Despite a 5-wicket haul for teenager George Kidd, Broadstairs fell just short in their encounter with promotion rivals Leeds and Broomfield at Park Avenue.
The hosts won the toss and elected to bat first on a warm day and with a pitch and outfield that would offer the batsmen good value for their shots. This was, however, the first week where the Dukes cricket ball would be used and the opening partnership of Alex Hogben and Nathan Fox had to contend with the additional swing the change in ball would bring. Hogben (1) and Fox (20) succumbed in successive overs and by the 14th over, Broadstairs were struggling at 48-3 following the dismissal of Andrew Bailey (7).
Jayojit Basu and Matt Hardy looked to re-set the innings but shortly before the half-way point, Hardy (11) holed-out and Basu (35) was brilliantly caught behind a few overs later. With the score now on 95-5 and with plenty of overs remaining, it was down to the middle-order to mount a rescue attempt. George Kidd (31) made an important contribution before he was unfortunate to be bowled when the ball defected off his bat and pad onto the stumps. Elliot Fox (30*) was left to bat with the tail and looked set to push the score up to 200-plus if Broadstairs had been successful in using-up all the available overs. Unfortunately, this opportunity was squandered and the hosts finished on a below-par 175 with 2.1 overs to spare.
Broadstairs knew they would have to put in a bowling and fielding performance that matched the skill shown by Leeds and Broomfield to be in with a chance of turning the match around.
Unfortunately, a number of factors conspired to thwart this hope. The first of these became immediately apparent within the opening few overs of the second innings – the Broadstairs bowling partnership of Bradley Ellison and George Kidd were unable to achieve the same degree of movement with the ball that had been witnessed in the first innings. This meant they would need to adapt their bowling approach if they were to make the necessary in-roads to force a victory.
Kidd was able to cause problems for the opening batsmen with a consistent line and length that brought him three wickets in his opening 4 overs. With Leeds and Broomfield reeling at 25-3, the hosts had the opportunity to put the new batsmen under severe pressure. However, they allowed the momentum to gradually swing back in favour of the batting side and despite a wicket with his first ball for Elliot Fox, the now-settled Max Aitken was able to pounce on new bowlers and orchestrate a winning run chase for the visitors.
A wicket for Chris Kidd around the half-way mark offered some hope but with the score at 101-5, Leeds and Broomfield were in the driving seat. As the match drifted to what looked like an inevitable conclusion, George Kidd (5-29) returned to add a further two wickets to complete an impressive 5-wicket haul and offer a glimmer of hope for the hosts in the final stages of the match.
However, fortune would not shine on them in the closing stages; a catching opportunity was missed and a run-out appeal that might have changed the course of the match had to be declined because the umpire was unsighted and the visitors eased to victory with 3 wickets and 4.1 overs remaining.
The defeat returns Broadstairs to joint-3rd place in Division 2 but with just 20 points separating the teams in the first 6 positions, there is everything to play for over the remainder of the season.
This week, Broadstairs travel to bottom-of-the-table Tenterden. With the remaining top five teams playing one other, this will be a key opportunity for Broadstairs to re-establish their push for promotion and their fate remains firmly in their own hands.