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Following last week’s introductory taster, we went into last weekend with league games for all four senior teams.

Courtesy of some guest reports, here’s how we got on.

Saturday 16 April

3rd XI v Rishton CC – Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park

Report by Matt Houldsworth

The 3rd X1 welcomed near neighbours Rishton 3rd X1 for the second time in as many weeks looking to avenge defeat in the Graham Porter Trophy on a lovely, warm day at the Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park. Rishton won the toss and elected to field.

This proved to be a costly mistake as the Harwood openers put on 101 for the first wicket; Shak (45) and Hamza (56). Highlights included 2 huge sixes from Hamza with one clearing the clubhouse roof. The next 2 wickets fell quickly as Rishton started to get back into the game. However a patient knock of 50 from Chris Oddie enabled GHCC to accelerate at the end of the innings finishing on 185-7 off 40 overs.

The run chase did not get off to a good start. Some great fielding from Sam Newton resulted in a run out with Rishton on 13. Wickets then fell at regular intervals leaving Rishton struggling on 56-5. Malik in particular  bowling some fantastic slower balls to bamboozle the batsmen (3-23). A spirited knock from Rishton’s Sanderson (51not out) briefly raised hopes of an unlikely run chase until some lightening fielding from young Dave Holt resulted in another run out all but ending any Rishton hopes of victory. Frustratingly for GHCC they could not get the last 2 wickets for the bonus points as Rishton closed on 135-8 off 40 overs.

A great start to the season continues with a trip to Middleton on Saturday.

ARROD BALL

4th XI v Clitheroe CC 4 – Away

Report by Paul Newton

Returning to the ground where the 4ths clinched the 3rd XI title last September, we were without the club’s 2nd most successful captain, Liam Noon, who was incapacitated due to undergoing micro-surgery earlier in the week.  Stepping in to his tiny boots was the club’s most successful captain, Paul Newton, looking to maintain his 100% win record.

After winning the toss and electing to bowl first, Ismheel Shakeel and Siraj Ahmed opened the bowling.  Ishy bowled well, only conceding 5 runs from his 5 overs. Siraj was bowling for wickets at the other end, and after 3 dropped catches he realised he had to bowl at the wickets and cleaned bowled the opener in the 8th over with the score on 27/1.  One of the dropped catch culprits was Thomas Newton who was soon after hit on the knee by a pull shot from the batter he gave a life to and had to leave the field for the rest of the innings.  Joel Houldsworth and Will Armer replaced the opening bowlers and after a couple more dropped catches, Clitheroe progressed the score onto 65/1 after 19 overs.

Looking for wickets, Marcus Hamer was brought into the attack, replacing Will.  After a warm up that can only be described as trying to impersonate the cat in a Chinese chippy, Marcus took a wicket in his second over with one that managed to stick in wicket keeper Lewis Elliott’s gloves.  Marcus had a caught and bowled in his 3rd over to leave Clitheroe on 75/3 after 24 overs.

Kasim Masood replaced Joel after his 8 over spell and had an LBW in his 2nd over and bowled another in his 3rd over and the score had moved on to 105/5 after 31 overs.  With 9 overs left to attempt to take the last 5 wickets to secure the bowling points, the captain brought himself on to bowl, replacing Marcus.  The guru was straight into the action with a 2nd ball wicket and also picked up the wickets of 2 Lancashire players in his 2nd over.  Kasim picked up another wicket before the skipper took the final wicket in the 37 over to finish with figures of 4/3 off 3.5 overs.  The Clitheroe innings finished on 112 all out.

Regular opener Thomas was still nursing his knee, so Lewis Elliott was promoted to open the innings with Alex Kennedy.  Clitheroe’s opening bowler, perhaps surprised that the ball now bounces over ankle height at his home ground, attempted to bounce Alex out, but he was more than up for the battle and put him away for three 4s in the first over.  Lewis was out caught in the 3rd over and was replaced by Dave Wilson.  Dave lasted until the 9th over when he was also caught with the score on 31/2.  Joel was batting well and scoring at more than a run a ball (24 off 22) when Alex decided to claim his first run out victim of the season.  Joel obviously took this well and was heard encouraging Alex to continue his fine innings on his lap around the ground.

