Manchopper at the Cricket (Whalley Range CC)

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Result: Whalley Range 185-8 (50 overs) BEAT Stayley CC 127ao (4 overs) by 58 RUNS (GMCL Division 1A)

Venue: Kingsbrook Road (Saturday 9th June 2018, 1.30pm)

Att: 10-20 (ranging, approx.)

Squeezing in a game of the leather and willow prior to the outbreak of World Cup Fever, which may just bring this year’s campaign to a very premature end, I travelled the short journey over to Whalley Range’s Kingsbrook Road ground for their Greater Manchester Cricket League game against bottom side, Stayley CC. The Stalybridge-based side and GMCL new-boys travelled to Range on a quest to secure their first points of the season, while the Rangers began a few places above their opponents.

A short bus journey dropped me off just five minutes from the ground, where I arrived around twenty minutes prior to the start of play. Whalley Range’s ground is in a lovely setting, surrounded by trees and suburban housing, with large Victorian buildings towering over the ground from across the road. The pavilion stands in the corner of the ground and is flanked by a few tennis courts, whilst it also has a small patioed area to its front, which provides views of the pitch and is a nice place to enjoy the sun, especially on such a warm day as this day was. To the opposite side of the building is the small gate which provides entrance, which is sandwiched between the pavilion and the impressive-looking scoreboard.

Whalley Range CC

Arriving at the ground

Whalley Range Cricket Club were formed in 1845 and have previously had a number of county players, a collection of rugby internationals, a lacrosse legend, a famous composer, a renowned amateur astronomer, a ‘prolific’ author, three Olympians and two future England captains represent them. They originally played at local grounds situated on College Grove (later a school) and briefly played at Hough End (part of which became a WWI aerodrome) prior to moving into their Kingsbrook Road ground, whereupon they benefitted from a number of players from the nearby William Hulme school, which explains why the Old Hulmeians name is emblazoned within the steel fencing outside the pavilion. The club have also played at Old Trafford on a regular basis over past years.

Incidentally, Range also have a celebrity supporter in darting legend John Gwynne, whom the blackboard next to the entry gate showed had sponsored the previous night’s twenty20 game against Denton, this fact somewhat given away by the ‘180’ that had been written in between his name!

Celebs in Range

Pavilion building and big flag….

More recently, the club have competed in the Manchester Association through the 1980’s (and likely earlier), ’90’s and early to mid-2000’s, prior to moving into the Manchester & District Cricket League. Relegated from the Premier Division in 2006, they were promoted back from Division One the next year and remained there until 2012 when they were again relegated. After one season back in Division One, Range switched into the Saddleworth & District Cricket League’s Division One where they remained through to 2016 when they joined the newly formed Greater Manchester Cricket League and were placed in Division One, where they have remained to this day, currently playing in the ‘A’ split of the division.

Sides enter the pitch

First ball….

Anyway, it soon became clear that the hosts would be batting first and the two sides soon followed the two umpires out onto the field of play and we were soon underway. Range got off to a watchful start, the opening pair of Faizan Ahmad and Zarrar Malik putting on a stand of 25 in the first ten overs, before the latter gloved one down the leg-side to keeper Anton Jones off the bowling of Stayley’s overseas professional, Hamza Nadeem, for 13. I was joined by Dan for the remainder of our stay (we left shortly before the end) just prior to his wicket going, so he clearly brought the bad luck!

Ahmad (20) would follow exactly six overs later, falling to the first ball of the 17th over – skipper Peter Skuse trapping him lbw after an attempted sweep, before Range’s own pro, Marwan Muhammad, and James Newton, their overseas amateur player, came together and laid a fine foundation for their innings to go on from. After initially continuing the watchful theme, they – Newton especially – increasingly became more aggressive and they went on to eventually bring up their 50 partnership and taking the score into three figures.

Match Action

From the undergrowth….

However, things would soon take a turn for the worse, as the hosts lost three quick wickets for not many. First, Muhammad was caught at mid-wicket off spinner Skuse for 29, before Sully Malik (five) and Janaid Maqsood both fell to Hamza Nadeem in short order, the former leg-before, the latter bowled by a fine yorker for a golden duck. Newton, though, remained, his defences not breached and he found a fine foil in Ateeque Din. The two shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 40, during which Newton brought up a fine half-century and saw the duo advance the score onto 151-5. But disaster struck not long afterwards for Newton, as he was castled by another spinner, Naveed Rehman, again attempting to sweep, having made 54 off 83 deliveries.

There was only six overs left at this point and it became pretty crucial which way they would go. Range needed a few more to feel in a good position on what looked a fairly sluggish pitch, while Stayley needed to dismiss – or indeed restrict – their hosts for as little as possible. Unfortunately for the visitors, Din soon put his foot down and began to advance the scoring rate. He crashed an unbeaten 40 off just 41 balls, whilst being supported by Junaid Fakir (one) and his captain Waqas Malik (nine) – who were both yorked and resultantly bowled, becoming the final two victims of Hamza Nadeem’s five-fer.

That’s out!

That’s digging one out!

They had led Range to an eventual 185-8 off their 50 overs, Din and Usman Saleem (1*) ending with their wickets intact, whilst Hamza Nadeem’s 5-36 was highly impressive, coming from 15 overs, sharing the bulk of the work with Skuse (2-49) who also got through fifteen. Rehman, who grabbed the other wicket, ended with 1-32 off four.

For the interval, Dan and I headed for the clubhouse, where a decently sized spread had been put out for the players and officials, though it was obviously off-limits for a few of the players, due to their participation in Ramadan, with one player having to take a break shortly into the second innings due to, seemingly, exhaustion. He was ok though and I think returned after a half-hour or so away. Anyway, side-track over and with beer in hand (pint of Stella) we waited out the rest of the break whilst chatting to one of the two umpires about the Windies test and also a recent England game. It certainly went better than the Scotland one, that’s for sure!

