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Take me to Church

Came the call from my brother at a quarter to nine

We might even win, and I’ll buy you a pie

 

This week’s match reports cover three games against Church CC, and a 3rd XI trip to Middleton. Here’s how we got on.

Saturday 23 April

3rd XI v Middleton CC – Away

Report by Matt Houldsworth

GHCC travelled to Middleton hoping to continue their unbeaten start to the league season.

It was a nice day but extremely windy summed up by the sight screen tipping backwards in the air, balancing on 2 wheels, before needing to be dragged back down to earth by the players upon arrival. Such conditions may have swayed captain Dickie Law to field first after winning the toss.

After the third ball of the day was expertly dispatched to the boundary off the back foot, some of the fielders questioned if this batter was playing somewhat ‘below’ his usual standard of cricket. An early wicket for Niall Holt then another for Amaar reduced Middleton to 53 for 2. However a 3rd wicket partnership of 111 between Shahid and Woodcock put the scoreboard towards a daunting run chase.

This was further helped by a quickfire 27(no) from Baxter. Middleton ended on 255-5. An excellent knock from Shahid scoring 131 and Woodcock 51. Pick of the bowlers were Niall Holt 1-23 off 6 overs and Sam Newton who bowled very well in his 4 over spell conceding just 11 without reward.

On to the run chase with the reliable Shak opening with Malik looking to get the chase off to a fast start. Unfortunately, runs came steadily but wickets quickly fell leaving GHCC on 59-5. Middleton were looking to wrap this up early.

ENTER GEOFF ALLEN celebrating his 68th birthday.

Shak was still at the crease and although victory seemed unlikely Shak was determined to have a go. Geoff rolled back the years on his ‘2nd home ground’, making the batting look easy, dispatching the bad balls to the boundary at will, much to the frustration of the Middleton bowlers.

As the game reached its latter stages Shak was in the 90s and Geoff the 40s. Although defeat was inevitable could both men reach their century and half century respectively? Geoff got to 45 not out and gave Shak as much strike as possible. The game reached the last ball of the innings. Shak was on 96 not out. Shak hit a cracker of a shot straight down the ground to reach his century. BUT WAIT…. a fielder has decided his life depends on stopping that ball reaching the boundary and sprints 30 yards with a full length dive to stop it on the edge leaving Shak stranded on 97 not out.

GHCC finished on 170-5 with a 6th wicket partnership of 111 between Geoff and Shak. Another fantastic knock from Shak taking him onto 265 runs in 3 knocks.

A batting masterclass from both batters especially Geoff who showed that patience is key when batting and supporting Shak. A reliance on Shak to keep scoring big totals needs to be addressed if we are to have a successful season.

A special mention to Middleton for fantastic facilities, hospitality and being a great set of lads. What 3rd XI cricket should be about.

Double header next weekend for the 3s, entertaining Haslingden on Saturday before travelling to Lowerhouse on Monday.

ARROD BALL

4th XI v Church CC – Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park

This week saw Church 3XI visit The Cliffe – only one of two teams to be victors against the dominance last season.

Returning to his rightful throne was Liam Noon, replacing the stand-in skipper and mere hand to Liam, Paul Newton. The team were blessed with Paul’s presence on the side line, with his warm sausage in his pocket (meanly feeding the burnt bits to the dog) and ball in hand, reflecting on his dropped catches from the previous week.

Other changes to the team where Ethan Houldsworth for Joel Houldsworth and the returning Shaabaz Hussain for William Armer, who this week was knocking down pins instead of stumps. I’ll spare you anymore details – into the action …

The toss was won by the home team, electing to field first.

Opening the bowling was Ethan and Siraj ‘Machli’ Ahmed, both bowling well. The first strike came in the forth over, as Fishy skittled the opener. With the score at 14/1 after 8 overs, Ethan was replaced by Kasim ‘Crunchy’ Masood. Crunch took the second wicket in his first over – 14 for 2.

Collectively still bowling well, Kasim struck again in the 17th over, getting the dangerous Rahman out for 11 with a beauty that pitched, straightened and bounced, clipping the bails.

At drinks it was 35/3 and minus a few fielding errors, it was a tremendous 20 overs.

Wickets then began to fall, Ismheel getting the wicket of Barnes, followed by 2 wickets in his first over by Shaabaz – Church 39/6 after 23.

Into the 27th over young Shaabaz struck again, twice – after some good fielding from Ishy – 51-8.

The partnership of Young and Aftab meant the lads had to keep their concentration but it was only a matter of time – am I right!

