CRICKET: Newton salutes gr-eight Spalding show

Star man: Warren Nel (pictured batting) shone with bat and ball again.
Star man: Warren Nel (pictured batting) shone with bat and ball again.
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Bracebridge Heath (267-8) drew with Spalding (200-9): Stand-in Spalding skipper Josh Newton heaped praise on his team-mates after they picked up eight more points in their bid for Lincs ECB Premier League survival.

Having been set a target of 267-8 by hosts Bracebridge Heath on Saturday, Town refused to fold in their reply as they closed on a stubborn 200-9 to earn a losing draw.

Leading batsmen Warren Nel (85) and Mike Kearns (73) gobbled up the lion’s share of Town’s runs, while Joe Broomfield (12) almost got the visitors inside 75 per cent of their target and additional points.

The result leaves Spalding 32 points clear of second-from bottom Haxey, who lost heavily to Market Deeping.

An impressed Newton said: “I’m really proud of the team today. We did really well to get eight points out of a tough game.

“We are all very eager to get stuck into Louth next week.”

Hosts Bracebridge, perennial contenders for the title, won the toss and elected to bat on what can only be described as a road of a track.

Mike Kearns (1-47) and brother Charlie Kearns (2-75) both bowled with venom and aggression and were unlucky not to pick up early wickets.

Heath opener Paul Cook was in supreme form and stroked the ball to the boundary with notable disdain en-route to a sensational 117 from 137 balls.

Michael Kearns eventually got the breakthrough with the score on 96, as he slammed a sharp yorker under the bat of Nicholas John’s (31) bat, which sent leg stump cart wheeling.

Having got off to a good start Bracebridge then lost regular wickets thanks to South African superstar Nel (4-56).

The all-rounder bowled with splendid cunning and guile and once again managed to bamboozle numerous Bracebridge batsmen with his famous doosra delivery.

Spalding showed supreme grit and determination and managed to peg Bracebridge back to 267-8 off their 50 overs, with James Bentley (51) also on-song.

Town then got off to the worst possible start in their reply when Durban native Nabeel Bhayla was snared by Matt Carter (4-46) for just one.

But Nel and Michael Kearns put on a great stand of 147 for the second wicket.

Nel’s 85 included three sixes and nine fours, while Kearns found the rope 12 times in his 104-ball 73.

However, when both fell wickets tumbled at regular intervals, with Matt Bradley (5-64) the chief destroyer.

Young ace Broomfield struck some lusty blows down the order, but it was Simon Juckes (2no) and Maxwell Cusack (1no) who ensured Spalding ended up on 200-9 off their 50 overs.

Next up for Town is a crunch home tussle with relegation rivals Louth at Spalding Grammar School (12.30pm) on Saturday.