In the clubhouse

Honours & pictures adorn the walls

Stayley’s opening pair were soon out in the middle and ready to go. However, their innings started badly and it looked as though they would fold fairly swiftly. To be fair to them, though, the first wicket – that of Martin Downend – appeared to have been somewhat iffy judging by his reaction as he came off, with maybe an inside edge not being picked up. Either way, he had to go for four, leg-before to Ateeque Din’s seamers, and Nick Woodhead soon followed, Range skipper and opening bowler Waqas Malik duly bowling him before he could trouble the scorers with one that looked to keep a bit low. 10-2 off 6.3 overs didn’t seem to bode too well for the bottom side, though they could feel somewhat hard done by.

But they showed steely resilience in the middle order who, along with opener Bhavin Patel, steadied the ship somewhat. Patel and A Ahmed added 51 together before the former was bowled by another seamer, Saleem Akram, for a watchful 36 off 70 balls and when Ahmed (18) followed just under two overs later, caught in the covers off the same bowler, it looked as though a collapse could be on once again. However, captain Skuse (19) and wicket-keeper-batsman Anton Jones came together and began to take their side slowly towards their target, adding 30 together and getting it down to under one hundred, when the former was dismissed by the Range pro, spinner Marwan Mohammad, as he skied one out to long-on – where Usman Saleem was stationed, and he duly took a comfortable-looking catch to dismiss him, to have Stayley in a bit of bother at 92-5.

On the drive

Angled

Solid

Our time at the game was approaching its usual 7pm deadline, though with Stayley still in the game, I was somewhat reluctant to leave and wanted to stay on and see which way it would go. But, just before we were about to reach the point of no return (I guess I could have returned had I wanted to…), Hamza Nadeem, the visitors’ pro, was caught out in the covers for just two and that looked to be game up. Indeed, as we were heading out of the gates, I reckoned I’d overheard another wicket go down, and that looks to be the case looking at the scorecard, as Joshua Healey (one) was caught and bowled by Akram who now had four wickets to his name, at a time that would tie-in with that.

It seemed to be all down to Jones now with only the lower-order to accompany him. He was given some good support by Kyle McQuillan which enabled them to get the score up to 120-7, before McQuillan was dismissed by Mohammed, stumped by ‘keeper Newton, for nine. The innings was soon wrapped up, with Naveed Rehman being run-out by Junaid Fakir without scoring and Mohammed rounded off the innings in the 43rd over with his third scalp, that of Ronnie Cameron for three (caught also by Fakir), to ensure Stayley’s winless, and pointless, run continued. As it was, Jones was left stranded on an unbeaten 28 and we’d only missed five overs. Damn uncertain results in cricket!

A winning score

Range meanwhile headed up the table to 6th place and Akram ended the pick of their bowlers, taking 4-45 from his fifteen overs, while Mohammed was impressive in taking an economical 3-19 from nine. Din (1-14 from 5) and Malik (1-26 from 9) also bowled tightly, with Saleem being the only bowler to not take a wicket in the innings, but again kept the scores down with 0-20 from five.

A trouble-free journey back would follow for us, followed by a couple more drinks back closer to home. It was good to get a, pretty-much, full game in at Range, having visited briefly a few years back and it was a decent contest too, though one that went on far longer than I’m used to at club level, considering the silliness of last season’s scores! I’m still uncertain as to whether I’ll do another club this summer, as the World Cup is far more attractive than the Euros a couple of years back, but we’ll see. Anyway, thanks to both teams for putting on a good contest and best of luck for the season!

RATINGS:

Game: 6

Ground: 6

Food: N/A

Value For Money: 9

Manchopper at the Cricket….(Lancashire CCC)

 

Result: Lancashire CCC 268 & 179-3 BEAT Surrey CCC 201-8d & 242 by 7 wickets (County Championship Division 1)

Venue: Old Trafford (25-28 September 2017, 10.30am)

Att: A few thousand over the four days

With me having neglected blogging a visit to Old Trafford previously and with yet another cricket season about to come to a close, I figured the final game of this 2017 season would be high time to get this done. Also, with the Red Rose welcoming Surrey to OT in a straight fight for the runners-up spot in Division 1, there was some pretty high stakes (and cash) on the line. Before getting into the game, here’s the story of Lancashire County Cricket Club:

EOT

(A Brief) History Lesson:

Lancashire County Cricket Club was founded in 1864 as a successor to “important match” club Manchester Cricket Club (1816-1864). Manchester played against Sheffield in the first recorded “Roses” game, with the two clubs competing as Lancashire & Yorkshire respectively. We won’t mention who won here. The club competed against similar clubs named Nottingham, Surrey & Sussex, as well as the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club), still headquartered at Lord’s. After playing at grounds on Moss Lane, the Manchester Botanical Gardens and the G.P. Codie’s Ground in Eccles, the club left the Gardens in 1856 – due to it being bought to be part of an art exhibition – and now called Old Trafford their home. 1864 saw Manchester superseded by the county club and cease to have “important” status in its own right, Lancashire CCC instead being that status.

LCCC played their first first-class game the following year against Middlesex at Old Trafford and have so far recorded nine Championship titles (one shared), five 40-over cup wins, 11 50/55 over competition wins (including the B&H Trophy) and a sole T20 Cup triumph. They’ve played at Old Trafford since their inception and became an ‘official’ first-class side in 1895. The club was “unofficial” County Champions four times (three shared) between 1879 & ’89 (their only outright win coming in 1881) and took part in the first official Championship season in 1890, when champions were now decided by points, not the press. Seriously!

