A 1st XI showing 3 changes made the trip to Rawtenstall on Cup Final day (yes that’s right – Cup Final Day; none of this Royal Wedding nonsense. They’re as far away from the throne as a Law-Riding’s head at toilet time). Bunn, A Newton and returning skipper Houldsworth came in for Solo, Aspinall and K Masood.
Obviously Cilla was feeling much better and even more so when on a beautiful summer’s day he called ‘tails’ (it never fails apparently) and elected to bat.
Lancashire League legend Kez Roscoe opened the bowling and having had Hamza dropped at first slip to a tough chance off only his and the third ball of the game, maybe the pitch had been misread by the skipper.
Having lost Matty for another duck early in the second over, Ashen strode to the middle, eager to take advantage of the wonderful batting conditions. And my did he do just that..
A wonderful second wicket partnership of just over 100 saw Hamza reach his maiden Lancashire League 1st XI 50, and when the conditions started to take their toll on him he was dismissed for a career best 57 from 120 balls. Job done from the opener and a well-deserved lie down in the shade followed.
Perhaps more surprising was the offer from Swanney senior to go round for the collection, and a whopping £21.19 was collected.
Bunn joined Silva at the crease, but having missed a straight one was quickly replaced by Swanney at number 5. Paddy batted beautifully, injecting pace and momentum into the innings at a crucial stage, including 20 off the 41st over which led to us amassing just short of 100 runs from the final 10 overs. And our younger players wonder why we keep banging on about keeping wickets in hand for the later overs…………………
The injection of urgency and some trademark shots from Swanney brought up his maiden Lancashire League 50 at almost a run a ball, and his marvellous innings ended when he was out to a straight delivery which kept low in the last over of the innings.
But what about the man at the other end? Well Ash, as is Ash, just kept on batting. Despite hitting many balls straight to his opposite number Peterson, he reached his maiden Lancashire League century and carried his bat for a marvellous 117 not out at almost a run a ball. Chanceless. Imperious. Magnificent. Simply Ashen.
Our innings closed on 254-4 from our 50 overs
After a tea of made-to-order sandwiches (but not the fillet steak requested by Paul Newton) we took the field looking to defend our competitive total.
An inconsistent opening salvo from Maher and Haris Masood allowed the Rawtenstall openers to get off to a flier, but we were buoyed by Haris getting one through the defences of Payne, last year’s professional now playing as amateur. But that only allowed Rawtenstall professional Keegan Peterson to come to the middle, and the ease of his opening boundary through mid-wicket brought a look of concern from the skipper of which Mark Hughes himself would have been proud. A look which turned even worse when a simple caught & bowled chance was shelled only two deliveries later.
As Rawtenstall raced to 100-1 at the first drinks interval at 18 overs, our total all of a sudden looked well short of par.
It was however two long spells from Silva and Newy which brought us back into the game. Two wickets in three balls, the first the crucial run out of the Rawtenstall keeper-batsman by Adam Newton when well when set and just short of a 50 of his own, and the important wicket of Aziz just two balls later, turned the game in our favour.
Tight bowling at both ends and a couple of wickets for Ash meant that at the second drinks interval the score was 165-6. But the Rawtenstall professional was still there and looking in imperious form.
After 39 overs Ashen finished his spell of 15 overs, having picked up another couple of wickets, concluding a marvellous day for him personally with figures of 2-47. But on a wicket offering little to the seamers, to whom would captain Cilla turn?
The often brash demands of our erstwhile opener Matty Oddie, when informed he would be bowling the next over, were suddenly more cautious about his ability to get the job done. The captain and senior players had no doubts, but after Newy had finished his 13 over spell ended with good figures of 2-49, and then the returning Maher’s second over was despatched for 18 by Peterson, it would have been understandable for anyone to have had self-doubt.
After a simple dropped catch on the boundary cost Matt a wicket in his first over, he bowled brilliantly. And as Maher finally brought some control from a seam bowler at the other end, the run rate began to climb and the pressure began to tell.
The – definitely self-entitled – ‘pro-destroyer’ defeated Peterson with a quicker delivery and Armer did the rest. Peterson made a chanceless 88 and looks like he will do a fine job this year for his club.
Oddie chipped in with another couple of wickets, and after a short but annoying last wicket partnership, Maher finished the job by yorking the Rawtenstall number 10 to grab the bonus points.
So a 12 point win. Ash hits some form. Hamza proves the coach and his former club wrong. Paddy’s on the bus, and had a message for his former club too.
And Matty Oddie can bowl. It’s almost like we forgot……………..