Saturday XI vs Box
Bears 204-3 45 overs
Box 177-9 45 overs

A 27 run victory over basement club Box on Saturday was not enough to save the Bears from relegation, with rivals Nationwide House defeating Winsley to guarantee their place at the top table of the Wiltshire League next season.

Inwardly at least, the Bears were resigned to the loss of their Division 1 status before a ball was bowled at The Glasshouse, their fate effectively being sealed the previous week due to Nationwide’s victory over Swindon. But nonetheless, Gunning’s men approached Saturday’s encounter in good spirits and determined to end a difficult season on a high note.

Batting first, the Bears amassed a competitive 204-3 from their 45 overs on a painfully slow pitch, a factor exacerbated by a lack of pace on the ball after the opening burst from the visitors’ seamers.

Mark Gunning capped a personally rewarding season with the bat with another half century (62), whilst fellow veteran Chris Bence plundered 84 as he too passed 500 league runs. After those two had departed it was left to the fluent Mike Smyth (31*) and Alex Woodward to ensure that maximum batting bonus points were secured.

If the league table was based purely on the quality of teas then surely the Bears would be celebrating back-to-back league titles: Family Morris (Carolyn, Zoe, Georgia and financier Dave) once again delivering a sumptuous spread.

After the interval, Box opener Dave Crawford set about chasing down the Bears’ total with real gusto, but after George Ellis’ remarkable one-handed catch did for him the visitors’ innings lost much of its impetus: Shreyas (9-3-14-3) proving virtually impossible to get away. Some mid-order runs just about kept relegated Box in the game as the Bear Flat bowlers attempted in vain to secure additional bonus points, but three wickets for Bence, two for Jay Morris and one for John Heywood ensured that a comfortable victory was ultimately completed with Box finishing on 177-9.

So it will be the second tier for the Bears next season when they will attempt to emulate their Division 2 title-winning season of 2015.

And as always, we go again… COYB