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It is often said in sport that the line between winning and losing is a fine one. This was proved correct in a gripping, tense and compelling encounter at Lancaster Cricket Club, where either York or Lancaster could have feasibly taken victory. Sadly for the majority of the spectators gathered, York were left to celebrate whereas Lancaster were left to rue what might have been.
The day started off in a confusing manner – with a scheduled start of 10AM, at 9:45 York were nowhere to be seen. After they arrived at 10:30, Lancaster Captain Adam Senn claimed the toss and inserted York in to bat, in a reduced match of 40 overs per side. Lancaster started excellently, with Zimmer and Dyson bowling well in tandem to keep scoring down to a minimum. The breakthrough came in the 8th over – the consistently excellent Zimmer trapped Rabet in front for LBW. York then focused on slowly building a base to the innings, sacrificing runs in order to keep wickets in hand.
Opening batsman Asken and number 3 Collins were accumulating slowly, when, not for the last time in the game, a comical run-out occurred. After a collision between the batsmen in the middle of the pitch, Molloy whipped off the bails and Asken was gone for 21 – suddenly Lancaster were buoyant. Wickets quickly followed – Collins was bowled by Senn and after, superb fielding by Zimmer, Weston was run out. The pressure of the excellent spin provided by Basheer and Senn was causing York problems that they had not experienced against the pace of Dyson and Zimmer. Soon after, Basheer bowled Marsh when he was attempting an agricultural hack across the line. This made it 55-5 off 25 overs and Lancaster were, at this stage, on top.
Entering the final 10 overs, York were 71-5 and faced an uphill battle to post a competitive total. However, some punchy hitting from number 7 Waghorne began to propel them towards three-figures – Shdava in particular taking punishment from his effective slogging. However, the spinners once again reined in York’s progress, with Ingham supporting the attack to great effect through a combination of consistently accurate bowling and superb fielding. After some decent running from the York tail-enders, they were bowled out for 110, with Ingham the pick of the bowlers, posting figures of 3-18. In truth, Lancaster bowled very well as a unit, and would have felt that 111 was a gettable total, even on a spinning wicket.
The reply started in a positive fashion – after losing Purvis early, Lancaster stood up admirably in the face of hostile fast bowling from the Yorkist duo of Bradshaw and Cox. After a particularly fiery over including a glorious straight drive for 4 and a dropped catch, Cox castled Simon Taylor to leave Lancaster at 24-2. Number four Marley Ali then joined Zimmer at the crease, and proceeded to score at an excellent rate, striking a beautiful drive that drew applause from around the ground. After scoring a quick-fire 10, however, York had the dangerman – Ollie Marsh drew Ali forward, before spinning the ball back into him and clean bowling him. This made it 36-3, and Lancaster were suddenly in need of a rebuild.
The captain Senn arrived at the crease, and along with Zimmer attempted to negate the danger posed by the excellent spin of Marsh and York captain Miller. Senn then took matters into his own hands – after nonchalantly flicking a ball into the leg side for 2, he struck a stunning drive for 4 down the ground. This left Lancaster at 47-3 off 16, and ahead of the required rate at this stage. Zimmer continued to play sensibly, taking the singles, but putting away the bad balls, in particular one rank long-hop from Marsh which was smashed high over the long-off boundary for 6.
Lancaster appeared to be cruising to victory, but, as is so crucial in games of this nature, York’s captain Miller produced a moment of magic to bowl his opposite number Senn for 18. Soon after, Zimmer followed his captain back to the pavilion, having been dismissed off an outstanding caught and bowled from Marsh. This left Lancaster at 76-5 and, suddenly, York were firmly back in the game. With just 34 needed, Marsh again picked up a wicket, this time wicketkeeper Molloy failed to read the spin and was bowled.
Shdava and Gittens then attempted to nudge their way towards the target, and were making steady progress, when Shdava attempted a daft shot into the offside and was caught at point, sparking jubilant celebrations. At this point, Lancaster required 21 from 9 overs with just 3 wickets left – York were on top. Gittens attempted to protect the strike, but it was too much to ask, and with 20 needed, he fell to the excellent fast bowler Cox. This brought the tail ender Ingham in to bat along with Dyson, and, despite riding their luck, the target seemed to be in reach. However, the game once again had another dramatic twist, with Ingham holing out to long-on. Basheer came in at number 11 to attempt to score the 15 more runs required.
Some classic tail-end batting ensued, with edges just bypassing hands and singles being scrambled at every opportunity. Somehow, Dyson and Basheer managed to take it to the final over, with 7 required for the most dramatic of victories. In the end, though, it was just not meant to be: after confusion in the running, Basheer was run out and York had squeezed home by 3 runs. Credit must be given to the superb performances of Miller and Marsh with the ball, both of them picking up 3 wickets.
Captain Senn admitted after the game that he would have expected Lancaster to win the game from the position that they were in at the half-way stage, whilst Marley Ali said that the team was very disappointed to fall just short but felt proud of their efforts. York man of the match Ollie Walsh confirmed that York were always confident in their ability to defend 110 and were delighted with the win.