Our all conquering 4th XI also began the season on Sunday, welcoming Walsden CC’s 3rd XI to Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park.
For those unaware (who have been on Mars, in a cave, with their eyes shut and their fingers in their ears), our 4th XI was introduced last year, as a means for our best junior players to gain experience in senior cricket. Captained by Liam Noon, they exceeded all expectations, winning the Lancashire League 3rd XI Division Championship.
At the end of the previous season the final placings, determined via post season play-offs, were used to create three divisions for this year. As champions our 4th XI would participate in Division 1, against the 8 other strongest teams.
So Sunday’s game represented the commencement of their title defence. Remarkably only one of those who played regularly last year is no longer a junior cricketer, So the team remained largely similar, but availability gave the opportunity to 13 year old William Armer, who following impressive friendly performances in previous weeks, came in for his senior cricket debut
Bowling first, we opened with Ismheel Shakeel and Siraj Ahmed. Walsden opener Leon Bailey liked the look of both, and got off to a flyer, smashing four 4s and a six in racing to 27 from just 17 deliveries.
In the 3rd over, Shakeel struck twice. First he bowled Ollie Davidson, then next ball had Logan Greenwood trapped LBW.
Not to be outdone, Siraj followed up in the 6th over with two of his own. First he took the big wicket of Bailey, who hit one big shot too many and was smartly caught by a running Paul Newton. Then the very next ball, he bowled Jack Halstead.
Six overs into the new season, and we’d seen 5 fours, a six and two missed hat-trick opportunities.
From this point, the Walsden innings was propped up by Mubasher Khan. He batted magnificently, ably supported by captain Chris Lord (17) in a fifth wicket partnership of 68.
Though Lord fell to Kasim Masood, Khan continued, eventually being the last man out, caught on the edge for 79. Walsden all out for 138.
After tea, we set about chasing down the target. Tom Newton and Alex Kennedy did a great job of nullifying an impressive Walsden bowling attack, and they built a steady partnership, which reached 34 before Tom misjudged a pull shot and was bowled.
Alex followed soon after, as did William Armer, bowled by spinner Shakir Hussain, leaving GHCC 38-3 before David Wilson and Ismheel Shakeel set about rebuilding the innings.
David was trapped LBW for 9 with the score at 48, but Ismheel, ably supported by Kasim Masood (15) then put on 47 for the 5th wicket
Ismheel was closing in on 50, but the required rate was creeping up, and when Kasim was bowled by Lockwood we still required 44 to win, with just over 6 overs remaining.
Siraj Ahmed (11) joined him, and played a fine supporting role. When Ismheel reached 50 in the 38th over, we still needed 21 from just 17 deliveries.
You can see Ismheel go to 50 here