Consecutive away games on a beautiful sunny weekend did little to impress the grumpy Treasurer. Nonetheless stand-in skipper Maher took a young team, bereft of its 3 senior amateur batsman, to ‘HQ’.
Matt Bunn, Hamza Qayoom and Jason Kayley came into the side for Allan Armer, Patrick Swanney and Adam Newton. Owing to a shortage of wicketkeepers at the club, Aspinall was to don the gloves for the first time in over a decade.
Captain Maher called ‘Heads’, and for the first time in 2018 a GHCC 1st XI captain was a lucky tosser. On a wicket which looked both dry and wet at the same time, he had no hesitation in electing to field, notwithstanding the scorching temperatures.
A variable opening burst from 16 year old Harris Masood removed 3 of the top 4 East Lancs batsman, leaving the hosts at 26-3. Harris’ opening spell, curtailed by ECB regulations, ended with 3 for 30 from his 7 overs. Boyle and professional Read rebuilt the innings before an equally variable spell from Bunn removed Boyle, caught behind by Aspinall.
Wickets fell at regular intervals during a marvellous spell of spin bowling from professional Silva, and when his opposite number Read was removed, caught & bowled with the score on 137-8, hopes were high of restricting the home team to a modest target.
However, just like in 2017, the East Lancs lower order contributed some vital runs, and when Adam Masood picked up the final wicket in the last scheduled over, East Lancs were all out for 173. Silva picking up 5 for 31 from his 14 over spell.
After refreshments rivaling anything we have seen in the league since we joined last year, Matt Oddie and league debutant Hamza Qayoom strode to the middle. After Hamza was clean bowled for just 5, Oddie and Silva batted steadily in their 94 run partnership, grinding down the East Lancs bowlers in the stifling heat. When Silva fell to his opposite number with score on 102, and with us still requiring 72 for victory, there would undoubtedly have been concerns from our travelling support as to whether our young side could stand up, take responsibility and get us over the line for our first win of the season.
Aspinall joined Oddie at the crease at batted beautifully, punishing the bad ball and rotating the strike where possible. After getting stuck for some time on 46, 17 year old Oddie completed his maiden 1st XI 50 before falling for 54 from 127 balls, Joe Bolton picking up a deserved wicket for the hosts.
The returning Bunn joined Aspinall at the crease and injected some energy and urgency into the run chase, which never got out of control. Needing 6 to win off the last over, Bunn (20 not out) hit the winning runs through mid-wicket to secure a memorable 7 wicket victory. Aspinall finishing on 30 not out, with all of Oddie, Aspinall and Bunn all hitting their highest 1st XI scores.
A very mature run chase from our inexperienced batting line securing a 12 point victory, and the dizzy heights of mid-table for a week at least.