On the back of last week’s win at Rawtenstall, we went into today’s local derby game with a renewed sense of confidence, one not remotely diminished by the poor weather, which had put paid to the previous two days’ scheduled fixtures.
Today was brighter, one of those grey days with the remnants of puddles from previous wetness and a little drizzle in the air but not enough to consider it at any point raining. Today we would have a game. And what a game.
Arriving at Rishton, I found we were batting, and following last weeks solid start, we would see the Oddie/Bunn combination once again at the top of the order.
Rishton’s chairman would umpire today at square leg, as one of the standing umpires was not present.
We got off to a fine start, taking 17 off the Rishton captain’s first three overs, before he took himself off, turning to the spin of Mall to pair their professional Amjad.
From this point, progress was slow. Oddie fell with the score on 39, bowled by Mall, bringing professional de Silva to the crease. He and Bunn battled well under difficult conditions, moving the score to 69 before Bunn was trapped LBW by the particularly impressive Mall.
Allan Armer came in as Amjad was replaced with the leg spin of Eddleston. On the back of his explosive 56 last week, hopes were high of further entertainment this week. Alas it was not to be; Eddleston dropped one short and, having sensed an opportunity to cash in, Armer hit it hard, but straight to the man at cover.
Kaz Masood (3) and Jack Hussain (3) both stuck around for a while, supporting Sanka who was quietly going about his business at the other end, and Danny Briggs (6), facing his old team also provided able support, without being able to get the ball away freely.
Sanka Picks up the Pace
The wicket of Briggs seemed to trip a switch in Sanka, who started to hit boundaries for fun. He passed 50 and in no time was approaching what would have been a well deserved century.
He took Eddleston for three concurrent sixes at the start of an over, before attempting to give the fourth ball the same treatment, and being caught on the edge, at the top of long on’s reach, from a shot that seemed to come off the toe of the bat. A remarkable 91 from 80 balls, with the last 51 of those coming in just 22 balls.
Following Sanka’s dismissal, Paul Clifford continued to take the game to Rishton, hitting a six and two fours in a run a ball 23, before Maher and Newton contributed another 24, including a big 6 off the pro for the latter, helping us to reach 211-9.
A competitive score, but one Rishton would have gone into the tea break feeling they could chase.
We opened the bowling with the combination of de Silva and Maher. A trip to the bar to catch the end of the football meant I missed the first wicket, Taylor caught by Briggs off Maher leaving Rishton 20-1, but bringing the dangerous Mansoor Amjad to the crease.
He and Patel put on 82 for the second wicket, grinding out runs as our spinners, Briggs and the in-form Newton made run scoring difficult without ever looking like taking a wicket. With overs in hand, the game was getting away from us. We needed a wicket, we certainly needed Amjad out.
Oddie threw the ball to Faheem, and very first ball he got the breakthrough. Surprising Amjad with a little extra pace than he was perhaps expecting and trapping him LBW. When he followed this up with the subsequent wickets of Patel (44) and Sanderson (7), and Leathert fell at the other end caught by Bunn off the bowling of Maher, Rishton were 146-5 and looking some way off the target.
Their captain Boddie was still there, and we’ve seen before how capable a batsman he can be, but he needed somebody to stick with him. Afsak Patel more than provided this service, not only supporting, but taking 20 off one over to relieve the pressure of a building requires run rate and leave our opponents needing 4 an over with 7 to go.
Patel was out, caught behind off the returning de Silva, and for the second straight week, we took the game to the last over.
Rishton needed four to win, Maher to bowl, Boddie on strike.
First ball – dot – through to the keeper – 4 off 5
Second ball – 2 to long off – 2 required off 4
Field all brought in to prevent the single, forcing the batsman to hit over the top to score
Third ball – SIX – slightly short and clobbered over the legside towards the scoreboard. Rishton win, and Boddie reached 50 in the process.
Not the result we were after, but a great game to watch, as all of the derbies between ourselves and Rishton have been since our move to the Lancashire League.
We move on to next week, still rooted to the foot of the table but with many positives to take. We’ve been much more competitive in recent weeks and whilst at times this season we’ve been outplayed, this result was nothing of the sort. A game of fine margins that we were right in to the very last and had a few things fallen our way, we could have easily been walking away with a second straight victory.
Next week is a busy one, seeing us play T20 away at Church on Friday, before we try for a third time to play our Worsley Cup game at Clitheroe on Saturday, then our 1st and 2nd XIs face Nelson on Sunday.
Here’s to a dry weekend, and one with a victory or four to report on.