CRICKETERS usually rue the rain, not the sun – but Saturday’s humid heatwave produced a sweltering setback for Tenbury Wells’ promotion hopes.

Tenbury lost a vital toss at home to Worcestershire League Division Nine promotion rivals West Malvern seconds and were forced to field first in the tropical temperatures.

While they bowled and fielded well to restrict the visitors to 185 all out, Tenbury paid the price for their exertions as they wilted with the bat, dismissed for just 132 in reply.

Stand-in skipper Tom Pugh said: “It was a scorching day so a lot of it came down to the toss. We lost it so, of course, they batted first.

“They mixed up their order a bit and we just couldn’t take their last wickets, so they made us field for most of their allocated overs.

“We were always up against it because we had been really zapped by the sun and from looking like we would have them all out for 120 we probably gave them a few runs too many.

“I’ve said we need people to step up but I’m putting the blame for Saturday squarely on the weather and having to field first in that heat. Even the opposition said how important the toss had been.”

Defeat was particularly harsh on Nigel Payne, who topped both the batting and bowling figures for Tenbury, his spell of 4-25 helping reduce West Malvern to 97-8 at one stage.

Jamie Farrar (2-29) again bowled economically and there were fine catches from Chris Giles, Pugh and Jay Griffiths.

However, late-order runs from Mark Walker (39) and John Owens (33) helped Malvern to a competitive total and, crucially, kept Tenbury out in the field longer.

Opener Payne hit a fine 67 in reply but, apart from Darren Thompson (29no), the rest of the order crumbled in the heat as Tenbury fell 53 runs short of their target.

Pugh added: “I was impressed with Nigel – to go straight back out, grind out an innings like that and continue to score in the temperatures after fielding and bowling his nine overs was brilliant.”

Tenbury sit fifth at the halfway stage of the season but are just ten points off second spot in a congested battle for the two promotion spaces.

Tenbury seconds, meanwhile, won a low-scoring Division Twelve South West thriller by just six runs at Rushwick thirds as the hosts’ wayward bowling came back to haunt them.

The hosts’ bowlers gave up a whopping 48 extras as Toby Dickinson’s superb 71 led a Tenbury fightback from 44-6 to 159 all out, with support from Ashley Wood (19no).

In reply, disciplined bowling restricted Rushwick to 153-6 with Wood (2-21) and Matty Clent (2-42) topping the bowling figures to help Tenbury to a narrow victory.