Andrew Law-Riding No Comments

Winning the toss for the second week, Skipper Steve Schofield had no hesitation electing to bat on an extremely cold, wet and soggy wicket, apologising to the opposition for the damp wicket, the opposition replied they were happy to get a game.

Indeed the game was played in good spirits by both sides, including officials who pulled together to make a day of it. Phil Aspinall and Joel Houldsworth opened, with Aspinall aggressively lofting the ball into open spaces, Houldsworth more cautiously regularly working the ball on the leg side before Aspinall (11) chipped one to cover.

Runs dried up as both Adam Masood and Ethan Houldsworth struggled to get the ball away. Matthew Oddie came to the wicket, with Great Harwood in trouble, patiently and painfully putting together a long partnership with school boy & paperboy opener Houldsworth, who was increasing looking more comfortable, cautiously playing each ball on its merits, gaining confidence, driving the ball firmly to long on and through the covers, his forward defensive looked like he had been practicing for years.

Oddie (29) took control and took the score slowly and nicely to over 80 before being caught behind off Max Harrison, which opened the flood gates to a plethora of wickets falling, has young spin bowler Amin, gained the assistance of 3 batsmen who obliging helped to their own downfall. Stephen Schofield (2), Harris Masood (0), Rhys Holt (0) and Thomas Newton (0), made spin balling on a wet wicket look miraculous.

Fortunately, during the collapse, Houldsworth acquired enough runs to move within a major milestone, ably supported by Joel Bentham, who generously denying himself runs in the second last over  to allow Houldsworth the chance to reach fifty. But it was not to be, as he ran out of overs closing 47*, steering the side to 115-9, which seemed an unlikely score with the pitch unpredictable to play on.

A hot tea followed, complete with chips, sausages, pizza, bread, eggs, cakes, the works. Lynn excelled herself as usual and all was appreciated.

Clitheroe’s innings began in earnest with skipper Jackson (31) opening with authority and positive stroke play. Rhys Holt’s medium pace beguiled opener Amin to start a fall of wickets, where the middle order contributed only 6 runs, with excellent bowling from Harris Masood (3 wickets), moving the ball extravagantly off the seam, to the disbelief of the Clitheroe team.  A number of dropped catches preceeded a suicidal run out of Mamoud where it took 5 attempts to hit the wickets. An incredible catch by Adam Masood removed dangerous batsmen Wardle off Ethan Houldsworth’s bowling before a big wicket, opener Jackson who was stumped off Kennedy, and walked before the umpire had the chance to raise his finger.

Despite a clatter of wickets, Clitheroe had 15 overs remaining and as batsman Birtwell-Jones made easy work of the odd bad ball, hitting two big sixes, to score 32 not out it looked as though they would get home. Alex Kennedy again bowled with great ability as did Thomas Newton, whose swing bowling shows great promise.  The last three batsmen each scored a duck each, but the target was in easy reach and T Smith hung around for 25 balls as Great Harwood began to doubt whether they would win.

That was until skipper Schofield came on and bowled at pace to remove the final two batsmen and the game was over, Harwood winning by 18 runs. All teams happy and generous applause by the opposition and away fans to welcome the 3rd’s first win.

Cricket is a funny old game, throughout his innings, Houldsworth apologised for not scoring enough runs, but at the end of the day, he remained the glue that kept the team score ticking along when everyone else struggled he showed a maturity to keep things together.  A player can doubt their own ability, can doubt their contribution but without this contribution, the game would have been over long before. Runs on the board allowed Skipper Steve to test all his bowlers and each one came through with flying colours.  Well Done Harwood.

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