LCCC

1895 saw the current pavilion constructed and Archie McLaren made 424 in one innings for Lancs which remains the highest-score by an Englishman in first-class cricket. Meanwhile Johnny Briggs – whose career spanned 1879 to 1900 – became the first Lancashire player to achieve the feat of 10,000 career runs, along with 1,000 wickets. Ernest Tyldesley is the club’s leading run-scorer with 34,222 runs over 573 matches, with legendary fast bowler Brian Statham (who has his own end and road named after him at the ground) having the most wickets at 1,816 in 430 games between 1950 & 1968. Incidentally, Alex Davies became the first ever Lancashire wicket-keeper to make 1,000 runs in a season in this very blog match, during his first-innings 54.

The club won their first two “official” titles in 1897 & 1904. Between 1926 & 1934, the Red Rose added a further five titles (’26, ’27, ’28, ’30 & ’34) and shared the Championship with Surrey in 1950. Cyril Washbrook would become the club’s first professional captain four years later, but the title wouldn’t arrive at OT again for another seventy-seven years. However, the side of the late ’60’s and 70’s became a highly successful one-day outfit, featuring skipper Jack Bond alongside the likes of Clive Lloyd. They won the Sunday League in ’69 & ’70, and the One-Day Cup four times in six seasons between 1970 & 1975 (’70, ’71, 72′ 75). This one-day format success would continue into the 1980’s, with the B&H Cup won for the first time in 1984, the 1988 Refuge Cup and a third Sunday League in 1989, before more triumphs would follow in the ’90’s, the likes of Graeme Fowler, Patrick Patterson, Wasim Akram and Paul Allott proving a pivotal part of the side around these times.

Honours Boards

Four further B&H wins between 1990 & ’98 (’90, ’95, ’96 & ’98) were joined by more 40-over silverware in 1998 & ’99 as Michael Atherton, Glen Chapple, Warren Hegg and Andrew Flintoff came to the forefront of the side, along with the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan wearing the shirt. A Division Two 40-over win in 2003 would later also follow as James Anderson (who has the other end at the ground now named after himself) and Stuart Law replaced stalwarts such as Neil Fairbrother, Graham Lloyd and Ian Austin.

After Championship restructuring for the Millennium, Lancashire were placed in the First Division and have remained there for all but three seasons (2005, 2012 & 2014), with each Second Division spell lasting just one season each.. This era saw Gary Keedy, Mal Loye and Mark Chilton form the remainder of the team’s spine, with Carl Hooper and Dominic Cork adding to the side. The title win of 2011, which ended the 77-year wait, saw the breakthrough years of the longer-serving Kyle Hogg and up-and-comer Simon Kerrigan, Steven Croft hitting the winning runs at Taunton, as Lancashire beat Somerset to take the title, despite playing the majority of the season at Liverpool, with OT being redeveloped as a Test Match venue.

Some notable happenings

They’d go on to win the 2013 Division 2 title, the first time the club had won it, having been promoted as runners-up on the previous two occasions. The last silverware to arrive at Old Trafford came in 2015, in the form of the T20 Cup. Last season saw Lancs staving off relegation successfully on the last day, along with a number of other clubs.

After missing the first day due to prior commitments, I arrived bright and early at 10.30am for the start of Day 2. The game had already moved on at pace, with the visitors, after losing the toss, calling their batsmen in on 201-8, in what some have termed an “unsporting” declaration, in that this denied Lancs a further bowling point in their quest to upstage the visitors in the table. Sam Curran was top-scorer with an important unbeaten 56. Lancashire then survived the remainder of the opening day to end up on 17-0 heading into the second morning, with ‘keeper-batsman Alex Davies and Rob Jones having their respective wickets intact.

The weather began warmly enough and with a slight breeze, with Davies and Jones continuing on fairly comfortably. Davies was by far the more aggressive of the pair, heading on past his half-century whilst the watchful Jones remained in single figures for most of the morning. Jones would eventually become the first wicket of Day 2, edging to Scott Borthwick in the slips off Rikki Clarke.

Match Action

Match Action

This wicket would signal an alarming collapse within the Lancashire top-order, with Liam Livingstone (one) lasting just a few frenetic balls before being trapped in front by Surrey skipper Gareth Batty’s off-spin. He would be followed into the pavilion by Davies (54), who became Clarke’s second victim when clipping to mid-wicket and the veteran West Indian Shiv Chanderpaul (one), lbw to Clarke. From 69-0, Lancashire were now 75-4.

The carnage didn’t stop there, South African Dane Vilas (two) also going leg-before to Batty with the last ball before lunch to leave the home side on 75-4 and in some disarray. You could argue the break came at just the wrong time for Surrey, who would have fancied their chances of cranking up the pressure and running through the remainder of the lower-order. As it was, they have to head in for something to eat, and I joined them, heading to the pavilion for some chips, peas and gravy, for the decently priced £2.60. Not too shabby. As I exited to take a pic of the old bell at the pavilion, the guy guarding the door kindly offered to take my picture with it instead. Cheers!

A spot of lunching…

What a bell…!

With lunch finished up and out of the way, I made my way round to the second of the two-tiered stands to continue my lap of the ground. I would end up watching the majority of the session from here in the company of Wrexham native Mike. On the field, a rebuilding job was ongoing with skipper Steven Croft and former Proteas Test all-rounder Ryan McLaren beginning the recovery. Alas, McLaren (16) would fall soon after they passed the 50-partnership, Batty with another wicket in the same fashion as his previous two.

This would bring Tom Bailey to the crease and he proved a fine foil for Croft, the pair playing themselves into some form with the bat, Croft especially so, considering his struggles with the red-ball this summer. The captain was proving his worth here though, taking a liking to Stuart Meaker’s (0-42 from six) pace especially. Croft passed his half-century mid-way through the afternoon, before Bailey (31) would go in strange fashion, lobbing the ball up pretty much nowhere, with it landing in the hands of Pope to give Scott Borthwick’s leg-spin a wicket.

Up in the Gods

Pitch invading. Above board of course!

