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On a cloudy and grey day at Morecambe CC, things were looking grim for Lancaster as they found themselves 8 for 5 early on chasing 111 for victory. But a superb lower order rally meant that Lancaster staged an astonishing fight back to take victory by 1 wicket.
After a delayed start, reducing the match to 46 overs per side, Lancaster won the toss and elected to field. The York openers, Fraser Crawford and Sam Illingworth, got off to a quick start, reaching 19-0 after 3 overs.
After an expensive first over, Marley Ali pulled it back by taking two wickets in his next. Crawford was given out LBW, something he did not look at all happy about as he walked off the pitch, and Joel Hughes was bowled for a golden duck. Tom Brandreth survived the hat-trick ball.
Illingworth was living dangerously and, having already been dropped, managed to nick Ali into the slip cordon, only to see Zac Godfrey-Plews take a sensational, one-handed catch at second slip. It reduced York to 43-3 and Ali had all three wickets.
York were reliant on Brandreth to steady the ship. He played well for his 47. York captain Andy Kirkwood was run out backing up by quick reaction fielding from Joe Wozniczka-Wells. The wicket triggered a York collapse as Wozniczka-Wells, thanks to good bowling and some poor umpiring, picked up 4 wickets for only 14 runs.
The ninth wicket pair of Rohit Maini and Thiyen Padiachey were proving difficult to remove and they took York’s score past 100. Marley Ali was brought back into the attack and he pegged back Padiachy’s off stump and then bowled Jack Bradshaw to leave York all out for 110 off only 34 overs. Ali finished with 5-26 and he had the honour of leading the players off the field for tea.
Lancaster’s run chase could not have got off to a worse start. They were reduced to 0-2 in the first over as Joel Hughes picked up the wickets of Godfrey-Plews and Tom Isherwood, both out LBW. Wickets continued to tumble as Jonny Millward was then bowled by Rob Gillespie. Millward was quickly followed by Joe Purvis, who was caught at gully, leaving Lancaster 4-4.
Peter Barnes, who scored 109 not out on his university debut, became Hughes’ third victim. He was bowled and a victory for Lancaster was looking impossible at 8-5. Bowling hero Marley Ali and James Lester combined to help Lancaster into double figures, but Ali became another victim of Hughes as he was bowled to leave Lancaster in serious trouble at 21-6.
It was going to take something incredibly special for Lancaster to win this match and it came in the form of a counterattacking partnership between the swash-buckling James Lester and the leg-sided flicks of Wozniczka-Wells. Jack Bradshaw came on to replace Hughes and his first over, which went for 17, helped to relieve some of the pressure on Lancaster’s lower order.
Lester and Wozniczka-Wells put on over 50 for the seventh wicket. In desperation for a breakthrough, Hughes was brought back on and he duly provided one as Lester, having been dropped a few balls earlier, mistimed another big shot and was caught by Maini at mid on. Hughes had five wickets and gave Lester a send-off, but his 28 would prove valuable to Lancaster’s low run chase. Captain Carl Purvis became Hughes’ sixth victim when he bowled and it meant that the opening bowler finished with the figures of 6-28.
With Lancaster creeping towards their 111 run target, thanks for Wozniczka-Wells’ presence at the crease, controversy reared its ugly head. In the context of the game, the wicket of Wozniczka-Wells was huge, but the way it came about infuriated the Lancaster camp. He was seemingly run out, but accusations came against the York wicketkeeper that he hadn’t broken the bails with the ball in his gloves.
Wozniczka-Wells was given out by the square leg umpire, but the contentious nature of his dismissal should not detract from the fact that his 41, added to his 4-14 in York’s innings, had put Lancaster right back into contention in the match.
With only one wicket left and Lancaster still needing around 10, it was up to the ‘face of the Roses’, Paul Startin, to attack the slow bowling of Maini. Startin smashed Maini for an enormous six into the back garden of one of the houses behind the ground and a wide meant that the scores were level.
Startin then late cut another Maini delivery and called Matt Weller through for the winning run, allowing the absolutely delighted Hawaiian shirt clad Lancaster contingent to run onto the pitch to celebrate with the team.
The York Captain expressed his disappointment in the batting performance of his side, whilst his Lancaster counterpart could not contain his joy. An astonishing comeback and a superb all-round performance from Joe Wozniczka-Wells made for a memorable match and meant that the four points went to the Red Rose.