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Sunday took our 1st XI to Rawtenstall still in search of our first victory 

I love going to Rawtenstall; admittedly not quite as much as Hamza, who has two 50s and two tons in 4 innings there so far (not in today’s team), but the setting, a tiered viewing area facing the field framed by a busy main road and perhaps the best looking converted old factory in the world, is distinctly different to any other ground I’ve ever been to. Throw in a sandwich/pie shed and the fact we’re always quite competitive when we play there, it always makes for a great spectacle.

Team News

Two changes to today’s team, as we welcome back Allan Armer from holiday, and Matt Bunn after a few weeks of going wherever Stelios told him to.

Arriving at the ground, it looked a little wet, but the covers were off revealing a wicket greener than a Seasick Shrek. Of course this meant we were batting. 

1st Innings

Out strode captain Oddie, Bunn opening with him today. Deciding to head over to join the team for the first innings, it rather immediately became apparent this is no place for a pram. 

We got there several overs later, delighted to see we hadn’t lost a wicket. Indeed a solid if unspectactular start saw us reach 22-0 after 10 overs. A  brief rain delay saw us lose two overs, but on returning to the field Oddie started to up the rate, hitting 4 boundaries before falling to the spinner Abid for 28. Bunn fell soon after, caught behind with the score 46-2. This brought Armer and professional Thikshila de Silva together, and almost immediately it began to rain again.

Rain Delay

Three more overs were lost before we saw play resume, and with the sky looking dark, Allan in particular looked in no mood to hang around, getting off the mark with a 6 into the players area, almost wiping out my child, before following up with another pulled into the terrace.

Local weatherman Paul Newton asserted there would be one more patch of rain, lasting for approximately 11 minutes then it would be dry for the rest of the day, and he was right, one more brief shower arrived right on cue, which saw a further over lost, making the game 44 overs per side.

Make it Rain

But on returning to the field it continued to rain, but this rain was not water, it rained cricket balls! Allan and Sanka smashed the ball to all parts. They put on 115 for the third wicket, Allan hitting 56 in 48 balls with 6 fours and 3 sixes before being bowled by the league legend Keith Roscoe.

Jack joined Sanka, who had by this point broken his bat, borrowed Briggsy’s and almost immediately gone into beast mode. Almost every ball was being hit harder than Anthony Joshua’s face the previous evening, even his blocks would have been making fielders wince. Mercifully for Rawtenstall, he was caught on the edge with 10 overs still to play. He scored 82 from just 54 balls, smashing 10 fours and 5 massive sixes in the process.

Jack followed soon after, to a remarkable reactionary caught and bowled by Roscoe, who today was marking the 40th anniversary of his Lancashire League debut, a fantastic achievement, well played.

Briggsy and Chris Oddie carried us forward before Chris was stumped for 11 with the score one short of 200. Paul Clifford came in and gave Roscoe a fourth wicket, pulling cleanly but straight down the throat of the Rawtenstall professional, much to his hilarious disgust (“that’s not even a fielding position that, why’s he even stood there!”)

By this stage we had gone from 184-3 to 202-7, and a very promising performance was in danger of fizzling out. Enter Stuart Maher.

Stuart would remind everyone that questions his batting ability that he’s had more first team 50s than many that would consider themselves  batsmen. Today was certainly his day; he hit 38 of just 17 balls including 5 fours and 2 sixes. This, along with two late boundaries from Briggs, helped us to reach 251-7, by far our biggest total of the year so far.

Innings Break

The 6 lost overs meant DLS came into effect, the revised target meaning Rawtenstall would have to chase 257 from their 44 overs.

2nd Innings

Killelea and former pro Payne opened for Rawtenstall, and got them off to a healthy start. They passed 50 within 10 overs and with both playing expressively, it was soon apparent it was game on.

The introduction of Newton a the changing room end paid instant dividends, he took the wickets of both openers, one caught behind and the other a fine catch form Sanka running in form long off.

Faheem replaced Sanka and had Abid caught behind, and when Aziz was caught at cow by Bunn to give Newton his 3rd wicket, the score had gone from 69-0 to 106-4, prompting Paul Houldsworth to tweet game over, though he may have been referring to the early finish in our 2s game, as several of our players were arriving at Rawtenstall by this point having been rolled for 52 and still almost won.

Rawtenstall Rebuild

Rawtenstall’s pro Jouvan van Wyngaardt was batting at 5 today however, and he was joined by former Feniscowles player Jake Errey. Together they set about our bowling attack like a fat kid to a Pound Bakery, Van Wyngaardt in particular hitting several sixes into the terrace.

Ouchie!

One such clean hit was arrow straight, and appeared to hit the standing umpire clean in the face. I thought he was dead, he collapsed in a heap and didn’t move for several seconds, that felt like a couple of hours. Thankfully he got up, and indicated his shoulder had taken the bulk of the impact, before continuing as if nothing had happened. Having lost teeth in similar circumstances, I know how lucky he was not to be seriously injured, and if there is any lasting injury as a result of this I speak for all at GHCC in wishing him a speedy recovery.

Rawtenstall On Top

Van Wyngaardt reached 50 just before I had to leave. I’d promised my 6 year old I’d be home to watch the Britain’s Got Talent final with her and I’m not stupid enough to upset a six year old, even if there is a great conclusion to a cricket match in the offing.

As I left, we brought back Sanka, and in the time it took to get the pram off the ground his first over back had been hit for three fours, all by Errey. Advantage Rawtenstall.

Turning Point

I set off home thinking they were favourites to win, but just as I settled down to watch a man with a magic police dog, I got a magic message; ‘Pro Out – game on’

The simplicity of this message, from the brother/club secretary was beautiful, but gave nothing of the circumstances around this dismissal. I later gathered that the ball before was called no-ball, as we had too many fielders outside the circle. The professional was infuriated that this was not then called a free-hit, and despite the umpires clarifying that free hits were only awarded for front-foot no-balls, he appeared to decide he was having one anyway, running at the next delivery attempting to hit it to Bacup, but only succeeding in nicking it to Armer, who claimed his 3rd catch of the innings.

The score had passed 200, and Errey continued to make life difficult for our bowlers, edging Rawtenstall closer to victory joined now by his brother.

Maher and Sanka were keeping us in this with some fine bowling. Charlie Errey was bowled by Maher and then Davis caught off his bowling soon after by Danny Briggs.

Stuart to Close it Out

It all came down to the last over, Maher to bowl, Errey on strike, Rawtenstall needing 15 to win.

First ball – 2 to fine leg – 13 required off 5

Second ball – 2 to long off – 11 required off 4

Third ball – run out (1 run) – 10 required off 3

Fourth ball – run out (1 run) – 9 required off 2

Fifth ball – dot – 9 required off 2

Sixth ball – dot – GHCC WIN!!

GHCC WIN!!

GHCC win! It’s been a long time coming, but we notch our first victory of the season, and we’re up and running for 2019. A fantastic game to watch, with the right result at the end.

Fair effort from Rawtenstall, who got within a couple of hits of chasing down what would have been a remarkable victory.

And for the record, Britain’s Got Talent was a massive letdown. Diversity should have won, as even though they weren’t competing they were far and away the best thing about the entire series.

On to the Next One

Next week sees T20 at GHCC Friday, the rearranged Worsley Cup game away at Clitheroe on Saturday, then a little trip down Lee Lane on Sunday. A big weekend, but we go into it with confidence. On to the next one.

ALR

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