13th - The 2012 season is still with us it seems as rain brought an early end to the rather mis-named ‘warm-up’ game against Egerton on Saturday. Right on cue, as predicted, the drizzle turned into heavy rain at around 3pm with two overs remaining in the Clifton Innings of 158-7. James Evans and Dean Morris went early, but not before Egerton stalwart Paul Stafford took a full blooded edge from Jimbo full in the right eye. Then Clifton’s frozen faithful got their first look at the antipodean duo of Cameron Murray and Lachie Mason and it was Lachie who impressed despite never probably having batted on a wicket quite so green as the April strip at Manchester Road. Cam Murray played some nice boundary shots but played an ugly sweep to a straight ball in Amal Dalugoda’s first over and was bowled. Lachie looked positive and peppered the boundary before falling to a mis-timed drive for 36. The patient teen Will Davidson (24) and Jim Ainscough (38) then took the score well beyond the 100 mark before the late middle order carved their way to what would have been an interesting challenge for the visitors, but, just as last year, the rain had the last word and the game was abandoned as the Saturday football got underway.
Walsden were the first visitors to Clifton on the opening day of the season after the club’s move into the CLL, so it was appropriate that they should return for the first Premier League clash of the new set-up. Sadly, the result was the same as it was in 2006 with Walsden batting first and winning by fifty odd runs. At least on this occasion, the side managed to reach the bonus point which could be important given the situation this season, but that was mainly thanks to Liam Dorsey and the batsmen who followed him after the first six batsmen registered just 39 between them. If just one of them had managed to stick around as Hampstead (57) did for Walsden, it would have been a different opening day for sure. Dors finished on 35 not out, but scraped past the 133 bonus point target with the petrifying figure of Matt Wright at the other end when there were still six needed. The innings closed on 140 after the champions had been restricted to 177 with Steve Cheetham taking 4-23 in 16 overs. Matt Wright also nicked four to add to his batting success and at tea we were possibly slight favourites. Walsden bowled well early doors, but it’s also fair to say that the top order did not cover themselves in glory either. The seconds didn’t even bowl a ball on the rain-swept Yorkshire borders. (above – Tommy smashed the first ball for 4, but that was ‘all she wrote’ as far as his knock was concerned. Below – Cam struggled hard against some lively seam bowling before finally chipping this effort to midwicket. Lachie hit a couple of nice boundaries including this one, but he won’t be happy with 12 on the day.)
20th - FIRING BLANKS
The top six batsmens’ aggregate total of less than sixty in twelve innings at a collective average of less than five provides the rocket science behind the first team’s dismal start to the season after a thumping at Rochdale on Sunday. The stat that isn’t to hand, is how many of those twelve dismissals were damn good balls and how many were as a result of inauspicious shots, but the fact remains that less than two weeks ago it was snowing and that winter still has a pretty firm grip on what we are trying to play cricket on. Therefore it isn’t rocket science to suggest that the bat that plays the glorious drives, cuts and pulls needs to stay in the bag for a while until the grafting bat has done its work. For the record tea wasn’t taken at 2-55 as most players still had remnants of breakfast in their gullets. Instead, Rochdale set about knocking off the 50 runs needed which they did for the loss of four wickets.
If anything, the second team’s defeat was even more exasperating. The rain meant that Rochdale’s 188 was reduced to a target of 133 in 23 overs. The chase was paced well throughout with a few blips along the way, but a three over blitz near the end meant that the scoring rate fell below six an over with five wickets in hand just at the right time and Rochdale’s players’ heads fell. However, inexplicably, the comfortable looking batting order suddenly did a palpable imitation of rabbits in headlights and it was left to Rico and Jack Unwin to battle through for a point at the end.
Geoff Griff paddles a full toss for four.
On Saturday and in bright sunshine, a severely weakened third team went down to bogey side Prestwich at Manchester Road. Dave Jennings’ debut as skipper wasn’t the easiest as a disappointing three cry offs in the first match of the season left him with the bare bones of a side, but a half century from vice-captain Tocher and thirties from Chris Royle and Andy Lord posted a decent enough 161. Despite an early wicket, the Prestwich batsmen weighed into the Clifton attack and despite two wickets for Rico and born-again off spinner Andy Lord, Prestwich emerged victors by four wickets with nine overs to spare.
HAPPY HOCKEY JOCKEYS
Clifton CRICKETERS reach National Hockey Finals !!
A Bolton Hockey Club side containing three Clifton Cricket Club juniors and managed by Chris Lord have reached the National finals of the England Hockey Under12’s competition.
Robert Lord, Sam Dorsey and Daniel Ainscough played leading roles in a Bolton team that won the Lancashire Championships on the 7th April. The team then travelled to Leeds to play against the best teams of the North.
They defeated two very strong Yorkshire sides and an Isle of Man team to reach the final but unfortunately lost in a close game to Bowden. But this still meant they had qualified for the national finals and will be representing the North at Cannock at the finals on the 11th of May.
This is an outstanding achievement for any team outside the Cheshire area and a first for a Bolton team to get to a national final.
27th - WEATHER BEATEN
The seconds beat the miserable and incessant drizzle to register a morale boosting win on Sunday, but the firsts had to give in to the sodden conditions with Littleborough on 39-1.
It was a solid team performance that restricted Royton to 120 with Will Davidson and Richard Borritt taking three wickets apiece and Rob Reade, Rob Meredith and late call-up Rico Phiri sharing the others. That total was reduced to 110 by a weather induced break in proceedings and the Clifton batsmen took full advantage of the Royton bowlers’ and fielders’ having to deal with a very slippery ball to register a comfortable seven wicket win with skipper Ian Morris reaching 50 one ball before the winning run was hit.
LEFT Moz cuts for four during his match winning innings.
RED HOT PHIRI PHIRI
Rico Phiri registered a best ever 4-15 at senior level as Saddleworth were brushed aside to give the club its first win of the season on Saturday. However it was a solid team performance that earned the points after Saddleworth won the toss and asked stand in skipper Andy Tocher to bat. The top order ground out a decent start, but it was only when Toch (62) and Geoff Griffiths (60) came together that the innings started to flourish. Once the pair had gone, the collapse that has been a feature of 3rd XI cricket did not materialise and the innings closed on a daunting 194-5. Rico opened up down the slope and he struck in true quick bowler fashion by rattling the timbers twice and getting two edges; one snaffled by stand in keeper Ollie Dunn and the other to a smart catch at slip by Nick “V.V.S.” Flaxman. However, again it was a good team effort which reduced the visitors to 60 all out with all four bowlers contributing to the wickets tally.
Griff rolls back the years with a big six
Toch clubs one for four to reach a second successive half century. 3rd XI batting prize sewn up already?