Following the tea break, Croft would go on to notch his century, his first of the Championship season, and advanced Lancashire beyond 250, before he’d eventually fall to the first delivery with the new ball, strangling one through to Ben Foakes off Tom Curran for an eventual 115. A fine knock.

The innings soon subsided following his wicket, Stephen Parry (20) and Saqib Mahmood (nought) both nicking to slip off Jade Dernbach, leaving Matt Parkinson unbeaten on five. Surrey would go on to pretty easily see out the remainder of the day thanks to some wayward bowling, England opener Mark Stoneman being aggressive in doing so.

Croft gets to 100

Surrey begin their reply

The old(ish) & the new

I returned for a few hours over Day 3, with Richard, a Lancs member I know well. Watching on, it soon became apparent that the similarities between this and the previous day were very apparent and strange. An easy-seeming opening hour for Stoneman and Rory Burns soon gave way to late-morning mayhem. Surrey would go on to repeat the Lancashire collapse from Day 2, with Stoneman falling two short of his century, nicking to slip off the part-time spin of Liam Livingstone. Livingstone would soon put the “part-time” description of his bowling in unquestionable doubt by going on a destructive spree through the visitors’ middle order.

After Parry had Burns lbw for 45 swiftly after Stoneman had returned to the pavilion, the Surrey middle-order followed. Following the arrival of Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara for his final first-class innings, Borthwick (four) was the next to fall, snaffled at slip by Vilas off Livingstone, before Foakes celebrated his England Ashes call-up with a golden duck, becoming Livingstone’s third victim. The spinner continued on, taking the scalp of Pope (3) who smashed one high out to Mahmood at deep square leg before adding the wicket of the dangerous Rikki Clarke (13), leg-before to the last ball of the session to end up with his first career 5-for. Parry also took the wicket of Curran (nought) – clean bowled attempting a big drive – between these. From being 154 without loss, Surrey now found themselves 197-7. Crazy.

Match Action. Two legends in eleven.

Sangakkara heads off unbeaten

Following the lunch break, it was a return round to the two-tiered stand from the previous day, where we’d go on to witness a slight fight-back from Gareth Batty (33) and Sangakkara (35*) snuffed out thanks to the over confidence of the former. Having just smashed Livingstone for a six towards a small band of away fans, Batty decided to repeat the trick, only to spoon it straight up, where the bowler took a return catch to secure eventual figures of 6-52 from 18 overs. Parry soon cleaned up the tail, taking both Meaker (bowled) and Dernbach (lbw) without scoring to end the Surrey second innings on 242 and Sangakkara, somewhat fittingly was unbeaten to end his longer-format career.

That would prove my cue to leave, with Lancashire needing 175 for victory. I reckoned they wouldn’t manage it in the day, though they would go on to give a real fist of it, with only bad-light and latterly rain denying them a likely three-day triumph. By the end of the third day, the Red Rose county would require a further forty-four on the final day, with seven wickets remaining. Those to fall in the meantime were Alex Davies (30), trapped lbw by Clarke after a solid 40-run opening stand with Jones, before Jones himself was out after tea, caught by Meaker off Batty for 35. Croft would be the other wicket to fall, the ball ricocheting off his elbow and onto the stumps off Clarke to send him on his way for nought, but Livingstone and Chanderpaul would see Lancs safely to the close.

Finishing up

That’s it!

I decided to return for the short final day (all five overs or so), again joining Richard but this time sitting in front of the members pavilion and being a bit posher(!). With the aggressive Livingstone passing fifty, you felt he’d knock off the runs in double-quick fashion. But it was the usually stoic Windies legend Chanderpaul who’d go on to show off his hitting skill, cracking two quick sixes off Borthwick, before bringing the scores level and smashing the same bowler for a final four to end the game and secure Lancashire the second position behind runaway winners Essex. Surrey ended up in P3.

That’s that for another season of the leather and willow. May should see the hibernation of this section of the blog come to an end but, for now, it’s time for the football to take on undivided attention. It was good to see Sangakkara bow out and see Lancs win in my first visit of the season for Championship cricket (though I had seen their Second XI game at Urmston where I met my cricketing hero Shiv!). The real stuff. For those of you who don’t care for that, here’s to May!

Meeting Shiv was a great moment.

RATINGS:

Game: 9

Ground: 9

Programme: Scorecard-80p

Food: 7

Value For Money: 9

 

 

Manchopper at the Cricket….(Stockport CC)

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.

Arriving at the ground

Notified

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…

History Lesson:

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.

A bit of grandeur

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.

View from the pavilion

Match Action

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.

Match Action

Match Action

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?

Great words…

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?!

View from the cenotaph mound

Match Action

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.

That’s (about to be) out!

Living on the edge.

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….

RATINGS:

Game: 7

Ground: 8

Food: 5

Beer: 5

Value For Money: 9

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

 

 

Manchopper at the Cricket….(Wythenshawe CC)

Result: Wythenshawe CC 88 (31 overs) LOST TO Astley & Tyldesley CC 89-4 (20 overs) by 6 wickets (GMCL Division 2)

Venue: Wythenshawe Sports Club, Longley Lane (Saturday 10th June 2017, 3pm)

Att: 10 (approx.)

I was surprised to be getting any cricket today at all. The weather forecast in the week leading up to the game went through the full cycle, from full sun to full rain and everywhere in between, eventually improving over the Friday evening to a point where some play looked possible. As such, the trip to Longley Lane and the Wythenshawe Cricket Club was on.

The trip there was an easy one, two buses with one quick switch seeing me dropped off five minutes from the ground, though the pretty leaden skies above weren’t filling me with much hope that I’d be seeing much in terms of entertainment! Anyway, I arrived at the ground’s driveway unperturbed ahead of the 1.30pm start….only to find out I’d gotten the start time wrong for the second straight weekend. This seems to be the equivalent of my football trips “getting lost” of the cricket blogs.

