2XI back to winning ways as Royton are rumbled
When Less is More
As someone famous once nearly said, "Cricket eh? Bloody Hell!".
We took on Royton at much less than full strength once again. Today the club was fighting on three fronts: 1XI away at Glodwick, 2XI at home to Royton and Tunnicliffe, Jones and Heslop much further away in Bulgaria having it large. Smalley was also on his jollies, not quite as far away, in St Ives, though it probably took him as long to get there, and Dave Ward was also absent. As a consequence we'd lost Ryan McGrath once more to 1XI duties, but we also welcomed back a rather exhausted Chairman Holt, who had been building railways every night for a week, Rick Hall, who hadn't, and a fully fit Bradley Hadfield.
For the first time this year we Skipper Ben Pollard lost the toss and they stuck us in on a pitch with a bit of juice in it after the past week's "gorgeous" weather. Brad assumed Jonah's opening duties and we took guard against Jackson, recently let go by Lancs from their U18 side, and the lanky left-armer Foden. They proved a handful, Jackson bowling as quickly as anyone we've faced this year, probably a touch quicker in fact, and Foden extracting erratic bounce. Brad had been rapped on the gloves a couple of times by the time I succumbed for a duck to my 5th ball from Jackson, driving over a near yorker length, speedy in-swinger. 3-1.
Zac replaced me and tried to dig in. Brad cut a couple of nice boundaries and Zak played a lovely on-drive, and this was supplemented by a flurry of wides as Foden drifted down leg to the right-handers. We'd reached 26, but then the next wicket fell, Hadfield gloving a lifter behind for 13. Zac took one in the ribs shortly after and then drove a bit airily at his next ball and was bowled. 30-3. Could Kyle show what was needed to steady the ship? In short, no, he top-edged skywards of his fifth ball from a shot he should never have played. 30-4 and in the doo doo.
This left Neil and Pemmy at the crease, it was a good time for us to have two such experienced cricketers together. Together they saw off the openers remaining overs, Neil with his classy technique and Pemmy with no little skill and also some well placed mind-games that distracted Royton's youngsters. We'd eaten some overs and got up to 41 by the time the next wicket fell, Neil inside and edging a ball that nipped back. Pemmy and Ehsan took the score on a bit further in remarkably similar innings, both bashing a couple of fours before both falling to top edges of the off-spinner Taylor-Maw for identical scores of 11. In between, Ben Pollard had also come and gone in a poor run-out. We were now deep in it at 72-8. Nathan came and went quickly too, and it was 73-9 which would never be enough in a month of Sundays, and we were in it deeper still.
Thankfully, Rick Hall and Tom Hughes wrung out some vital runs for our last partnership. Tom batted steadily and thumped a couple of fours, Rick batted in his trade mark way, clunking the bad ball whenever it came. Even when Jackson was brought on to try to wrap things up, Rick got after him too and took 12 off his last two overs when he'd only conceded 9 in his first 6. Alas the fun ended soon after though, Tom falling to yet another top-edge for 10. Rick was left 23*, together they'd seen us to 103. Vital runs, a three figure score has a much bigger psychological value than one a few runs less than a 100.
We took tea knowing our goose was probably cooked unless we did something unusual. After a conflab and some consideration, between Skipper and VC, the something unusual we opted for was to open with both Pemberton's rather than pace from both ends.
Nevertheless, a good plan is worth nothing without good implementation. Boy - did we get it! Zak and gary both bowled superbly. Zak's first 4-overs were all excellent maidens, strict line and good zip giving the batsmen nothing. He got no reward, including a dropped catch by his Dad at gully, but he played a massive part in building the pressure which Pemmy Snr exploited at the other end. GP bowled just as well, accurate and attacking both the stumps and the batsmens' pads in equal measure, and he got the reward that will be Zak's on another day. Taylor-Maw was pinned lbw for zip, Boardman skied an awful shot to Tom Hughes for another duck and Foden edged behind to make it a third. Soon after Snape was bowled for 7 and Royton were reduced to 7-4. Game well and truly on. Warwick smacked a couple of fours before Hadfield was also bowled by GP, 18-5 with all 5 wickets to the big man.
Even though Zak was still flying in and bowling with metronomic perfection, due to the rather ridiculous league rule dictating maximum 6-over spells for u16s he had to be removed from the attack, wrapped in cotton-wool and sent to bed with a glass of milk. KFC replaced him and bowled in nothing like the same way. His run up was fine but the custard pies which floated out of his hand took eons to reach the batsmen, and he interspersed those with half-trackers that sat up and asked to be smacked. The Royton batsmen obliged, Warwick smacked one of them straight to Ehsan at point and Bradbury another straight up in the air, which Zak caught very well over his shoulder. Pemmy is still going, Laskey bowled with similar ease to bring him his last victim in outstanding figures of 6-20.
The floatiness from the other end is mercifully brought to an end and Ehsan comes on to bowl properly. He does, and then some, with leg breaks fizzing, bouncing and bamboozling Royton's remaining rabbits. Within 10 of his balls they are all out and he's claimed two wickets without conceding a run. Royton have been unceremoniously dumped out for a measily 41 and we've won. Cricket eh? Bloody hell!
We were surprised, relieved and delighted in equal measure. Beers and laughs were shared in the dressing room and the bar. The chase of Middleton in top spot continues, against all the odds, and we play them week after next!!!
Daily Lesson: Our Chairman is a star, shattered after his work commitments not only did he play, he quietly took on Mike Ward's groundsman duties before, during and after the game. He also returned on Sunday morning after his night-shift to do the same. Thank you Neil, on behalf of everybody.