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And we’re back

A new season is upon us, as we closed our friendly preparation on Saturday with a defeat to our friends from Earby, whilst our 3rd and 4th XI started their Lancashire League seasons proper with two excellent victories.

Saturday 9th April

Friendly vs Earby CC – Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park

Saturday saw us welcome Earby to the Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park for what would be our final opportunity to get some in game practice in ahead of the season.

Following a week in which wind and rain had threatened to scupper any plans for friendly games, we were delighted to see the sun come out on Saturday morning as if to say here you go, have a cricket season.

The ground looks in great shape, thanks to the fine work of John Seedle and Mick Deasey over the winter, and with the toss done and ourselves set to bat first, we were away.

GHCC found the conditions difficult, and battled our way to 121-7 from our 45 overs. Ismheel Shakeel top scoring with a battling 46*. The pick of our opponents bowling was Luke Hipgrave, who took 2-9 from his 9 overs, ,and Chris Walton (2-17)

In response, we started well, wickets for Kasir Masood and Paul Newton reducing Earby to 41-4, but a partnership of 75 between Craig Walton (25*) and Luke Hipgrave (47) took the game away from us and despite a late wicket for young spinner Kasim Masood, our opponents got home for the loss of 5 wickets.

A good workout and excellent preparation ahead of Easter Sunday’s season opener at home against division 2 title favourites Crompton.

Thanks and well played to Earby, who we wish well for their upcoming Ribblesdale League season.

Sunday 10th April

3rd XI vs Crompton CC – Away – JW Lees Lancashire League 3rd XI Division 2

So our 3rd XI travelled to Crompton as the 2022 season got underway. Bolstered by the returning legends Geoff Allen and Lee Dobson, the average age of the team increased almost as much as the talent on show. Captain Richard Law-Riding, recovering from recent surgery, had decided the previous evening that he wasn’t quite ready to take the reigns and so Matt Oddie stepped in to captain the side for the day.

Having elected to bat, Hamza Qayoom strode out with Muhammad Shakeel to get the season underway. ‘Big Shak’ had proudly watched his son Ismheel shine the previous day and was clearly in the mood to reassert himself as the best player in his family.

Having survived an early scare (a huge appeal for caught behind not given by the Crompton umpire), Shak clobbered the opposition attack everywhere.

Hamza at the other end went about his day, accumulating runs whenever Shak wanted a rest. Together they put on 136 for the first wicket before Hamza fell for a fine 53.

Zeain Ali came in at three, but was bowled by Dhanyal Javed for 4, meaning Chris Oddie joined Shak as he neared 100.

Chris found run scoring light work, hitting three sixes on his way to 49*, and Lee Dobson (27*) latterly joined him to close out the innings. But the day belonged to Muhammad Shakeel, who hit 123 from just 112 deliveries, with 17  fours and a six. GHCC closed our 40 overs on a remarkable 260-3.

Crompton needed a flying start to have any chance of chasing down our total, but Jason Kayley was in no mood to allow this. Opening the bowling with young Aniq Hussain, his opening six overs returned 2 wickets for just 4 runs, one solitary boundary in a field of tiny little dots.

Both openers were replaced and Ammar Malik and Amaar Ali (1-18) set about their middle order. Ammar Malik recorded figures of 3-27 from his 7 overs, and by the time Zeain Ali took 2 wickets, Crompton were 82-8.

A battling performance however from Benjamin Clegg (35*) and Theo Wright (2*) frustrated Great Harwood in our attempts to close out the game, and despite Muhammad Shakeel taking the late wicket of Clegg, Crompton held out at 119-9.

This was Shak’s day, a magnificent 100 took the game away from our opponents and they were unable to get close to chasing the target. Ten points to start the season, we’ll put them in the bag and move on.

Rishton at home next week.

Scorecard

4th XI vs Walsden CC – Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park – JW Lees Lancashire League 3rd XI Division 1

Our all conquering 4th XI also began the season on Sunday, welcoming Walsden CC’s 3rd XI to Evolve Document Solutions Cliffe Park.