Last week’s batting hero Ismheel replaced Joel, but was out in the next over after hitting a short ball straight to square leg.  The score was 71/4 in the 18th over and Siraj came out next to bat.  Both players made light work of the run chase and rotated the strike and knocked of a few boundaries, with Siraj hitting the only 6 of the day from a clean straight drive. With only 2 left to win and 3 required for his 50, Alex turned down a couple of easy runs waiting for a boundary ball to be delivered.  This came on the last ball of the 26th over with Alex hitting a 4 down to mid-wicket to bring up his 50 and win the game and in doing so, maintained the captain’s 100% winning record (2 wins from 2 games, and counting).

Sunday 17 April

2nd XI v Middleton CC – Away

Report by Paul Houldsworth

Our 2nd team lost the toss against Middleton calling tails going against Russell’s advice.

Middleton decided to bowl first so Harwood opened with Big Shak and Ziggy,  but Ziggy was out early clean bowled closely followed by Coddie chipping one up to cover.

In came Buddha and he soon lost Big Shak caught at slip. In came Jack and we were going along ok until Buddha dragged one on.

This brought club legend Paul Houldsworth in to bat, who proceeded with Jack to put on over 180 runs for the 6th wicket until old fart Houldsworth ran out of steam and was caught behind for 81

Jack went on complete his hundred and Harwood finished on 252

…some inconsistent bowling by Harwood got Middleton off to a decent start until the stunted one cleaned their opener up and their other opener out caught by unbelievable dolly by the skipper.

Middleton continued to keep up with the run rate but lost wickets at regular intervals mainly to club legend Paul ‘guru’ Newton who finished with 4 fer.

Marcus and Ziggy kept it tight and picked up wickets and it was left to Joel ‘moaner’ Houldsworth to wrap it up and give Harwood 12 points

1st XI v Crompton CC – Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park

I love cricket season. Even when you’re no longer playing, the anticipation you get ahead of a new season takes some beating, and even the prospect of facing newly-relegated, heavily-strengthened and in many eyes title favourites Crompton couldn’t shake the positivity.

We welcomed club professional Thikshila de Silva back ahead of the new season, and having won the toss and decided to bowl first, he almost had an immediate impact. The very first ball of the new season, he was convinced he had one of Crompton’s big new signings, Hooson, trapped LBW. Not given.

Unfazed, he followed up later in the over bowling the other Crompton opener Parker.

When Kasir Masood followed up with the wicket of Harry Dean, the score was 14-2 and we were on top.

However this brought together professional Mohammed Jamal with former Walsden opener Hooson, and they put on 146, building the foundation of the Crompton innings.

Jamal fell just short of 50, caught by de Silva off the bowling of young Ismheel Shakeel, but Hooson passed 50 before being bowled by Kasir Masood for 75.

Crompton Captain Dennis Louis and another of their new signings Hassan Fazal added late runs, and Crompton closed on 230-5.

Our response got off to a reasonable start, Alex Kennedy and Matt Oddie combining for 26 runs before Matt fell, bowled by another new Crompton signing, former Friarmere overseas player Jaime King.

Kasir Masood fell soon after, with the score on 29, but Alex continued to accumulate, and joined by de Silva they took the score past 50.

Both then fell to King in quick succession, and Ish became his fourth victim soon after, the score moving from 52-2 to 60-5 and the odds firmly in Crompton’s favour.

Reece Willets and Allan Armer counter-punched however, adding 52 for the 6th wicket, and with King having bowled his allocation of 15 straight overs, the question was would Crompton have anything left.

Muhammad Zuhaib bowled Reece, before Allan was run out, top scoring with 30.

Hooson’s spin then saw to the remaining three batsmen. GHCC all out for 151.

A strange game to watch really. Great Harwood in the end well beaten, but not until a very late stage really looking out of it. Despite recording a point-free start to the season, there were positives to take from this performance, perhaps most pressingly that we faced possibly the strongest side we will come up against this year and they looked… beatable. Had a couple of decisions or close calls gone our way, it could have been a very different game.

Another tough task faces us next week as we travel to last year’s 4th placed Church CC.

On to the next one.

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