bonus points could take them to the top of the table if results elsewhere went their way.
County debuts were given to Jack Timby and Ross Dixon, both of Woodhall Spa CC.
Bedfordshire won the toss and elected to bat and immediately were in trouble as they were reduced to 35 for three as Alex Willerton and Matt Carter took early wickets. A brilliant direct throw by debutant Ross Dixon ran out the home side’s captain, Andy Reynoldson, for 33 and Willerton, bowling with great pace, took two further wickets to leave the hosts on 98 for six.
Joe Ludlow battled hard for the home side to top score with 41 until he was bowled by Andy Carter. Ben Slawinski with 34 and Tom Brett 25 added useful lower order runs for the home side as they were finally dismissed in the 83rd over for 183. Lincs’s outstanding bowler was Willerton who took six for 15 off 19.4 overs.
Lincs lost the early wicket of Timby but Dan Freeman and Matt Lineker saw them to 87-1 by close of play on day one.
Freeman was dismissed early on day two by Monty Panesar for 30, and Sam Wood then joined Lineker to put Lincs in a commanding position. They added 164 for the third wicket before Wood was lbw for 85.
Lineker was dismissed immediately by Panesar for a brilliant 138, hitting the former England bowler around the ground.
Adam Tillcock (56) and Dominic Brown (45) then continued the onslaught to secure maximum batting points, whilst Carl Wilson (36 not out) and Dixon (16 not out) took the visitors past the 400 mark as their innings closed after 90 overs on 419-6 – a lead of 236.
Beds’ second innings was in complete contrast to their first as they battled hard to save the game. Their second innings lasted eight hours and they were in the 135th over of it when Lincs obtained the final wicket.
There were two outstanding innings for them. James Kettleborough was batting well when he received a blow to the head and had to retire. He later returned on day three to remain undefeated on 130. This was a superb innings of character, concentration and determination and one that put Bedfordshire in the game.
Ben Howgego showed what great ability he had and finally fell lbw to Tillcock for 98. Beds’ innings concluded on 387, leaving Lincs requiring 152 for victory in 25 minutes, plus a minimum of 17 overs in the final hour.
Wood was dismissed in the first over and Lineker fell for a quickfire 25 with the total on 39. Freeman and Brown then scored rapidly to add 95 for the third wicket to put Lincs in sight of victory. Freeman fell for 66 off 46 balls, including eight fours.
Brown finished the match with a huge six in his 59 not out as Lincs won with more than four overs to spare.
Lincs took a maximum 24 points from the match which, together with results elsewhere, placed them top of the Eastern Division, 10 points clear of second placed Suffolk.
The county club’s next three day fixture is against Northumberland at Jesmond CC, Newcastle, commencing next Sunday, July 30.