Result: Stockport CC 185-8 (50 overs) LOST TO Barrow CC (Che) 186-6 (41.1 overs) by 4 WICKETS (Cheshire County Cricket League Division 2)
Venue: Cale Green Oval (Saturday 24th June 2017, 1pm)
Att: 15 (approx.)
Rain was once again threatening as I set off towards Stockport for this, my final club cricket trip of the season and what is likely to be my final blog on this section of this site. As such, I was hoping to sign-off on a high with a good contest and with this being within the Cheshire County League system, which usually gives me entertaining games and with Divisional leaders Barrow visiting, my hopes were high this would be achieved.
After disembarking at Stockport station, I made the short fifteen minute walk over to the ground, with Edgeley Park’s floodlights in close proximity. Arriving at just after 12.30pm, I then had a good half-hour or so to wait for the start, which was delayed due to a lack of bails. Ah. The weather wasn’t helping much either, with a cool breeze blowing across the ground which features a cenotaph to commemorate those members lost in the World Wars.
Now on a more positive note, the pavilion’s a good ‘un so there was that to shelter in front of for the game, but before we get to it, here’s a bit of back-story to the hosts today, Stockport CC…
Stockport Cricket Club was formed in 1855, the club playing at two prior venues before moving to the Cale Green Oval on Beech Road in 1883. During its time, the club has hosted famous names such as Lancashire & England legend Brian Statham, as well as the infamous Indian all-rounder Vinoo Mankad. For those who don’t know, the “Mankad” is the lawful – yet considered unsporting in some quarters – feat of running-out a backing-up batsman whilst in the process of delivering the ball. Mankad was the instigator in the original matter, running out Australian batsman Bill Brown. The last occurrence of this in international cricket was Mark Chapman being dismissed by Aamir Kaleem whilst playing for Hong Kong against Oman in the 2016 Asia Cup Qualifiers. Jos Buttler has also fell victim in this manner.
The club played in the Manchester Cricket Association through to 1937, when they joined the Central Lancashire League. Here, the club had a number of periods of success, with the 1960’s in particular being a dearth of silverware with 12 trophies (spanning both 1st and 2nd XI’s) arriving at the club. The club were eventually forced to leave the CLL in 1998 after financial difficulties and going on to merge with the Stockport Sunday School and taking their sport in the Derbyshire and Cheshire Cricket League.
Here, the club would achieve one league competition every year (over all age groups). 2007 saw Stockport resign from the DCCL and join the Cheshire cricketing pyramid for 2008-onwards where they advanced through to find themselves currently in the Cheshire Cricket League’s Division 2 (third tier) after advancing through the Cheshire Cricket League’s three divisions, winning Division 3 in 2008, Division 2 in 2009 and Division 1 in 2010 to reach the Cheshire County League. Here, they’ve remained in the Division 2 for their tenure so far, finishing a best of third on three occasions, including last year, narrowly missing promotion in 2013. They currently sit 8th.
The game got underway in strange circumstances, the first ball of the match striking the helmet and resulting in five penalty runs, a first for me off the first ball of a match! The action continued two balls later as Stockport opener Zafar Jatoi was trapped in front by the pacy Barrow opening bowler Phil Johnson for nought and this brought South African Aidan van Eeden to the crease.
van Eeden (80*) would go on to underpin Stockport’s innings in a stoic knock, but there was no other real score of note until the lower order. This was largely down to the early strikes of Johnson, who would go on to dismiss James Barber who chopped on to his stumps for two, before adding the wicket of George Barber (11) who was well caught by namesake George Bryant, who dived down low to his left to snare him one-handed. At this point, Stockport were in some trouble at 28-3 and yet another low score for me to witness this season looked on the cards as Dan joined me once again.
This became even more likely as the spin of Iroshan de Silva came to the fore. De Silva, whom I last saw go a long way to saving a game for Oulton Park at Didsbury a couple of years back, would go on to decimate the middle order around van Eeden. His first scalp was that of Patrick Firth, bowled for nine, before he swiftly doubled his tally by dismissing opposing skipper Danny Barber for just one, the Stockport captain getting frustrated and lobbing one high to mid-on.
