Cricket: Title contenders Tunbridge Wells cut down Sevenoaks Vine

THIS important encounter was bedevilled by high winds but Tunbridge Wells knocked local rivals Sevenoaks Vine off the top spot in Kent League Premier Division, rising to second place in the process.

 With gusts reaching 40mph at the Nevill – two of the Railway End sightscreens were blown over – and a persistent drizzle falling, the match was reduced to 36 overs a side.

Vine skipper Luke Schlemmer won the toss and inserted the home side but after an early setback the home captain Chris Williams joined forces with the in-form Sam Stickler (37).

The latter led the way in a partnership of 102 for the second wicket as the visiting attack was worn down and then dominated.

Williams made a brisk and attractive 62 from 54 balls with four fours and three sixes, all the maximums coming within ten balls.

But the bowlers kept calm and both the set batsmen were quickly removed by Andrew Reid-Dick (2 for 38) as the score fell to 122 for 3.

Alex Williams now joined Julian O’Riordan to maintain the rhythm, however, putting on 78 in 13 overs, the former striking a vibrant 51 off 48 balls with five boundaries.

O’Riordan remained undefeated on 38 as Tom Parsons picked up 2 for 49 at the end, and the Vine were set a daunting 236 to keep themselves on top of the table.

Former Wells skipper Evert Bekker (35) proved the mainstay at the top of the Vine order as he saw his side slip to 23 for 3 thanks to some fine close catches.

Teenage left-armer Isaac Bepey (3 for 23) picked up two early scalps before Kent’s Adam Rouse (42) joined Bekker to add 55 for the fourth wicket.

But the first ball from Matt Barker (3 for 25) sent back Bekker with a thin edge and though Rouse kept forcing the pace, he received little support.

Another young bowler, Mark Mclean (2 for 21), soon deceived the all-rounder with a well-flighted spinner and when he holed out at 111 for 8 the writing was on the wall.

Bepey returned to wrap up the win by 95 runs, securing Wells’ fifth consecutive league triumph over their near neighbours since 2016 .

They moved closer into title contention, 13 points behind the new leaders Beckenham, as the Vine slipped to third, a point behind.

With three games left, Wells now travel to Beckenham on Saturday (August 17).


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