Arriving at the ground

Anyway, luckily I’d decided to get there at about 1pm anyway and so had only missed just under two overs and Wythenshawe’s first nine runs. Not too much of a fail then. Entering through the “WCC” emblazoned gate and onto the undercover outdoor seating area, I settled in to watch the home side’s innings against Divisional leaders Astley & Tyldesley. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything with regard to Wythenshawe CC’s history, so it’s on with the show!!

The Wythenshawe Club…

…and, more specifically, WCC

Wythenshawe’s innings got off to a pretty good start, with the hosts passing fifty in good time, despite the early loss of Ryan Burgess (six) in the fourth over, who nicked an attempted cut shot through to Dean Petrie behind the stumps off the bowling of Jordan Hughes.

Continuing on at around five an over, Burgess’ opening partner Lewis Crowther, along with Sam Grant, took on the Astley & Tyldesley opening bowlers, though not without risk as they offered up two chances. However both were spurned with one steepler and a slip chance being grassed.

Blog regular Dan had joined me soon after these and his arrival coincided with a complete collapse in the Wythenshawe batting ranks. Firstly, Grant (17) became the first victim of tormenter-in-chief James Cutt, the spinner enticing the Wythy number 3 into going for another cut stroke and succeeding in finding the edge which flew to slip where Nathan McDonnell took a sharp catch above his head.

View from the covered area

On the cut

Wythenshawe, though, were still in a decent position at 61-2, but it was all downhill from here for the hosts. ‘Keeper-batsman Nassir’s stay at the crease was a short one, scoring just five before becoming the first of Jordan O’Malley’s scalps, spooning a shot high in the air to point. One run later he was followed back to the dressing rooms by Crowther, who was trapped leg-before by Cutt for the innings top-score of 32.

O’Malley & Cutt continued to turn the screw, the former striking to remove Yadala LBW for nought after a strangle-looking appeal where everyone went up in stages, before the tall spinner removed Wythy skipper Craig McCoy (one) via a comfortable caught and bowled, the ball being chipped back at no pace. From 61-1, the home side now found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 76-6, five wickets having fallen within fourteen overs.

Match Action

Match Action

Vijay Muslapuram you felt held to key to Wythenshawe getting any sort of decent score, but he needed someone to remain with him for a while. Unfortunately for him, this support wasn’t forthcoming as O’Malley and Cutt continued to rip through the lower order. Colin Crowther (one) was the seventh man out, run-out attempting a second, before Muslapuram (nine) followed next ball, hitting one straight to mid-off to give O’Malley his third wicket.

Cutt finished off the innings in quick time, removing the final two wickets of Mandava, adjudged caught at short-leg for two, and Mundru caught at slip for a golden duck as Wythenshawe were bundled out for just 88 and the league-leaders looked odds-on to complete a comfortable win. Cutt ended with the fine figures of 5-12, O’Malley supporting him well with 3-16.

Nothing in the diary

The break came and went quickly and soon the Astley & Tyldesley openers were out in the middle and looking to set about knocking off the runs before any rains may have blown in to scupper them. They got off to a pretty good start too, reaching 22-0 after six overs before Cutt was dismissed for fifteen, edging a Muslapuram delivery to slip. A slight glimmer of hope became a bit more of a steady light as Cutt’s opening partner Nathan Moore was dismissed for just four, a big, frustrated-looking drive ending in the gloves of Nassir off the seam-bowling of Grant and ending his becalmed innings.

Aaron Booth added some quick runs to guide the visitors on to 38-2, before McDonnell was dismissed for the third duck of the match, tamely driving Grant down the throat of mid-off who took an easy catch. However, Booth and David Harrison took some of the sting out of the game and the Wythenshawe attack but the rain began to fall and so Astley & Tyldesley’s hand was forced somewhat as they had to up the rate to beat the moisture.

Match Action

Match Action

This resulted in the eventual fall of Booth, LBW to Grant for 25 at just under a run-a-ball, but by that point the scoreboard read 57-4 and the drizzle wasn’t falling hard enough to force the players into leaving the field. However, this wicket only served to bring Petrie to the crease and the ‘keeper was in no mood to hang around in this weather. Coming in during the 16th over, and with thirty-two still required, the game was over by the end of the 20th, Petrie smashing Yadala’s spin for three boundaries (including two big sixes into the gardens) to secure the win for the Division 2 leaders. Petrie ended on 27 not out off 14 deliveries, with Harrison unbeaten on a watchful eleven.

Ex-Old Trafford seats still in use.

Players head out of the drizzle at the close

As a result, we headed off earlier than expected, with Dan even getting to leave earlier than his planned 5pm ahead of his unenviable Parklife shift during the night! The quick journey back was uneventful, though I was back home over two hours before the game was even scheduled to end. Not too shabby. Next up is a planned trip to Whalley Range for Saturday where I will again be watching Wythenshawe. I’m sure they’ll be pleased to hear Dan won’t be there to instigate another collapse!

RATINGS:

Game: 6

Ground: 6

Food: N/A

Beer: 5

Value For Money: 9

 

 

 

 

Manchopper at the Cricket….(Brooklands CC)

Result: Brooklands CC 228-7 (50 overs) DREW WITH Cheadle Hulme CC 215-8 (50 overs) (Cheshire County Cricket League)

Venue: Brooklands Sports Club (Saturday 3rd June 2017, 1pm)

Att: 20 (approx.)

Following the weather dodging over the first two weekends of my cricketing sojourn this summer, I was hoping for some kinder, less stressful conditions for this Saturday’s game at Brooklands Cricket Club in Sale. Was I going to be third-time lucky?