El Capitano had seen enough, Masood back into the action – innings over in the 38th – all out 94. Crunchy finishing with 4 for 10 off 7.4.

Into the 2nd innings – Alex and Thomas opened the batting.

Young Kenny, not Potter’s Tiger for the Phoenix Knights fans, finishing on an unbeaten 52 and Tommy with an unbeaten 28 did the job. A mature performance with the bat and a much improved fielding display – onto the next.

As you were – Step Dad x

Report by Liam Noon

Sunday 24 April

2nd XI v Church CC – Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park

Report by Jason Kayley

It was an afternoon of controversy at Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park on Sunday, where decisions came under the microscope as the seconds took on their counterparts from Church.

The hosts were rocked by the very late withdrawal of skipper Paul Houldsworth with a mystery “bug.” Tests were inconclusive although Hobgoblinitis couldn’t be ruled out.

So with the vast weight of the skipper’s experience sat in his car, Jack took the reigns and drafted in Ammar “The Gas Man” Malik to fill the considerable void.

Jack won the toss and put the visitors in and it initially looked a good move with veteran seamer Jason Kayley taking a wicket in the first over, producing a beautiful, late swinging delivery to remove the opener.

But some wayward bowling let Church off the hook and they were racing along until GHCC’s greatest ever captain Paul Newton came into the attack and took a wicket with his first ball, Joel Houldsworth snaffling the catch.

Malik pumped up the gas and got in on the wickets to help stem the flow of runs, before “spinner” Marcus Hamer threw some darts into the heart of the Church batting taking a fantastic 4 for 4 from 5.1 overs to restrict the visitors to 132 when a much higher target looked in the offing.

Kayley, Newton and Malik all took two each.

The reply got off to a sticky start with Christian Oddie was given out LBW to Waqas Ahmed when it looked to be heading down the leg side.

Miles Corish was unlucky to play on in his first innings of the season and Shak suffered a rare failure to the same bowler.

Then a unique interpretation of the leg before rules did for both Russ Whalley and the skipper, drawing the ire of the raucous spectators and leaving the hosts in a heap of trouble.

Thomas Newton batted well for his six but it was Kayley (20) and Houldsworth (13), who had an air of particularly uncharacteristic positivity, who gave the score a sheen a respectability.

The pair put on 28 for the ninth wicket but both fell as the hosts were bowled out for 80, with Extras comfortably the top scorer with 34. Waqas Ahmed finished with six wickets for the visitors.

The twos will hope to get back to winning ways next week when they visit Alexandra Meadows to take on East Lancs.

1st XI v Church CC – Away

We made our annual trip to Church on a Sunday, full of the joys of Spring on a sunny but windy day.

Fielding the same team for a consecutive week, we won the toss and elected to bat first.

We soon found ourselves in trouble, Matt Oddie being adjudged LBW in the first over. Wickets feel at regular intervals and partnerships were few and far between. When Allan Armer was adjudged LBW and shortly afterwards Ethan Houldsworth was adjudged caught in surprising circumstances, we were under the cosh and sadly lost our last wicket having failed to use more than 8 of our allotted 50 overs.

All out for 138 was not the idea after winning the toss. Contributions from Thiki of 26, Reece ‘Bruce’ Willets of 18, and then latterly Allan with 25 and young Ishmeel who batted maturely (and included somehow hitting one of two dangerous full pitched deliveries he received from the same bowler onto the clubhouse roof for 6) before being last man out for 23 were the limited highlights of a disappointing first stanza.

After a particularly light tea at the interval we took the field ready to have a blast at the opposition. After all, when fielding its 11 versus 1 or 2, depending on who is a the crease.

After Sanka dismissed skipper Sam Holt early on (who must have been surprised not to get his customary 50+ at home against us), and after an absolute age Church professional Trivedi was given out LBW, we were in the game.

That wicket sparked us into life for some unknown reason, and suddenly the pressure was on. Tight bowling from Sanky and Kaz was backed up by Maher and Junior, and when opener Fergusson departed having faced 92 balls for an excellent 21, keeping his serenity whilst all around him turned to chaos, the score was 77-5 and we sniffed an unlikely victory to go with our first league point of the season.

But having only given up one tough chance, Bhada and Florentine paced their chase beautifully to see Church home without further loss with 12 balls to spare.

Collectively it was one of our best bowling performances in 2-3 years. Sadly on the day it wasn’t backed up by our batting, and it remains the challenge for our incredibly talented but inexperienced 1st XI to put all parts of our game together in the same game.

It is that consistency we will continue to strive for, and on another day our performance may have earned us many more points.

But this time, we had to settle for 1

Report by Stuart Maher

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