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Alun Jenkins has watched a lot of cricket. He considers himself one of the game's great thinkers and, inbetween talk of closing roads around North Parade, stopping the trains running past the ground and creating a flight-free zone in future weeks he made one of his famous declarations at the end of the Bath v Ilminster game today. "That might just turn out to be one of the most crucial wins of the season!" he said. By the time people had got home and looked at the results on play-cricket, many had realised what a wise old sage Jenks might be, given the surprise victory by Taunton St. Andrew.

But lest we get carried away and start celebrating the league title in week 2, lets take a moment to look back at the day's events at North Parade and consider whether Bath's performance alone is worthy of the potential champions tag. Certainly by the half-way point, everything was going according to Robin Lett's plan. Against a depleted Ilminster outfit the home bowlers had just looked too good for the visitors as first Davies, then Green, then (somewhat suprisingly) Jenkins and finally Stayt steadily worked their way through the batting order. The brand new WEPL stumps flew out of the ground (rather too easily in my opinion) on a couple of occasions, Lett took a sharp slip catch and Padgett did what Padgett does by snuffling every opportunity that came his way. Tea was taken early as Ilminster subsided to 122 all out with 10 overs still remaining and many watchers predicted a speedy Bath victory with even more overs to spare.

How right they were - but most certainly not in the manner they anticipated! First Campbell fell to a catch at third man before Lett and Jenkins departed in successive deliveries. Bath were 15-3 this week when Tim Rouse came to the crease (which made 23-3 last week look positively comfortable) for the young Kingswood pupil.....a good grounding in your formative years is essential to later success I always say! Anyway, he and Barrow looked reasonably solid until Barrow turned the ball to square leg and looked up to find himself ajudged LBW before Davies fell a couple of balls later. 37-5 in the 11th over, with Kraucamp having taken all 5 for the visitors and steaming in from the Road End - well. you would wouldn't you!

Mount and Rouse saw off the dangerous opening bowler before the former was struck (roughly) in front with the score on 66, which meant Stayt joined Rouse to edge Bath closer to their target. When he fell with the score at 93 there was a little worry but when Padgett fell two runs later there was real concern around the ground. As it was, the dependable Jonathan Green joined Rouse the Younger in the middle and these two saw Bath home....or so they thought as they were clapped in and already in the showers before they were sent back out to get one more run by the ever watchful scorers (who were greatly aided all day by magnificent sight-lines from their latest home).

Tim Rouse calmly knocked off the missing run and returned once again to the pavilion, this time with a score of 45 not out, rather than his previous 44. When you find yourself in good form it is vital that you cash in (apparently) and  Rouse is doing that, and then some! His magnificent fluency of a week earlier was replaced by dogged resistance and a careful, watchful approach to see Bath home today.

Bath have a very strong and long batting line-up and they needed nearly all of it today but they did not look like champions  - although, to steal a few standard football statements (1) winning is a habit (2) its the sign of a good side to play poorly and still win and (3) it's a marathon not a sprint. However, it was left to 17 year old Tim Rouse to save their bacon against modest  but tenaciousopponents. His innings, plus the generosity of the Ilminster bowlers who contributed a vital 25 in wides saw The Swords over the line for what just might turn out to be one of the most crucial wins of the season. Right, let's go and have a look at the other results.......

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