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Frome CC bt Wellington CC by 60 runs – Premier Somerset Division, Sat. 26th July

Frome First XI cemented their place at the top of the Somerset Division of the West of England Premier Division with a hard-fought 60-run victory over Wellington on Saturday.

After winning the toss and electing to bat first on a scorching hot day,, Frome’s usually reliable top order made a disastrous start. Three poor shots left them in early trouble at 22-3 after Paul Sanger (5) was caught at mid on, Bleakley (4) was caught at extra cover and Smith (1) was caught at square leg.

Stonell joined David Dredge with a large rebuilding task on. Dredge continued to be positive against the openers bowlers, cutting anything short away to the boundary. They took the score to 50 and the first drinks break at 17 overs and continued afterwards as Dredge reached an assured 50. The 100 come up in the 27th over and Frome looked to be back on track, however another burst of wickets to poor shots set them back again. First Stonell hit a full toss to extra cover for 12, before both Daniel Dredge and James Unwin were caught at mid on, to leave Frome in trouble again at 110-6.

Mark Sanger then put on the crucial partnership of the innings with Dredge. They mixed some strong running with boundary hitting as Wellington continued to attack, and moved the total past 150. A real momentum shift was taking place as the batters put the bowlers on the back foot, as Dredge was looking to attack the returning seam bowlers. He brought up a brilliant hundred with a straight six to rapturous applause before, with the score at 199, the partnership was broken as Sanger was bowled for a vital 34, just after hitting a big six of his own.

Dredge departed soon after for a majestic 115 and Neal followed soon after, before Wheeler and Hamblin took the score on to 218-9 from the 50 overs – a great recovery from the home side. Wellington started their reply in positive fashion as they had to, with Brockley in particular finding early boundaries. Just when the partnership was looking threatening Neal induced an edge behind from Brockley, however new man Sparks continued to play positively against some sloppy Frome bowling.

On a pitch favouring spin, Frome turned to Mark Sanger and Hamblin, the latter in particular managing to dry up the runs, but with the score at 73-1 at the first drinks break, Wellington were well in the game. Sanger was locked in a fierce game of ‘cat and mouse’ with Sparks, each trying to predict the other’s next move, but it was Sanger who came out on top, enticing Sparks to skew in the air to Stonell who took an excellent catch.

Where this Frome side have become so strong in recent years is when they sense an opening, and from Sparks’ departure they put the squeeze on Wellington giving nothing away, and eventually the pressure told.

With Sanger (1-39) and Hamblin (0-15) finishing their 10 overs Wellington sensed their chance against Frome’s new bowlers, however Bleakley and David Dredge held their nerve to run through Wellington. Bleakley picked up three wickets – two to catches by Smith – and Dredge another three with his canny off spin as Frome moved towards another victory.

Two smart run outs by Paul Sanger and David Dredge – capping a superb all-round performance, gave Frome victory by 60 runs to keep them clear at the top of the Somerset Division,

Thanks to match ball sponsors Pangs Fish Bar. With just five games remaining, Frome have a massive opportunity to move closer to the title when they host third-placed Uphill Castle this Saturday.