Sunday 30th June saw us welcome East Lancs back to the Cliffe for the second time in three days, and having comprehensively beaten them in what was a dead rubber of a T20 game on Friday, hopes were high of a further victory, to get us back on track after last week’s annual wedgying at Haslingden.
This was the third and final day of our Beer Festival, which by all accounts had been a huge success. I’d been up for a couple of hours on the Saturday afternoon to catch some of our 3rd XI game, sampled a beer and listened to the afternoon singer Louis Devere who had been great, setting up on the balcony and singing as the game continued
I was impressed with the way it had all come together. Credit to the secretary for organising and all those involved in making it work. This will hopefully be the first of many such events and with the help of your feedback, we’ll refine and develop these into real community events.
Back to today; I arrived with the little man, who is becoming quite a regular now, about half an hour in. We were batting and had lost a couple of early wickets, Matt and Chris Oddie both out. This had brought Allan Armer and professional Thikshila de Silva together, who had commenced rebuilding. As we reached the clubhouse the score was 45-2 and the scoreboard was starting to look a bit brighter.
Bowling from one end for East Lancs was Phillip Aspinall, who likely had the shortest journey to the ground of all players. He had left us over the winter, and has been doing very well for East Lancs this year. He had picked up the early wicket of Chris, caught behind, but Armer and de Silva never looked troubled, steadily building a total as he and Bolton toiled their way through 10 overs each.
It was the change of bowling that saw the breakthrough, East Lancs professional Angelo Jayasinghe dropping one short, and Allan seeming to reach for it a bit, not getting all of it and picking out Aspinall at deep midwicket (cow).
Ethan Houldsworth (1) and Daniel Briggs (7) stuck around ably for a time, batting in support of de Silva who had passed 50 and was batting a little more freely. Nazakat Hussain cane in at 6 and fell LBW to Bolton (3-60) for just two runs and this triggered a mini collapse as Clifford (4), Basharat (0) and Maher (6) all fell cheaply. We had gone from 136-5 to 156-9 with Sanka 96* and in desperate need of someone to stick with him.
Enter Paul Newton. He saw out the over meaning Sanka would get a chance to reach three figures for the first time for GHCC.
A two off the third ball of the next over moved him to 98, and the field was moved in to encourage him to hit over the top. Sanka didn’t need any invitation to do this and went at the very next ball, only succeeding to sky the ball straight up towards the waiting mid on fielder…. Then this happened.
He deserved a life, having batted with such assurance, and following another two glorious Newton defensive prods, each met by huge cheers from the watching crowd, he pushed a single and strode through to 100.
From this point, he sought to have some fun. Ramp shots and reverse sweeps began to accompany the familiar cover drives and back foot punches, always measured with a single off the 4th or 5th ball of the over followed by another elaborate forward defence, and massive crowd cheer, from Newton.
By the time he holed out to long off to give Aspinall his second wicket, Sanka had reached a magnificent 141, with 18 fours and a six. The last wicket partnership was 52 and Newton had contributed perhaps the best 0* of all time.
We closed 208 all out.
Such positivity at a remarkable innings somewhat masked the fact this was still a gettable score, and when East Lancs got off to a decent start, it was clear we would need to be at our best to come out on top. De Silva trapped Paul Turner LBW and Oddie’s decision to turn to the spin of Newton early proved successful as Aspinall (0) fell to a sharp legside catch by Armer, before professional Jayasinghe (4) was cleaned up by one that simply didn’t bounce.
Joe Bolton and Harry Caton dug in, and slowly began to recover the innings, but when Bolton (18) was also bowled by Newton, East lancs were 74-5 and struggling. Oddie brought himself on to bowl and proved as effective as Newton, his 10.3 overs yielding just 22 runs.
De Silva picked up the wicket of Caton, caught behind, and quickly followed this up by bowling Adam Bolton and Adeel Mohammed, both for ducks. The score was 86-8 and the game looked like being wrapped up early. Matt Oddie got his first wicket, Mark Bolton caught by Faheem Basharat, but John Turner was batting well and fought his way to an impressive 43 with 6 fours and a six, before finding Nazakat Hussain at long off. East Lancs all out for 132.
12 points! A third victory in 5 games and, with Milnrow having lost at Bacup, we’re off the foot of the table as we reach the halfway stage.
Man of the match has to go to de Silva who not only hit one of the most entertaining innings I’ve seen in years, but followed this up with bowling figures of 4-13 from 13 overs with 6 maidens. Top effort.
A great weekend for the club, a successful festival, a T20 victory, and another League win seeing us slowly beginning to recover after what was a terrible start to the season.
Next week we welcome Middleton to the Cliffe, note that the game is being played on Saturday owing to cup commitments for some clubs on Sunday.
Here’s to having another victory to report on.
On to the next one