For those unaware (who have been on Mars, in a cave, with their eyes shut and their fingers in their ears), our 4th XI was introduced last year, as a means for our best junior players to gain experience in senior cricket. Captained by Liam Noon, they exceeded all expectations, winning the Lancashire League 3rd XI Division Championship.

At the end of the previous season the final placings, determined via post season play-offs, were used to create three divisions for this year. As champions our 4th XI would participate in Division 1, against the 8 other strongest teams.

So Sunday’s game represented the commencement of their title defence. Remarkably only one of those who played regularly last year is no longer a junior cricketer, So the team remained largely similar, but availability gave the opportunity to 13 year old William Armer, who following impressive friendly performances in previous weeks, came in for his senior cricket debut

Bowling first, we opened with Ismheel Shakeel and Siraj Ahmed. Walsden opener Leon Bailey liked the look of both, and got off to a flyer, smashing four 4s and a six in racing to 27 from just 17 deliveries.

In the 3rd over, Shakeel struck twice. First he bowled Ollie Davidson, then next ball had Logan Greenwood trapped LBW.

Not to be outdone, Siraj followed up in the 6th over with two of his own. First he took the big wicket of Bailey, who hit one big shot too many and was smartly caught by a running Paul Newton. Then the very next ball, he bowled Jack Halstead.

Six overs into the new season, and we’d seen 5 fours, a six and two missed hat-trick opportunities.

From this point, the Walsden innings was propped up by Mubasher Khan. He batted magnificently, ably supported by captain Chris Lord (17) in a fifth wicket partnership of 68.

Though Lord fell to Kasim Masood, Khan continued, eventually being the last man out, caught on the edge for 79. Walsden all out for 138.

After tea, we set about chasing down the target. Tom Newton and Alex Kennedy did a great job of nullifying an impressive Walsden bowling attack, and they built a steady partnership, which reached 34 before Tom misjudged a pull shot and was bowled.

Alex followed soon after, as did William Armer, bowled by spinner Shakir Hussain, leaving GHCC 38-3 before David Wilson and Ismheel Shakeel set about rebuilding the innings.

David was trapped LBW for 9 with the score at 48, but Ismheel, ably supported by Kasim Masood (15) then put on 47 for the 5th wicket

Ismheel was closing in on 50, but the required rate was creeping up, and when Kasim was bowled by Lockwood we still required 44 to win, with just over 6 overs remaining.

Siraj Ahmed (11) joined him, and played a fine supporting role. When Ismheel reached 50 in the 38th over, we still needed 21 from just 17 deliveries.

You can see Ismheel go to 50 here

From this point, you could imagine the pressure may get to young players. And yet Ismheel and Siraj remained calm, finding gaps and picking the right balls to attack.

Even when Walsden returned to their outstanding opening bowler Mubasher Khan for the 39th over there was no sense of danger. Singles were picked and both batsmen displayed a confidence that they could get the job done.

Needing 5 to win off the last over, Ismheel twice targeted long on, who was on the edge meaning with the pace the ball was hit the batsmen could get back for two. And with the scores level, the understanding between the two to enable Ismheel to drop his hands on one to push it softly out to cover and scamper through for a comfortable single displayed a level of game management knowledge far beyond their years.

GHCC win – with one ball to spare. Ismheel following up his 46* on Saturday with a match-winning 63*.

Scorecard

With the priority of this team being to develop our top Hawks Academy players, the only expectations of them relate to the effort they give when they step onto the field.  We know that at times they will come up short and that’s all part of their development, however  Sunday wasn’t to be one such day.

We know we have a talented group of young players, and a quality pool of younger players ready to step in when an opportunity arises. They could finish anywhere in this league, but this was a hugely positive start.

Next week they travel to Clitheroe on Easter Saturday. This will present a real challenge given Clitheroe had the 2nd and 3rd strongest sides in the division in 2021.

On to the next one.

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