In short, no. In longer terms, I probably was, yes. Now, I may seem as though I’m giving some “crossed-wires” there, but let me explain. I say no as, unbelievably, rain again made an appearance, albeit fleetingly, but this again made no impact on the game as a whole, with me somehow having squeezed in three full contests whilst dodging the April showers. In May & June.

Weather aside, I set off into Sale during the late morning, via a quick stop off in my former workplace in Sale Moor and a quick scouting/tasting visit to the Legh Arms there prior to the game. Well, at least that’s what I thought, as I settled in with my pint through to ten past one, whilst watching darts reviews. Ah, what a life, eh?

Sale Moor

It was only as I was walking down the road to the ground that the realisation hit me “Oh, it was a one-o’clock start this wasn’t it? Indeed, it turned out that is was and I got to the Brooklands Sports Club during the latter part of the ninth over, with the home side having been inserted by the visitors Cheadle Hulme and sitting on 24-1, the wicket missed being that of Chris Hart, caught out for a solitary run. Before we truly get into the game, here’s a bit of backstory to Brooklands CC….

History Lesson:

Brooklands Cricket Club was formed in 1883, after a meeting at a house in Sale to draw up the rules for a new club – Brooklands Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club. Land was rented from the Brooks family estate (the area’s largest landowner) and so began the club’s story.

Brooklands Sports Club

One international cricketer!

Outside of this and the fact the new “pavilion” building came into being around the millennium, there’s very little (that I can find anyway) about the club’s history, though there are some nice pictures on the club’s site’s About Us page: http://www.brooklandssportsclub.co.uk/

Back onto the game at hand and, as I said earlier, I arrived at the ground during the early-ish stages of the home side’s innings. At that point, opener Kevin Carroll, along with ‘keeper-batsman Ali Buchan were going about trying to secure Brooklands a foothold. And they did so, advancing the score past the fifty mark before Carroll joined his opening partner back in the bowels of the Sports Club, departing for 28 to become Nathan Gorman’s first scalp.

Buchan, though, continued on and despite the loss of a disappointed (visually and audibly!) David Madden (7) to Alex Read, passed his own half-century whilst being ably supported by skipper Jack Bagshaw (24), before the latter was dismissed Gorman after coming down the wicket and finding himself stranded. Visiting gloveman Richard Robinson did the honours and whipped off the bails before Luke Maitra was then trapped LBW by Cheadle Hulme’s pro Juan-Jacques (JJ) Strydom without scoring to leave the Bears in a perilous situation, the scoreboard reading 148-5.

Match Action

Buchan’s knock ends in blurred fashion.

Match Action as the skies darken

But Doug Whyley and Buchan (82) put paid to any hopes Cheadle Hulme had of running through the middle-order on a grassy-looking wicket, with the latter becoming ever more expansive as his knock went on, including hitting one maximum towards the bowling green. Buchan, though, was eventually the sixth man to fall, Sohaib Abbasi coming back into the attack to claim his second scalp, following his early dismissal of Hart. Abbasi lured Buchan into playing across a straight one and no contact resulted in the death rattle ringing out, as did some well earned applause as the batsman made his way off.

Whyley (30) fell too towards the end of the innings, the pacey Strydom doubling his wicket tally by taking a comfortable return catch.  However, a decent late innings by Mark Law saw him record 24 not out at better than a run a ball, to see his side through to a competitive-looking 228-7, with Christian Potter unbeaten at the other end on two.

Nice place.

A nice pair.

The interval saw me heading into the adjoining Sports Club itself and an impressive structure it is too. The place is modern and is really quite stylish. As a result, I decided to go against the modern feel and plumped for a Boddington’s (around £2.30 a pint I think) as well as a plate of chips for £2.25. Not too bad at all on both accounts. The drizzle came and went during the interval too and so we were out again pretty much on time and ready to restart. I settled in onto the balcony with Cheadle Hulme chasing 229 for the win.

The visitors got off to a good start too, with Mobashir Hasan plundering away some early boundaries. He was afforded some luck, though, as he was dropped at backward point after a skier, though this miss didn’t prove too costly, the big-hitting opener out soon afterward, chipping one to mid-off off the bowling of Christian Potter for a twenty-two-ball 26.

View from the balcony

From 36-1,  Hasan’s fellow opener Jordan Potts, along with number 3 Hasan Ul (36), saw their side into a comfortable-looking position at 110-1 when the latter was out to spinner Luke Maitra, LBW, just as it was looking as if he was getting truly into his stride. Out strode Strydom (that sounded closer in my head) and he and Potts then went on to advance Cheadle Hulme into what appeared to be a match-winning position.

After a chat with Brooklands supporter Dave up on the balcony who became the second of three people to ask it I was a Cheadle Hulme supporter (maybe it was because I was in the town the previous weekend at Cheadle Hulme Ladybridge, the old home of today’s visitors), I headed off for a couple of laps of the pitch upon 25 overs having been completed of the reply. It was then it all began to unravel for the batting side.

Potts had played nicely, if watchfully, throughout his innings and had passed 50 early on in his partnership with Strydom. He then went on to dominate the majority of it and looked well set to reach three figures when disaster struck and he chipped one down the throat of mid-off, again off Potter, and had to drag himself from the wicket. To be fair, a spell of pretty tight bowling around the time of the wicket had just begun to turn the screw somewhat on the batsmen and perhaps the pressure told. In any case, Potts was gone just three short of a ton and Cheadle Hulme were 191-3 with around five overs left.

Narrow escape

Jump around

When Chris Beckley (seven) was out nine runs later, caught behind off a bottom edge whilst attempting to sweep Maitra, the game looked well and truly up in the air. However, Strydom always looked to have something up his sleeve and when he took thirteen off the 48th over it looked as though he’d paced the chase perfectly and, with a little help, was going to see his side home. Fifteen off twelve was required. During the over, a nasty looking collision with a pole forced Maitra off the field and a ‘sub fielder’ was on for the final two-and-a-bit overs.

