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The lowest scoring cricket games are more often than not some of the closest and most thrilling, and Thursday’s encounter between the Lancaster seconds and the York seconds was no exception. Scores of 96 and 80 point to a game that was always in the balance, and yet, throughout the game each team had chances to really kill the game off.
Like many cricket games in the North West, the weather threatened to prevent any sort of contest, but thankfully the Lancaster rain stayed away, although the match was reduced to 40 overs per side. Lancaster captain Michael ‘Big Sac’ Gladstone won the toss on what many spectators simply referred to as a ‘pudding’ of a pitch, and chose to take first guard on the wicket. Club chairman George Potter and fresher James Collinge were the opening batters and we had ourselves the first cricket match of Roses 2014.
Lancaster would have been hoping for a solid start, but York’s opening bowlers had other ideas. First Collinge went for a duck to a ball that many in the ground thought had hit the ground as he hit it, before number three Sam Walsh nicked behind to leave Lancaster reeling. In came the skipper Gladstone, hoping to anchor the innings and alleviate some pressure, however he was soon trundling back to the pavilion, the ball catching the leading edge of the bat; Lancaster were 13-3. Potter and new man Cleaves then battled hard on a pitch which really was a nightmare for batters – their partnership of 20 was the second highest of the Lancaster innings and it would prove pivotal come the end of the match. Cleaves was then trapped in front of his pads and Hammond came and went without troubling the scorers too much, which brought another fresher in the form of Ben Finch to the crease. Finch was the only Lancaster batter who seemed undaunted by the nature of the pitch, and his innings of 30 not out boosted Lancaster up to 96-9 off their 40 overs. While Finch took the limelight, special mentions must go to Potter and Caswell. Potter’s 13 off 75 was not attractive or flashy, but those 75 balls he faced meant that York were unable to create a breakthrough from both ends, and instead were halted from really ripping through the Lancaster team. And Ollie Caswell – Lancaster’s number 11, batted valiantly for his 10 not out, putting on 24 with Finch, meaning that Lancaster used their overs up and really ground out the best score they could. Booth and Gillespie were the pick of the York bowlers.
Talk at tea was that Lancaster were 30 runs short of par and early breakthroughs were needed. So when McDonald edged Ijaz to Gladstone at gully, Lancaster saw an opportunity. Ijaz struck again in his next over, before Gladstone made the bold decision to bring Caswell off after just two overs, and bring on Raunak Guhathakura. The move was a bold one – but it worked. Raunak tore through the York line up, finishing with figures of 4-16 and leaving York wondering how they were 23-6. Gillespie and Turner put on 43 for the seventh wicket, the highest partnership of the game so far, and with Ijaz bowled out, Gladstone needed to look elsewhere for the breakthrough. Thankfully Hammond and Lancefield provided the finish that Lancaster needed, Lancefield picking up three of the last four wickets to fall – to leave York 14 runs short as they were bowled out for 80.
After the match Gladstone was quick to emphasise that every player in the team contributed in a key way, whether it was a catch, wicket or suggestion tactically to him, and how proud he was to win the first points for the second team at a Roses since 2008. Even though Finch and Raunak were the stand out performers in either innings for Lancaster, the performance really was a terrific team effort, and the victory leaves the team in fantastic stead for their BUCS season, which starts next Wednesday.