Frome 2s maintained their promotion push on Saturday, battling against the punishing heat to put in a polished performance at Long Sutton. An afternoon of hard graft –particularly with the ball – registered a 4th win on the spin, with another maximum 35-point haul keeping the Showmen joint-top at the halfway point of the season.
On the hottest day of the summer an early arrival and understandably ‘low-tempo’ warm-up was followed by a dreaded lost toss, with Frome being invited to field. Despite this set-back Wheeler and Asim yet again hit their disciplines from the off, hitting a good line and length to keep the Long Sutton openers in check. This patience was rewarded when after a slow start Asim induced Lyons to chip to short-cover.
As the temperature rose and the sweat flowed there was no let-up in the pressure applied by the bowlers. An impressive opening spell from Wheeler was followed up by an equally miserly effort from Collis. With the scoreboard stalling andArthur Harman maintaining high standards from the other end, a big breakthrough duly arrived when the young off-spinner ripped one through Andrews defences to leave Long Sutton 38-2.
A steady rebuilding job for Long Sutton then followed with Vigar and Hawksworth digging in. With the Frome seamers whites beginning to look thoroughly saturated, spin was introduced from both ends with Gullock and Smart following Harman’s lead. Both bowled intelligently to carefully set fields, and when Smart clipped Hawksworth’s leg-stump just as a partnership was developing the game took a decisive turn in Frome’s favour.
The Long Sutton middle order tried and failed to acceleratethe scoring rate with Smart (3-27) and Gullock (2-13)regularly chipping away with key wickets. When Harman (3-27) returned to bag a spectacular one-handed caught and bowled, the innings had subsided to 111-9. A last-wicket stand of 36 threatened to frustrate the Showmen, with fielders beginning to wilt as the heat finally kicked in –however an excellent catch at deep mid-wicket from Lawrence-Berkley ended proceedings at 147 all out. A superb effort from Frome in very difficult conditions.
After a much needed relax in the shade and cool-down during the interval, the clouds duly rolled in to provide a more pleasant climate for the second half. Opening bowler Sparrow found movement through the air and off the surface in a testing spell, however Leonard was at hisbelligerent best to launch an array of drives and cuts to get Frome off to a flyer.
As a streaky Potter dug in at the other end, Leonard (52)dominated an opening stand of 78 to ram home Frome’s advantage and reach a deserved third half-century of the season. When Sparrow finally induced a deserved edge behind, Long Sutton fought hard to claim a few more scalps– Pinchen and Dredge falling to leave the Showmen 108-3. However some clean strikes from a dominant Smart (16*)powered Frome towards the finishing line, with Potter (49*)finally finding a bit of touch to seal a 7-wicket win.
At the midway point of the season this was arguably Frome’s most complete performance – hard, disciplined graft in the heat restricting the opposition to a below-par score, followed by a confident chase with few alarms. The Showmen deservedly reach the turn joint-top with an exciting July providing lots of big games as the promotion race continues.
Next up, Frome are on the road again and will need to be at their best for a big game at Ilminster.