Venue: Aigburth Cricket Ground, Liverpool Cricket Club
For the first (and possibly last depending on success) of a cricket feature over the few weeks of the summer of the footballing off season, it was off to watch some club cricket. But where would I be headed? After a Manchopper draw, it was decided by the gods that I was to head off to Liverpool and Aigburth, the home of the oldest pavilion in first class cricket.
After meeting Dan, my usual footballing companion, who also shares a love of the leather and willow, at Urmston, it was off towards Liverpool South Parkway and a switch of trains there. 45 minutes later, we’d disembarked at the Parkway, before heading over towards the Merseyrail platforms and the Southport train. It was here that you can read a small plaque, featuring a ghost story regarding the legend of Screeching Ginny. For those of you who are a bit on the lzy side, or who’ll never find the occasion to be on said platform, here is the story in all its glory:
After that spooky and somewhat tragic interlude, it was back onto the sunbathed railway. A short hop later and it was time to get off at Aigburth. After crossing back over the tracks, the ground itself is only a 10 minute stroll along Aigburth Road, and the ground comes upon you straight in front. After entering through the gates, you are met with two options, wither the pavilion “members” entrance or the car park “non-members” entrance. Towing the line, we used the non-members,,, before Dan had to use the amenities and headed into the historic building. After a few photographic opportunities, I took my seat in the beige pavilion and waited for the men in white coats to arrive. No, not those because I’d lost my sanity (though some may suggest this is the case), but the umpires to take control of the game.
Following the soon after was the Wigan side, who were taking to the field first, followed eventually by the Liverpool opening pair. Soon, we were all set for the first ball of the day, but first , it’s time for the history lesson. No, you’re not escaping that easily….
Aigburth Cricket Ground is home to Liverpool CC, and has been ever since the club’s formation in 1807. The club is the oldest amateur sports club in the Merseyside area.
The ground itself hosted its maiden first class game (a county game, usually) when Lancashire hosted the Cambridge University side. Lancs still use the ground regularly to this day. Of course, they won the County Championship when using Liverpool CC as its primary home ground in 2011, when Old Trafford was being redeveloped and the square turned. This was Lancs’ first Championship win since 1950 and their first outright for 77 years (1934), as they won four out of their six matches at Liverpool. In its time, the ground has played host to 192 first-class matches and 16 List A (mostly County One Day) games. Aigburth has also hosted a football game. On 24th February 1883, England played Ireland in an international Exhibition contest, which England went on to win 7-0.
The pavilion building was erected in 1880, and remains, as stated earlier, the oldest first class one in existence. When the Women’s World Cup was hosted in England during 1973, the ground hosted its one and so far only Women’s ODI, as an International XI entertained the Trinidad and Tobago women’s side.
The West Indies toured England in 1984, and visited Liverpool for a tour match against Lancashire, in front of 7,633. Lancs lost by just 56 runs in a high scoring contest, which was a decent result considering the Windies had the likes of Gordon Greenidge in the side. Greenidge was instrumental in the victory, scoring 186, the second of three one-day hundreds scored at Aigburth. The ground has featured the likes of Wally Hammond, Wasim Akram, Brian Statham, WG Grace….and Sajid Mahmood.
Lancashire Lightning will return to Aigburth this season, as they entertain the Nottinghamshire Outlaws in the Royal London One Day Cup (50 overs).
So, the teams were ready, and for the first few overs, it was steady going. Then, Wigan got on top as they took the top three wickets for just 42 runs. Openers Matt Jackson & Mark Williams were the first and third to go, either side of #3 Tom Oughterson, whose 16 was fluent, all caught behind the wicket. After a lap of the ground, Dan and I had now found ourselves in the middle level of the pavilion, on tables and sipping either cider or beer. Due to the relative cheapness of the ale, crisps and Mars Bars were added to our own personal lunch break, as the play continued in front of us.
Meanwhile, Fayaz Ughradar and Chris Tonge undertook a bit of a recovery, making 21 and 26 respectively, before both became victims of Chris Highton, who later added Ant McCarthy and Callum Doyle to his wickets column.
By now, Liverpool were struggling at 122-7, and looking like they were to lose comfortably. But Sean Hogan and more specifically Owen Jones would have something to say about that. Jones immediately made his counter attacking intentions clear, and Hogan upped the ante as his innings went on, with both playing some delightful shots. Hogan was finally dismissed for 29, caught at cover, and Jones was out, caught at deep square leg looking for a second maximum for a terrific 42.
After the tea break, Liverpool’s last stand of Sam Holliday, who showed some fluency with the bat and Christian Edwards added a further unbeaten 33 to ensure they could declare on 228 from 55 overs and set upa chase for Wigan to go for.
It had begun well for the visitors as they progressed to 66-0, but they horribly fell apart. John Richardson (36) was the first to go, the first of three victims for Christian Edwards. This became 70-3, as Adam Samouelle and Jake Leyland both fell to Hogan and Edwards respectively. After a small recovery, they soon lost two more quick wickets, with Anthony Whittaker (13) and Joe Shorrocks falling, the latter for no score, to leave Wigan 104-5, a run of 38-5.
The score stood on 123, when the sixth wicket went down, that of skipper, the former New Zealand Test International batsman, Aaron Redmond, falling for 23, but Ryan Parry and Chris Highton added 25, when both fell in quick succession to leave the score on 148-8. This quickly became 149-9, when Mark Rowe had his stumps disturbed, to leave the last pair of Matt Shorrocks and George Burrows, who’d bowled impressively earlier in the day, a couple of nervous overs to survive, which they successfully negotiated, to ensure Wigan a shaky draw. Liverpool seemed understandably disappointed to not quite creep over the line after coming so close.
So, we both headed back through the car park, and back along Aigburth Road towards the station, before grabbing the rattler back to South Parkway and after a small wait it was onwards home. For Dan, he achieved the rare straight swap of train to bus, so after a quick farewell, we went our separate ways. A fine day, at a lovely venue, and well worth a return one day. Maybe, quite soon.
My Men of the Match: Liverpool: Owen Jones. Wigan: Chris Highton.