However, the pair then agreed to a single off the final ball of the over (I immediately thought Why’ve they done that?!) and that would indeed prove a fatal decision. With Strydom away from the strike, this is what followed: Wicket! Wicket! Everyone gets a wicket!

Four wickets were to fall in the next twelve deliveries, with the 49th over being a double-wicket maiden! Tom Mitchell first dismissed Richard Robinson (one) who, in seeking to give the strike to Strydom, set off down the wicket but ‘keeper Buchan denied the run and with Robinson in no-man’s-land, the stumps were hit.

Late Match Action

Spin began to turn the contest

When Sohail Abbasi was bowled ought for a duck two balls later, the game had suddenly swung in the favour of the hosts, in the form of them now seeking a “winning draw”. But, with Strydom was on strike a chance still existed.

However, his first ball looked to have proved he’d given up the ghost (probably shrewdly), a defensive push followed by a single meant fourteen off four was required. A small chance became no chance as Nick Fish was bowled first ball by Kevin Carroll, who then saw the ‘sub fielder’ catch Alex Read (nought) off the final ball of the match to much humour (plus a styled walk-off) as Cheadle Hulme ended up on 215-8, fourteen short of victory and the unfortunate JJ Strydom left unbeaten on 42 and somewhat marooned.

Sides shake hands after a tough game

So, with that entertaining, then somewhat strange finish to the game seeing the sides deservedly share the spoils, I headed off back to the bus stop for my carriage home. Three games in three weeks. Rain in all, but also a result in each too. Will I be lucky for a fourth time? I think we probably can call that one!

 

RATINGS:

Game: 8

Ground: 6

Food: 7

Beer: 7

Value For Money: 9

 

 

Manchopper at the Cricket…. (Cheadle Hulme Ladybridge CC)

Result: Cheadle Hulme Ladybridge CC 83-6 (36.3 overs) BEAT Maritime CC 79 (23.2 overs) by 4 wickets (Cheshire Cricket League Division 3)

Venue: Ladybridge Club (Saturday 27th May 2017, 1.30pm)

Att: 7 (hc)

Ahead of the second instalment of my cricketing summer, Saturday morning arrived with me still having not decided where I was to be headed. As usual when this predicament rears its head, I handed responsibility over to a random draw and so it was decided I’d be visiting Cheadle Hulme Ladybridge CC and the Ladybridge Club during what appeared to be a sunny afternoon!

After heading up on the bus to Stockport, a quick change over here saw me heading over to Cheadle Hulme, getting off not too far from the Cheadle Heath Nomads’ ground that I’d visited the previous year when I saw one of the muddiest games of football I’ve ever witnessed live. It was crazy and I certainly hoped the weather on that day wouldn’t repeat itself and leave me with no cricket today.

Arriving at the Ladybridge Club

As it was, I arrived at the ground around ten minutes prior to the game getting underway and with the sunshine illuminating the playing field, all looked good for an afternoon basking in the warmth. A minutes silence took place prior to the game in remembrance of those lost and affected by the atrocity in Manchester at the beginning of the week. Of course, my own thoughts are with all the innocent people involved and rest easy those who have had their lives cut short so awfully.

Just two overs into the game though and we were off for rain as the Great British summer struck again! Before we truly get into the contest, though, here’s a bit about Cheadle Hulme Ladybridge CC:

History Lesson:

Cheadle Hulme Ladybridge CC was formed in 1948 as Christ Church CC, originally playing fixtures on local school fields. They joined the Stockport & District Cricket League in 1951, with many of the players being too old to continue in the local youth leagues the club had originally competed in. Playing in Division 2, the club were promoted as runners-up in 1957 and moved to Flowery Field (now home to Stockport Georgians) in Woodsmoor for 1958. With most members hailing from Heaton Moor at this point, a name change saw the club take on the moniker “Moorfield CC”.

1964 saw Moorfield end up as runners-up in the S&DCL and were also losing finalists in the league’s cup final. 1968 saw the club move into the North Cheshire Cricket Federation, but remained here for only one season (though they did have an XI here for the year prior too in addition to their S&DCL one), before moving to the South Lancashire League’s Division 3 where they were immediately successful, finishing as runners-up and winning the Westbrook Cup.

The Ladybridge Club

1971 saw Moorfield move to the current Ladybridge ground, on the back of it having been vacated by Cheadle Hulme CC. A further runners-up spot in Division 2 saw promotion to Division 1. However, a further league switch followed in 1972 with the club going to the High Peak Cricket League, before a further switch in 1976 to the Cheshire Cricket Conference following the disbanding of the High Peak League.

1977 saw, you guessed it, another league switch, the club now finding themselves in the Cheshire Cricket Competition. Here, they fielded the only test cricketer to have played for Moorfield in a league game, Claremont Depeiza. 1980 sw Moorfield change name again to the current one and 1982 saw CH Ladybridge win a double, with the Knockout Trophy and Bardsley Trophy being lifted.

1984 saw Ladybridge win the Cheshire Cricket Competition’s 1st XI cup and the following year saw the arrival of the League title join the honours list. 1986 saw Ladybridge head for the Glossop & District League before 1990 saw the club in some trouble after losing ten senior players. However, they recovered to win the Bardsley Trophy again the following year.

Club cap

That was pretty much it until the millennium when CH Ladybridge moved to the new Cheshire Pyramid system and the Cheshire Cricket League. 2001 saw them lose out in a “promotion game” though a runners-up spot the following season saw them promoted to Division 2 form the 3rd Division via the help of the club’s first overseas player. 2006 saw relegation back to the Division 3 suffered but 2015 saw the club return to Division 2 of the Cheshire League, current skipper Matt Bishop starring with 500 runs and 50 wickets in the year, the first Ladybridge player to achieve the feat. However they find themselves back in Division 3 for this season, having been relegated at the end of last season.

