Result: Didsbury CC 232-8 (50 overs) DREW WITH Oulton Park CC 170-9 (50 overs) (Cheshire County Cricket League)
Venue: Wilmslow Road (Saturday 27th June 2015, 1pm)
Att: 25 (hc)
For what was likely to be my final weekend of cricket during my brief summer sojourn from the football season, I was off to another somewhat local club to me, Didsbury CC. Didsbury is a leafy part of South Machester, heading towards the Cheadle and Stockport area. But, in the eastern part of the town sits the cricket club on the main Wilmslow Road which runs through from Manchester. The ground is probably one of the most accessible by all form of transport, as it is served regularly by buses and has the Metrolink and rail station at East Didsbury next door.
For me, the bus was the easy option today and I gave myself 45 minutes to make the 25-30 minute journey. Well, that’s what it should be, but after an horrendous journey involving all sorts of hold ups, I eventually arrived 3 overs into the game, after a 50 minute ride. Upon arrival, it was Didsbury who were batting first and stood on 8-0, and their target quickly became apparent when a player stated he was hoping “for around 180”. He was to be proved pretty much spot on.
So, with the game in full flow and with the sunshine out in force, even causing a heat haze across the pitch(!), there’s no better time than now to review the history of Didsbury Cricket Club.
Didsbury CC was founded back in 1858, originally playing on ground on Beaver Road. After this was sold for housing development in the late 19th century, the club moved to its present location on Wilmslow Road.
This ground was also on lease from the owners, who also decided to sell it for development. With little to no other option for places to play, the club decided to purchase the ground themselves for the princely sum of £1700. The old wooden pavilion opened at the turn of the century and lasted for 81 years before being destroyed in an arson attack (brainless), but a much more ambitious pavilion was planned and eventually opened in December the next year.
The ground has seen players of the likes of Cyril Washbrook, Brian Statham and Andrew Flintoff grace its field which currently also plays host to the Manchester Waconians Lacrosse and Didsbury Greys Hockey sides. I went past the ground in March-time and there was a hockey game in full flow, turning the wet ground on the outfield into a quagmire, which there is still scars of right now, three months later!
The club have won numerous first team honours, namely being champions of the Manchester and District Cricket Association on seven separate occasions, (1933, ’48, ’54, ’55, ’57, ’83 & ’98) as well a cup win during their time here, in the shape of the 1975 HC Smith Cup.
From around the millennium, the club began to compete in the Cheshire County League system, winning the Premier Division, Cheshire Cup and League Cup treble in 2001 and have since added to this by winning the Division 1 in 2008, after being relegated in the meantime. Since their 2008 promotion, the team where relegated again and currently compete back in Division 1, where they are having a good season, standing in 4th place prior to today’s contest, against third-placed Oulton Park, from the area, of course, famed for the racetrack.
So back to the game and Didsbury had reached 31 before losing their first wicket, when Phil Critchley drove straight to cover for 10 and was joined in the pavilion by keeper-batsman Tim Hughes, who departed in the same fashion, after a fluent 15. He crouched at the crease in a “Thinker” pose for a fair while, before dragging himself off. 61-2.
Skipper Nick Anderson remained there though, becoming more aggressive as he remained at the crease, and brought up his half-century and advanced the score past 100, before holing out to long off who took a simple catch to dismiss him for 72. By now, the clock had ticked past 3pm, and it had occurred to me that being so close to the airport left me in with a decent shot of seeing the AVRO Vulcan on what may prove to be its final flight and yes, it did appear soon after, flying straight over the ground. Real chills.
After such a sight, it was back on to on-field matters. After being on the back-foot for long periods, Oulton Park began a fightback, taking four quick wickets to reduce Didsbury from 175-3 to 197-7. After dismissing Matt Grace for a patient 37 to break a partnership of 71 for the fourth wicket, they sent back #6, Graham Rishton, lbw and #7, Terry Balmer, missing a big swipe, both without score, but Matt Marfani advanced to fifty, before being caught at deep mid-wicket for 54.
After some late order resistance from Jonny Fawcett (10) and lusty blows by Raza Mian, who was run out off the last ball, Didsbury ended on 232-8, and looked pretty pleased with their efforts. For now, though, it was to the pavilion for a Kopparberg, which was purchased for a rather pricey £4.30, but it is Didsbury I guess! After watching a bit of both the T20 and Warrington RL game, the sides headed back out into the sunshine for the second innings.
Didsbury came out and immediately had success, with Grace dismissing Ben Tomlinson in his first over, without scoring, and then forced Tomlinson’s fellow opener, Dan Leech, to nick behind for three to leave Oulton Park at 4-2. Meanwhile, my regular accomplice, Dan had just arrived after work as OP last their third wicket with just nine on the board as Patrick Roberts was dismissed for one, edging to slip.
At 9-3 and in all sorts of trouble, Park needed a partnership and some stability. They got it somewhat as Iroshan de Silva and Tom Hyslop advanced the score on to 49, before the latter was bowled by Mian for 21. #6 fell with the score on 60, caught at slip for one, with the fielder being congratulated with the shout “Why’re you so good at slip?!” With wickets six, seven and eight going down with only half the innings gone and the #9 bat also falling, to an lbw decision he was far from happy with, there was 25 overs still to be bowled and it looked like the fat lady was warbling already.
But, it looked as though de Silva wasn’t giving up without a fight, and he was stoically battling away, reaching his 50 and bringing up a 50 partnership in tandem with #10 Guy Emmett after what appeared to be needless bowling changes that released some of the pressure. Take nothing away from these two though, it was a superb display, which was only broken when de Silva lost concentration and hit one straight to the deep square leg fielder to fall for 82. 142-9, with about eleven overs left.
However, Emmett looked determined to stay in their alongside his block-a-thon partner. The #11, Andrew Hards, looked an immovable object and despite a couple of desperate lbw and caught appeals, they kept on surviving. The last over, bowled by Anderson, was safely negotiated by Emmett who finished up on 42* to secure his side a draw and shut the trap of the fat lady firmly. Hards ended on a hard-fought, unbeaten 0.
So, a real Alamo defensive effort from Oulton Park saw them take eight points and only lose four to their hosts, who still jumped above Oulton Park into third, but the visitors will be happy to know they are a lot closer than they might have been. Didsbury will be scratching their heads and wondering just how they failed to take two wickets in 25 overs, after taking the first eight in the same timeframe.
For me, though, another good day at a seemingly great club,. I had visited once before, prior to this game and for sure I’ll be returning in the future. But seemingly, for now at least, the club cricket is over for me for another year, but a big thanks to all those who’ve entertained over the past month. Cheers and see some of you again next season.
My Didsbury CC Man of the Match: Nick Anderson.
My Oulton Park CC Man of the Match: Guy Emmett.