Report by Steve Hill. Photos by Peter Smith of Smifsports.

West of England Premier League (WEPL)

Islamnabi Ahmadzai’s burst of 4-15 from eight overs helped pave the way for Stroud to get the much-delayed Courage West of England Premier League season off to a fine start with a seven-wicket victory away to Hatherley & Reddings.

The on-going Coronavirus crisis forced WEPL to abandon its scheduled league programme and devise new 2020-only divisions for a seven-week competition after the Government gave the green light earlier this month for the sport to return at recreational level.

And Stroud, placed in Covid Group F, hit the ground running with a fine team effort on a day when wet weather had the last word in many matches.

Hatherley, who won the toss, were restricted to a total of 79-6 from a rain-reduced 24 overs, opener Dan Brabham top scoring on 40 before he fell victim to the excellent Ahmadzai.

Opener Callum Gegg (27) and brother and skipper Louis (20) then took the fight to Hatherley with Chris Job (18 not) wrapping up the spoils

Cheltenham, meanwhile, were seven-wicket home victors over Rockhampton, Kieran Smith (47) and Mike Kelly (41) sharing an unbroken stand of 79.

Visitors Dumbleton dodged the showers to trump Frocester by five wickets, Ed Bragg top scoring on 54 while there was also a fine return of 4-25 from eight for Dan Holland.

Brothers Marc (88) and Dan Lezar (80) put on an unbroken 134 for Thornbury who, in the rain, completed a 121-run DLS home defeat of Gloucester, Tom Bradley ripping through the visitors’ top order with a haul of 5-8 from five.

Gazette Series:

There were two results in Covid Group H. Ed Goolden (3-28) and Jon Tegg (59) shone in Corse & Staunton’s 48-run home triumph over Bourton Vale, and opener Ross Martin top scored on 47 in Painswick’s three-wickets home success over Cheltenham Civil Service.

In Covid Group B, Winterbourne lost away to Clevedon, while Stapleton overcame Golden Hill – formerly known as Bristol YMCA – by six wickets in Covid Group G thanks to captain Olly Sharp’s breezy 64 off only 32 balls (four fours, five sixes).

Gloucestershire County Cricket League (GCCL)

Skipper Jody Lawrence led from the front with an outstanding 145 and a return of 3-20 as Poulton 2nds eased to a 73-run triumph away to St Phillips North on the long awaited opening day of the Greene King IPA Gloucestershire County League season.

Lawrence, who opened after losing the toss, plundered 10 fours and 11 sixes to dominate his side’s challenge of 251-7 and then did his bit with the ball as North came up short.

This was the only game to be completed in the 2020-only C East division on a day when wet weather affected many matches as cricket made its long awaited return.

The County League has redrawn its competitions for a Coronavirus-curtailed seven-week campaign which will see no promotion or relegation before a hoped-for return to regular competition next year.

In C South, meanwhile, Whitminster rallied from an unpromising 1-3 at home to A38 rivals Stone to reach 185-6 off 35 thanks to the efforts of Jack Price (104) and skipper Lewis Cook (53).

The visitors then came up 19 runs short despite captain Pete Lavis’ 45.

Westbury-on-Severn held their nerve for an exciting last over three-run victory away to Redmarley in the A West division.

Alex Gray’s 53 (five fours, three sixes) was the highlight of the visitors’ challenge of 164 after losing the toss as Sam Aston captured 4-23 and James Holland 3-20.

Aston, who then opened Redmarley’s innings, followed up with a patient 53 in an opening stand of 67 with Rob Gummer (34) before Greg Artus (4-30), Dan Hockaday (3-19) and Arron Brown (3-44) got to work.

Uzair Salehbhai (58 not) and Uzair Bhaiyat (45) shone in Gloucester AIW Sports’ five-wicket victory at Cinderford St John, for whom opener Nigel Cartwright contributed 69.

And Aston Ingham completed a five-wicket home win over Tewkesbury, James Benn unbeaten on 63 after Wade Ridsdale had earlier crunched 96 off 76 balls (15 fours, three sixes) for the visitors.

Captain Dan Huxstep’s unbeaten 57 saw Frampton-on-Severn to a six-wicket home success in A South over Oldlands while Cam held on for a five-run home success over Hawkesbury Upton and Rockhampton 2nds defeated Frocester 3rds by five wickets.

No results were possible in A East on a day when rain affected the great majority of matches but three games were completed in B West, including a 41-run win for Woodpeckers away to Newent with opener Tom Stevens (64) and Andy Ruxton (4-25) both shining.

Mahesh Shetty (92) and Iqbal Ahmed (35) shared an unbroken opening stand of 141 for Ullenwood Bharat who powered their way to a ten-wicket thumping of Gloucester 2nds, and Corse & Staunton 2nds edged their Lydney counterparts by 40 runs.

There was just one result in B East, Sheepscombe completing a two-wicket home triumph over Minchinhampton with three balls to spare.

The weather was kinder to teams in C West with all four games reaching a conclusion. Paul Scales (89 not) and Ivor Griffiths (78) helped Churchdown pile up 251-6 away to Hatherley & Reddings 3rds who came up 86 runs short despite Jim Green’s 69.

Kingsholm 2nds were four-wicket victors at Down Hatherley, Parkend edged Aston Ingham 2nds by five wickets and Apperley 2nds romped in by 82 runs at Westbury-on-Severn 2nds.