Result: Stretford CC 242 (49.5 overs) BEAT Westleigh CC 188-7 (50 overs) by 54 runs (Greater Manchester Cricket League Division 2)
Venue: Lesley Road (Saturday 4th June 2016, 1pm)
Att: 30 (approx.)
As my foray back into the cricketing world continued into a second week, I thought it fitting that I should, therefore, visit the second closest ground to myself. As such, it was off to Lesley Road and Stretford Cricket Club for their contest in the Greater Manchester Cricket League Division 2 vs Westleigh Cricket Club. Westleigh being another one of those “place-merge” named clubs, being located in West Leigh.
So, after a short 20 minute walk, I was at the entrance to the small roadway that runs alongside the adjoining allotment and provides access to the ground. Arriving at the gates to be greeted by a “Welcome to Stretford Cricket Club” sign, just in case you were in any doubt”, I took a seat in front of the pavilion/social club. The seats here, or so Dan tells me, were sourced from Old Trafford and were in use there before the new seats were fitted a few years ago now.
Anyway, having arrived at about quarter to the hour, I watched the Westleigh players going through their final warm-ups before the umpires emerged from the dressing rooms and were soon joined by the Stretford batsmen. Though, one of the pair would soon be heading back inside. But, for now, here’s a bit about Stretford CC….
Stretford CC have played in a few different competitions in their history. Starting in 1977, as that’s the earliest I can find, they played in the Merseyside Cricket Competition’s 1st Division. By 1986, they were competing in the Lancashire & Cheshire League where they remained for a few seasons. By 1991, they were in the Manchester Association where they remained until 2004, when I presume the Manchester & District League came into being. They then switched into the Lancashire & County League from 2011 until this season when they have become founder members of the Greater Manchester Cricket League. (NB: This may be a bit incorrect but, you know….)
The innings got underway with the nippy Westleigh opening bowler Jonny Entwistle really getting it through. And he certainly made an impression in the first over when, after being cut for four the previous ball, he had opener Scott Webb nicking off. His replacement at the crease, David Roberts, only faced one ball, playing a loose drive and ending his innings the same way as his predecessor. Entwistle was delighted, as his celebration showed.
So, after three balls of the innings, Stretford found themselves on 5-2. It soon got worse as Danie Van Schoor was well run out from a deep mid-on position, attempting a two that always looked on, as I said to Dan, who’d joined me at the match after the early two strikes, that there was a “definite two there”. Unfortunately, we were both mistaken and it was 16-3.
A bit of a partnership was needed and opener Chris Sharp alongside ‘keeper Matt Armstrong saw Stretford on to 68-4, by the time the latter was dismissed by Scott Ralph, cutting tamely to cover. But with batting seemingly getting a little easier as the innings went on, be that because of the conditions or the batsmen themselves, Stretford’s total began to steadily rise. Sharp, now joined by Jason Stringer, advanced the scoreboard through three figures. Stringer’s aggressive innings was ended by the spin of Andy Lloyd, or “Cheeseburger” as he’s affectionately known according to the shouts on field, for a 42-ball 37 and Stretford stood on a shaky 123-5.
Sharp went past a well-earned 50, but soon fell to give Lloyd his second wicket and with the score on 137-6, it seemed as though Stretford were in danger of being dismissed for under 200. But, the lower order had other ideas, with Ocean O’Malley (what a name that is) and Brad Holmes adding a further 28 together, before a horrible mix-up in the running led to O’Malley (20)’s wicket falling.
Holmes went with the score on 187, chipping to mid-on off Entwistle, but Westleigh were made to wait and toil away by numbers 9 & 10 Ahmad Muhammad and Alex Grant, who shared a half-century partnership in 8 overs, before Muhammad was finally out to become Entwistle’s fourth victim in the penultimate over. The “other” Entwistle, Rob, took the final wicket, that of Tom Coulson (1) off the second to last ball of the innings to mean Stretford finished up on a competitive looking 242 all out. Grant was left unbeaten on a run-a-ball 28.
As is tradition now on these pages, the interval meant a visit to the bar, where a pint of Carlsberg Export was purchased for £2.60 (I think), before the request to put the Derby on was granted. After a bit of trouble locating how to actually get Channel 4 on the TV, they finally got their wish, but I think disappointment reigned after the result of the race. It definitely sounded that way. Anyway, racing out of the way, it was back out to the sunshine and the wicket.
Westleigh’s innings started in a more sedate fashion than the home side, especially in the way that Stretford introduced a trial by spin for the vast, vast majority of the innings. Ahmad Muhammad was the destroyer in chief for the hosts, with the Lancashire shirt-clad spinner taking four of the wickets to fall. His first came in the form of Nick Sykes (8), who looked to take the attack to the bowler, but only succeeded in finding long-on, who took a fine one-handed catch falling backwards. 12-1.
The key thing in the innings was that the one-paced attack from Stretford was keeping the run-rate down to a pace that Westleigh were falling behind the rate required. The visitors were not helped by the added blows of Rob Entwistle, caught behind after a top-edge for a 42-ball eleven, and the other opener, Lloyd, stumped for 21, to reduce the “Lions” to 46-3 in the 19th over.
Westleigh’s star batsman, the Australian Nathan Bracken circa mid-2000’s hair-a-like, Toby Leeds never looked in much trouble throughout his knock and, alongside #5 Reece Woodcock, added a further 36 until the latter was dismissed off Muhammad for a 14-ball 21, including three sixes. Muhammad now had all four wickets to fall and Westleigh were looking increasingly more hamstrung by the earlier slow rate.
Then fifth wicket, that of Ogden, broke the monotony of the wickets column, with Van Schoor taking his scalp for eight and once Ralph (7) became his second victim 6 overs later, Westleigh found themselves 110-6, still requiring a further 132 to beat Stretford, but with just 12 and a half overs in which to get them. A tall order.
To be honest, it never looked on and it seemed as though Leeds and Jonny Entwistle knew the game was up too. Entwistle (12)was the final wicket to go, the second stumping for Armstrong and the one and only wicket in the match for Holmes. Leeds and Sean Makinson gave some late entertainment, the former hitting three fours & a six in quick succession to end unbeaten on 80 & Makinson not out on a run-a-ball 14, but it wasn’t enough to deny Stretford a comfortable “win” & seven points to Westleigh’s one.
So, the second game of a likely 5-match stint came to a close and with warm sunshine blessing us (#blessed) for the vast majority of the day, it finally seems as though summer has arrived. Of course, the next weekend could be a completely different story. Ah, the British summer….
My Men of the Match:
Stretford: Ahmad Muhammad
Westlleigh: Toby Leeds