This brought Jack Briggs to the crease and he offered van Eeden some good support. The two would add 64 for the sixth wicket the partnership seeing the calm overseas passing his half-century. Alas, Briggs would not join his team-mate by passing the milestone, falling to de Silva for a well made 30 as he advanced down to the spinner, only to swing at mid-air, resulting in his stumps being rearranged.
Stockport now had something of a platform to play with, though the first-ball dismissal of Kyle Gavin, questionably adjudged leg-before to tormentor-in-chief de Silva, and the loss of #9 Mike Eley for nine, who drove to cover off Maneesh Nissanka’s medium-pacers saw them pegged back once more and it looked as though reaching 150 could be a task in itself. However, #10 Mark Green was having none of that and joined van Eeden to see out the remainder of the innings, scoring 21 off just 18 deliveries to see his side up to a fairly competitive-looking 185-8, van Eeden in the middle for all but three deliveries of the fifty over in his 149-ball knock.
The interval saw myself and Dan head into the pavilion bar, which was dominated by the large board documenting all those who’ve held positions in the club since the 1800’s. A pint of Strongbow accompanied me through the interval, whilst we watched some of the England World Cup game as the rain began to fall outside. Would I finally run out of luck in terms of dodging the precipitation?
Luckily, the answer was no and the players were soon back on the field. We finished up our respective refreshments and headed out onto the pavilion steps and took a seat on a bench, where we were soon offered some of the left-over cake and sandwiches from the lunch break. The cake was duly taken, though I had to pass up the butties, as they’d been pre-buttered and that’s where I draw the line!
Anyway, Barrow’s chase got off to a bad start, as they lost opener/skipper Jahangir Afridi early, as he was adjudged to have been run-out whilst backing-up. This was another dodgy one, as I’m sure the umpire didn’t actually see it and this view was shared by the guy sitting next to us, who we got talking to for the next few overs about all things local cricket related.
However, Afridi’s opening partner de Silva added to his bowling success with a flowing innings, as he got his side well ahead of the chase. He was ably supported by David McClements (14), before he was out to Adam Porter’s spin as he smashed a steepler high into the air before it was taken, watchfully, at mid-off. But, the score was 68-2 by this point and the chase was still looking a formality as Dan was forced to head home ahead of his night-shift in town. Anyone envious?!
But, this changed somewhat with the dismissal of de Silva just nine runs later, as he nicked Kyle Gavin’s pace bowling behind to fall for 41. Again, though, Barrow’s batsmen saw them out of what could have been a sticky situation and advanced the score onto 104-3 and both Macca Harrison-Hooton and Maneesh Nissanka were looking comfortable enough and going along well.
But Nissanka (13) then had a bit of a rush of blood. Having just hit two boundaries in quick succession, he felt he could clear the fielder and long-off. He was wrong and the ball nestled in the hands of the man on the boundary and Porter had his second wicket. Stockport’s reaction to the wicket showed they still felt they were right in the game as well.
But in repetitive fashion, Barrow’s fifth-wicket pairing would take their time and take their side out of a spot of bother and ever closer to the victory line. When Harrison-Hooton (32) was back in the pavilion, courtesy of James Barber delivering a yorker for his first delivery and getting through the set man’s defences, the score stood at 143-5 and the visitors needed just forty-three to win.
However, this seemed in doubt when Lee Dwyer was bowled by Mike Eley’s quick seamers for just a single and just four wickets remained. But, Andy Metcalf (41* off 46 balls) and Phil Johnson (18* off 19 balls) saw off the Stockport threat (though Metcalf was dropped late on), to ensure the Great Barrow-based side won with almost eleven overs to spare and headed home with the points.
I arrived back at Stockport after a quick jog which enabled me to return home an hour earlier than expected to signal the end of this summer’s cricket blogs. Will there be more? Maybe in another format…Who knows, but for now it’s back to football for the next eleven months….
Value For Money: 9