SHIPSTON-on-Stour returned to form with a blistering performance to win at relegation-threatened Alcester and Ragley.

With regular captain Tom Cox still away, Marcus Ireland was given another opportunity to lead the first XI in the Marston's Pedigree Cotswold Hills Cricket League Premier Division.

Rain was expected later on and Shipston were put into bat.

Returning opener Matt Corby (48) and Julian Morris (21) put together a speedy 70 partnership before both were dismissed quickly to bring Alcester back into the game with 12 overs gone.

But Jack Murphy and Jamie Shurmer continued where the duo left off, putting on 112 before the former was smartly caught down the leg side by the wicketkeeper for 60.

With the score on 188-3 and 14 overs left, Shipston’s stand-in skipper upped the pace with a quick 24 before Neil Wilson went on the offensive with an equally aggressive 34.

Stephen Cross added 14 before he was bowled by Alcester captain Oliver Swinburn (3-61) in the final over.

Shurmer shepherded well to end his best innings for the club to date on 47 not out.

Shipston got 297-7 in their 45 overs.

With a break of over an hour for rain, the hosts were set a reduced target of 192 from 29 overs. Hopes of reaching the total ended quickly when captain Ireland tore through the top order to reduce them to 48-6 from 12 overs.

Corby (1-21) and Dave Pyne (2-24) chipped in to support Ireland who continued his onslaught to end with 6-33, capped off with a sublime caught and bowled to remove Ben Lee (11).

Youngster Max Morris ended the tie with a direct hit from 70 yards to run out George Guy when attempting an ambitious second.

Alcester were bowled out for 82 in 19.1 overs in the clash at Ragley Hall.

Shipston take on Exhall and Wixford at home on Saturday in the battle for fourth spot on the final day of the campaign.