A rare Saturday game for our 1st XI this week. Worsley Cup games taking place on the Sunday meant we were straight back at it following a fine victory over East Lancs last week.
Middleton would be the opponents this week. The reversal of the opening day fixture as we move into the second half of the season. We would be hoping for a reversal in outcome too, as we fell short on opening day.
On arrival at the Cliffe, there was already a group of Middleton support in attendance, having arrived on a minibus at the same time as the players.
Into our team came Kaz Masood and Ben Rogers, who would keep wicket on his first XI debut. They took the places of Stuart Maher and Allan Armer.
Batting first, Zeain would be Matt’s opening partner today.
We got off to, in what is becoming a welcome familiar pattern, a solid if unspectacular start, both batsmen adjusting to the conditions and picking up ones and twos wherever possible. Zeain fell to a run out whilst I was changing the little man’s nappy, so I can’t comment other than to say I probably wasn’t the only one feeling a little poo.
This brought professional de Silva to the crease and he and Oddie continued to work the ball into gaps on what had become apparent was a difficult surface. Oddie fell with the score on 33, very soon after followed by de Silva, LBW to a ball that appeared to hit him waist high. He’s not the tallest, but his incredulity at the decision suggested it may have been a little high.
Ethan Houldsworth and Kaz Masood set to rebuild the innings, and took us to 50 before Kaz fell, caught of the Middleton spinner. Jack replaced him, and went soon after, picking his spot to despatch a loopy full toss – and melting it straight at the midwicket fielder, who clung on.
Ethan was next to go, for a very measured and important 44 ball 14, and this brought together the father and son combination of Briggsy and Cockney
They helped us to 74, before Briggs fell, another loose shot trying to pick up the rate helping the spinner Highton to his third wicket. Newton went for a 19 ball duck, before Clifford was adjudged caught behind in another contentious decision. 87-9
An assured rearguard resistance from the increasingly impressive Faheem Basharat and debutant Rogers saw us pass 100, and close without being bowled out, 102-9
The tea break saw an opportunity for me to nip home and pick up my partner and six year old daughter, who were both to attend their first game since the birth of the little man. As I picked them up, I told them we hadn’t scored many runs, but it looked like there might be enough in the wicket for us to get at them, and if we could do so early, we might have a chance. They both looked at me blankly, smiled, and asked if I’d had fun. I assured them I had.
We’d missed a little of the second innings by the time we returned to the ground. Middleton were 36-1, the wicket to fall a stumping by Ben off the bowling of Paul Newton. Nevertheless, it looked as though our opponents were making short work of the target.
As we made it to the balcony…. Bosh! Wicket, stumps flying everywhere. Sanka had cleaned up number three Tierney, 36-2. In came another Tierney whilst the professional Williams was going about his business quietly at the other end.
Helmet strike – the ball beating the batsman, wicketkeeper and hitting the helmet stored behind him. Five penalty runs, not great given the low total, but probably only cost us one more than had it mot been there.
Anyway, the score had moved on to 48, this would be a great time to pick up a wicket. Newton in, bowls, and Williams smashes it straight to de Silva at cover. 48-3.
Bosh! Wicket, stumps flying everywhere. Sanka had cleaned up number four Tierney, 48-4, game on!!
Dempster and Shahid dug in, and rebuilded for Middleton, taking the score to 62 before the former hit Newton upwards and Jack made no mistake.
Bosh! Wicket, stumps flying everywhere. Sanka had cleaned up number six Rutter, 64-6.
Shahid continued unabated, assisted by Reece Jones, and as de Silva and Newton completed their over allocations, it looked as though they’d done enough to see our opponents home.
Kaz Masood replaced Newton and struck immediately. Shahid picked out Briggs who juggled for an age before holding on. When Masood bowled Royle two balls later, we appeared in the ascendancy, 10 runs required, two wickets left.
5 wides didn’t help at this stage, then… Masood in, flick off the legs, and a full length dive from Rogers down the legside that, from the reaction of all of our players, he could only have been inches away from taking.
What could have been a magnificent catch wasn’t, it was 4 runs, levelling the scores.
Faheem into the attack. Wicket LBW!! Even at this late stage there was still fight. Middleton 9 down, and with the last man Highton facing every GHCC player was ready, waiting for a chance.
Left alone – Dot
Swing and a miss – Dot
Solid forward defence – Dot
Swing and a miss – Dot
We lost on a wide. A wide that every player in a suitable position to view, including an extensive cordon and reportedly the two batsmen, were convinced was not a wide.
The game ended therefore in somewhat bizarre circumstances, but well done to Middleton on their win. Very well deserved requiring them to dig very deep. Our team can take pride in a battling performance, one that almost saw us overcome a team that is pushing Colne at the top of the table. We take 5 points from the game, 5 more than we picked up on the opening day.
Just as positive: My partner enjoyed the game and my 6 year old, who has shown no interest when I’ve brought her before, left asking if she could not only come again, but whether she could play. I’ll take her to junior training next week provided she hasn’t moved on to something else like unicorns or crisps by then.
One final note to mention the Middleton support, who were friendly, approachable and a credit to their club all afternoon. We’ll see you again soon.
Bacup away next week, who beat us by 30 runs at the Cliffe earlier this year. Me and the little man will be up there to report on what will be our first trip to Lanehead. I’m told it’s colder than Baxenden. Better wrap up.
On to the next one