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Frome CC bt Staplegrove by 139 runs- Premier Somerset Division, Sat. 9th Aug

Frome first XI all but sealed the WEPL Somerset Division title and a return to the Bristol and Somerset a division for the first time in 12 years on Saturday. 

An unprecedented fourth hundred in as many matches from David Dredge saw them hammer nearest rivals Staplegrove by 139 runs to leave them 47 points clear at the top with three games remaining. After the long trip to Staplegrove Frome lost the toss and were asked to bat first. Openers Paul Sanger and David Dredge looked to make a solid start against the new ball, but lost Sanger early when he was trapped LBW by Bishop for 7.

Bleakly joined David Dredge and the pair played circumspectly, taking the score to 25 after 10 overs. From there they began to accelerate the run rate although took few risks, aiming to set a solid platform for the latter overs.

As the opening bowlers tired the bad balls became increasingly frequent and both batsmen were ruthless in punishing them. At the introduction of the change bowling Frome changed gear, putting both under pressure and reaping the rewards as the innings gained momentum. At the halfway stage they were well-placed at 107-1.

The pattern continued after the drinks break as Dredge passed 50. A big score was now looking a real prospect as Bleakley too brought up his half century to the applause of the travelling support.

With 10 overs remaining Frome passed the 200 mark, and shortly after David Dredge brought up a magnificent 100 – unbelievably his fourth in four innings – just when it really matters.  Bleakly fell for a superb 87, but Dredge continued to flay the Staplegrove bowling. A further four fours and five sixes saw his race to 150, and together with a cameo from Dan Dredge (16) saw Frome to 308-5 from their 50 overs.

Frome knew they were have to remove a few key danger men to ensure victory. Staple grove made a solid start on what was a decent surface, finding a few early boundaries. In the sixth over Frome made an early breakthrough when Pantling mistimed a drive off Wheeler and was smartly taken by Bleakley running back.

With the dangerous Sizer and Bishop now together Frome knew the game now there for the taking, and with the score at 55 they got the key wicket as Sizer was brilliant caught one-handed in the gully by Hamblin off Wheeler.

The score was quickly 60-4 as Neal removed Rowe (0) and G Bishop (1), however from there the home size built a solid partnership. Both Frome openers were replaced after strong spells by Mark Sanger and Hamblin and they immediately squeezed the batsmen. The fifth wicket arrived when Reed mistimed a drive to Dan Dredge for 27.

There followed another partnership between Jeanes and Bishop although the pace was such that there was still significant work to be done by Staplegrove to get near the huge target.

The score passed 150 when Jeanes misjudged a leave and was LBW to Bleakley for 15, and five runs later the game was all but ended when Bishop was well caught by Unwin off Bleakley for a well made 59.

Hamblin picked up a deserved second wicket when he bowled Hardy for a duck, and Frome were on the brink when Unwin and Bleakley combined again to dismiss Dunn (6). And the celebrations could finally begin when Read was caught by Hamblin, leaving Staplegrove 169 all out and Bleakley with four wickets.

This Saturday Frome return home looking to make the title mathematically certain as they host Bishops Lydeard, starting at 12.30.

Frome CC bt Uphill Castle by 7 wickets – Premier Division, Sat. 2nd Aug 

Frome First XI took a step closer to promotion as they completed a remarkable run chase to beat rivals Uphill Castle at Fromefield.

After early morning rain, Frome won the toss and electing to field to guard against the threat of future rain shortening the match. They made a solid early start as Bliss was caught by Smith off Neal for five. From there Belcher and Watson formed a strong partnership, looking solid and picking off the bad ball seemingly offered up in each over by the Frome bowlers.

Despite this the visiting batsmen never really got away from Frome. Neal finished a tight opening spell and the next 20 overs saw Frome rotate bowlers in search of a breakthrough, however it evaded them. At the halfway stage the score was 93-1, and Uphill continued to accumulate steadily. Whilst the run rate was never out of hand, with only one wicket having fallen the platform was set for a strong finish. To Frome’s credit the bowlers and fielders stuck to their task in search of a wicket knowing that every run saved would be crucial in a run chase. With the score at 163-1 with 10 overs remaining – both batsmen having passed 50 – a sizeable score was a real possibility.

Uphill found boundaries at ease. Watson passed an excellent 100 finishing unbeaten on 119, helping to set Frome an imposing 273 to win. Frome made a good start through Paul Sanger and David Dredge, taking the score to 34 in the seventh over before Sanger was bowled by Cox for 11. Bleakley joined David Dredge and together the pair produced one of the defining moments of the season.

At the first drinks interval at 17 overs Frome had amassed 108-1, with David Dredge having passed 50.

After 25 overs the score was 147-1 with Bleakley past 50, and Frome were well ahead of the required rate, and the onslaught continued as the visitors flagged. By the 30th over the 200 was up and Dredge had reached another brilliant hundred with a six to rapturous applause from a home crowd who were now immersed in the run chase, recognising not only the quality of the batting but the importance of it to Frome’s season. After the 31st and 32nd overs each went for 17 runs the game was as good as over. Shortly after the 200 partnership both innings ended. Firstly Dredge was caught for a magnificent 123 before Bleakley also skewed a catch for an excellent 77.

It was left to Smith (15 not out) and Dan Dredge (9 not out) to see Frome home by seven wickets with 12 overs remaining.