Captain Matt Stiddard led from the front as Bexley returned to winning ways in the Kent Premier League with a dominant performance against Tunbridge Wells.

On a beautiful sunny afternoon at Manor Way, it came as no surprise when the hosts chose to bat first. However, they did not get off to the best of starts when Varun Anand, promoted from the second eleven after a fine innings seven days earlier, was dismissed by Sahil Shah without scoring. Shaun Evans then joined Aiden Griggs and they moved the score on to 51 for 1 by the end of the first ten overs power play.

Their partnership was worth 57 before Griggs was caught behind by Sam Smith off Michael Waller for 17. Stiddard then joined Evans, and Tunbridge Wells’ deployment of spin at both ends slowed up the run rate. As a result Bexley had to take quick singles when possible, and at the end of one, Evans appeared to pull up with cramp and had to retire hurt on 47.

Ben Aldred then joined Stiddard and they batted sensibly to take the score to 152 for 2 with nine overs remaining. Aldred, back in his more familiar mid-order slot, then cut loose and took fifteen off a Matt Barker over before perishing off the next ball he faced after reaching an excellent 50. Australian professional, Jack Sinfield kept the score ticking over before Stiddard decided to go after the bowling for the last five overs.

Two Chris Williams overs went for 27 before Sam Huggett had Sinfield caught in the deep for 25. Shah returned to bowl the final over, and Stiddard hit him for two big sixes before holing out to be caught by Waller. Stiddard’s outstanding knock of 93 came from 103 deliveries and included six sixes (one of which was an incredible strike off a delivery that bounced three times), and two fours.

After a wide and another wicket, Freddie Foster came in for the last ball of the innings, and struck it for 6. Bexley closed on 257 for 6 with 105 runs coming from the last nine overs. Shah finished with 3 for 44, Waller 2 for 25, and Huggett 1 for 22.

Although the visitors were given a tough challenge, with the Williams brothers back after a one week absence, they were still in the game. Chris Williams looked to target Harry Dowling but the Bexley opening bowler had the last laugh. When on 24, the danger man attempted a big shot off him that went high in the air, but with no distance, and Foster held on to the steepler.

At the other end, Jamie Batten was again miserly and got his rewards when bowling both Shah and Alex Williams, the latter looking in disbelief having missed an expansive hoick.

Sam Smith then danced down the wicket to Sinfield, missed it, and Aldred completed a smart stumping before Fraser McWhinnie took full advantage of his call up from the second eleven, sending back both Will Stickler and Waller during an excellent six over spell.

That left the reply in tatters at 78 for 6, and the visitors never recovered. Foster dismissed Mark McLean, Barker and Freddie Freeman and Sinfield closed the innings on 122 with a caught and bowled when Huggett hit it straight back to him. Foster took 3 for 14, Batten 2 for 15, McWhinnie 2 for 19, Sinfield 2 for 29 and Dowling 1 for 40.

Victory for Bexley moved them up to sixth in the table above Tunbridge Wells who dropped down to eighth.