Luckily we were off for just ten minutes or so as the thunderstorm mostly skirted around the ground, leaving a dark, threatening backdrop to the aircraft on approach to Manchester directly over the club. However, it was to be the last meaningful rainfall we’d encounter during the game and we were back underway shortly. And we were underway with major fireworks!

Visitors Maritime, from out Merseyside way, were the unbeaten league leaders and, with all due respect to Ladybridge, everything pointed to an away win. However, during a period of a half-hour, Maritime found themselves six wickets down and with just eighteen runs on the board. “It’s always like this here!” came the call from ‘keeper/skipper/twitter guy Simon who’d come over to welcome me during the earlier stoppage! Anyway, here’s the entertainment in more detail!

Underway…

…but not for long!

After winning the toss and batting, some early boundaries meant Maritime looked in good stead prior to the rain delay. However, they fell apart afterwards. First, opener Alagiah Suthakaran fell for nought, nicking behind off Rick McGrail, before he was followed shortly afterwards by fellow opener Gayan (14), who saw an edge fly to second slip at some pace where a fine, diving catch by MacLennan saw him heading back, giving Matt Ward a first wicket of the day.

Once Pratham Shetty (4) saw his stumps disturbed by McGrail with one that looked to have kept a little low, the visitors looked in a little bother at 18-3. However, this was just the beginning as the leaders looked to have lost their heads during the next ten minutes or so.

First, an instant replay of Shetty’s dismissal saw Thisal Jayawardana head back first ball, becoming McGrail’s third scalp. Four became five moments later when Julian Morris fell LBW playing no shot, again without scoring, and the sixth man to go was Anton Jastin who played an almighty heave at his first ball, missed, and ultimately was castled. Both Ward and McGrail were now level on three wickets each, four ducks (two golden) had already been registered and Maritime were in some disarray.

Contrasting emotions

Seating

Death rattle about to sound

However, some normality was restored by the  seventh wicket partnership of #6 Kasun Ranasinghe and #8 Sahni Ajay. Both looked to be positive in the face of adversity, hitting a number of boundaries in a counter-attack to try and force their side up to a respectable total. However, upon reaching 52 and having added thirty-four runs, Ranasinghe fell, tamely chipping a shot up to square leg for 25.

Ward claimed a five-fer by dismissing Sellathurai Jeyakumar for a duck before adding the scalp of Prarajasingam Sathakaran for a single run, forcing him to nick off to ‘keeper Clarke, ending with figures of 6-48 from his ten overs. McGrail couldn’t add to his three early strikes, though he really ought to have, as he saw three late dropped catches off his bowling go down, including two in one over. However, he still ended up with economical figures of 3-26 from his 12.

The Maritime guys watch on

Match Action

Don’t hit it too high…

As it was, it was left up to first change bowler Nick Hodgson to end the innings, forcing Maritime’s #11 Murugesu Kulatheepan to get a thin edge through to Clarke who claimed his third victim of the innings and secured each bowler a wicket, Hodgson ending with 1-5 from eight deliveries. Ajay was left stranded on a, somewhat frantic, 30 as the leaders headed back to recoup and somehow figure out a way to defend an under-par 79.

After a quick chat with Dave, who watches Ladybridge’s matches for the first innings only before heading off and a visit to the bar for a pint of Marston’s fine 61 Deep Pale Ale for the decent price of £2.80, it was time for the players to head back out after their half-hour “tea” break. With drizzle still in the air and threatening to become something more substantial, CH Ladybridge came out and knocked off some runs early on, before opener James Howard (13) became the first to fall for the home side, playing across an Anton Jastin delivery.

Beer and Scottish Cup Final.

Facilities

He was quickly followed by #3 and skipper Matt Bishop (one) who became Jastin’s second victim, being defeated by a full one, before a terrible LBW decision did for Clarke. How the umpire couldn’t here the edge from 22 yards I don’t know (I could from out on the boundary), but up went the finger, Clarke (8) showed his understandable displeasure through the medium of waving his bat, but Sathakaran had his man and suddenly Ladybridge found themselves in a spot of bother.

This spot of bother became more of a dangerous area when Shaz Hussain played a big drive against the slingy, Malinga-like Sathakaran and saw his stumps parted. He was gone for two and suddenly Maritime were eyeing a victory from the jaws of defeat! A bit of a recovery was started by Stephen Robins and Jake Moore (9), but when the latter was dismissed by the returning Jastin after nailing a drive to short cover, Ladybridge were still 30+ runs away from the win.

Match Action

Match Action

On the block

However, a slow, watchful, partnership between Robins and MacLennan saw the pair take the sting out of the Maritime fightback and edge their side closer and closer…and closer to their target. It really was slow going with no risks taken and barely a shot in anger at times during their stay in the middle together. This point is really proven by the fact that “extras” was the innings’ high-scorer despite Ladybridge’s reply taking up 36.3 overs!

But you couldn’t blame them in the slightest for how they approached it and it was certainly effective. When MacLennan was eventually dismissed by spinner Suthakaran for nine, Maritime pretty much knew the game was up what with Ladybridge requiring just nine more to win. These were knocked off by Simon Martin (10*) who, along with Robins (15*) saw their side home in a tight, pulsating contest, which ended with a pair of fours by the former.

Sides head off after Ladybridge’s win

After a quick goodbye and congratulation to the pair pacing around the boundary during the latter stages, I made my exit to the bus stop outside and was soon carried back to Stockport and onwards home, delays on other services meaning an earlier arrival time! Keep up those delays guys! A good day was had once more (and again I’m just happy to have gotten in two full games with the weather that’s been around over the last couple of weeks) and next week sees a first foray of the season into the Cheshire County League. It’s in Sale again…!

 

RATINGS:

Game: 6

Ground: 5

Food: N/A

Beer: 8

Value For Money: 7