Manchopper at the Cricket….(Friends United CC)

Result: Friends United CC 106 (26.4 overs) BEAT Droylsden CC 2nd XI 33 (21.1 overs) by 73 runs (GMCL Division 5 S&E)

Venue: Alexandra Park (Saturday 17th June 2017, 1.30pm)

Att: 45 (approx., mostly sunbathers!)

For my penultimate club cricket game of this summer, it was already pre-determined that a visit to Whalley Range was to be undertaken. With the temperatures reaching a balmy 25+ degrees, was there a case for the town to become the Costa Del Range (minus the sea, of course). Probably not but, regardless of this fact, I headed into Chorlton before undertaking the sweltering 20-minute walk down to the ground, which sits just past the football grounds of Whalley Range and Maine Road.

Now before we go any further, you may have looked back at the title, or result, and be thinking to yourself “What an idiot, he’s put the wrong blog up”. However, dear reader, this is definitively not the case. You see, I arrived at Range’s Kingsbrook Road ground to find it deserted bar a few tennis players on the neighbouring courts. This was looking a little bit awry.

After seeking some advice from one of the players, I headed through the main door to find the bar area devoid of souls and the only pairs of eyes being those peering down from the pictures adorning the walls. Outside stood a cricket field. But no players were to be seen. Anywhere. This didn’t look good and after a quick check of CricHQ, it was confirmed that there was no game here today, as the visitors from Wythenshawe CC (whom I’d visited the previous weekend) had conceded the game at some point in the lead up to the contest. Incidentally, their 2nd XI game was also called off so hopefully all is well there. Or maybe they were all sun-seeking (or beer-seeking) and taking advantage of a rare sun-baked day! NB: I’m sure this wasn’t actually the case.

All deserted here…

….so it’s off to my eventual venue

So, I was left to frantically search the fixture list for a nearby game I could get to in the best time to not miss too much play having, by this point, missed around fifteen minutes of the 1pm starts in the GMCL.  Thankfully, I discovered that a club by the name of Friends United CC were hosting Droylsden CC’s 2nd XI at nearby Alexandra Park which sits a short walk away and, even more positive news was the fact it was a 1.30 start and I had a good 15 minutes to undertake the trip.

Arriving at the public park at just before the scheduled start of play, I made my way around the avian-abound pair of ponds to the large pavilion building that sits within the two large, circular grassy areas that constitute the playing fields/sun-bathing areas here. Ignoring the unused football sticks for today, I was instead heading for the right-hand side field and to the six sticks of wood that sat at either end of the wicket.

Welcoming signs

Off to the pavilion

Bit of history about it.

Friends United found themselves batting first and got off to a fairly decent start, reaching fifteen without loss within the third over, before they lost opener and skipper Tan Mahmood, who fell caught & bowled to pacey Droylsden opening bowler Roche for just two.

A decent partnership followed, which saw opener Naveed Arshad and wicketkeeper-batsman Muhammad Faraz advance the score onto forty-two with watchful knocks, tied in with a bit of aggression here and there. Arshad (15) was next to go, the first of spinner Jamie Walker’s impressive haul as one looked to stay a little low and crept beyond the opener’s defences. 42-2 then became 42-4, Walker adding the scalps of Saqib Butt- bowled round his legs next ball- and Nasir Ali who was trapped LBW just three deliveries later. This all meant Walker had claimed three wickets during the twelfth over to seemingly put his side in the driving seat.

Match Action

Solid Block

This seemed all the more the case, as both Faraz (20) and Faizan Faizan (4) were dismissed with the score on 57, with Walker and Rob Tipping taking the respective wickets. Faraz fell first after advancing, but missing, and seeing his stumps rearranged and Faizan soon after, after being beaten all ends up. The collapse would continue with Shahid Nawaz’s (five) wicket going to Walker to secure him a five-fer (and another out bowled) and by the time Ali Asif (eight) was sent back to the pavilion (yes you guessed it, bowled) by Tipping, Friends United found themselves eight down with just seventy-four on the board.

A bit of late order hitting by numbers 9 & 10, Zeshan Arshad and Saeed Nazeer (11) saw the hosts on and into three-figures before Nazeer’s innings was ended by destroyer-in-chief Walker, who trapped him on the back-foot and was rewarded with his sixth wicket. And the Friends United innings was over in the next…well…over, when Hasan Raza was knocked over, bowled (surprisingly!) by Tipping to mean Arshad was left stranded on a decent 21 and Droylsden 2nd XI would be chasing what looked like a modest total.

Match Action

Got him!

A quick turnaround due to a lack of facilities meant we were back underway after a ten-minute break. Another quick start followed, with Droylsden seconds reaching eleven after 1.3 overs and there was no sign of what was to immediately follow.

First, B. Ahmed (nine) was dismissed LBW to quick bowler Arshad, much to his chagrin as we showed his bat to the umpire in frustration. He clearly thought he’d hit it, the umpire thought differently and his decision is, of course, final. Ahmed had to drag himself back to the pavilion, but he wouldn’t be alone in the dressing room for long as Sabir was dismissed for a second-ball duck to the same bowler after missing a clip to leg and being trapped in front for a much more straight-forward-looking decision.

From then on, it was the quintessential “dig-in” performance by the visiting batsmen, with only five runs added over the next five overs. Alas, this only staved off the wickets for the same period before Tipping fell for an eighteen-ball two, missing a drive against Arshad who rearranged his stumps and secure his third wicket. An over later and it was 18-4 as Nesbitt (one) found himself heading back after being rapped on the pads by Arshad’s new ball partner Saeed Nazeer.

Just Drive

Block

The innings by this point, had slowed to hardly a snails-pace, with just about one an over being added as the hosts turned the screw. This led to frustration getting the better of Graham who cut to point where Shahid Nawaz took the catch off Ali Asif’s medium-pacers. Three overs later and Screen (two) fell to the spin of Saqib Butt, after missing a big swing and being another to fall the way of bowled.

After K. Ahmed’s 28-ball innings ended without him troubling the scorers, as he hit one down mid-off’s throat off Tan Mahmood’s mediums/spinners, Droylsden were seven down with just twenty-five scored. They didn’t last too much longer, as just over four overs of play saw Friends United take the final two wickets. Firstly Owens fell for yet another nought on the day, becoming Mahmood’s second victim, before the innings ended after Walker was castled by Butt and with only ten men batting, the nine taken were enough to secure the hosts an easy win in a quite remarkable match.

Late action

Teams head off

A quick journey back was undertaken to signal yet another early finish this year, where I’ve only seen three teams (in blogs anyway) pass one hundred in an innings. Madness. Anyway, next week sees a return into the Cheshire County League and a trip to Stockport to finish off the club cricketing summer prior to the return of football from July onwards. It’s going to be a long run!

RATINGS:

Game: 4

Ground: 5

Food: N/A

Beer: N/A

Value For Money: 7