After the agonising Worsley Cup semi-final defeat to Clitheroe a fortnight previously, Norden faced the Chatburn Road club once again in the league on Saturday and then again in the first semi-final of t20 finals day early on Sunday morning. Stag Park hosted the first of these two encounters and Clitheroe captain Peter Dibb opted to bat first on a track that looked like it had plenty of runs in it. Dom Humphreys was unfortunate that neither of the two outside edges he induced from opener Ali Ross early on went to hand, but after that it was hard-going for the home bowlers. Tom Lord played particularly aggressively and his half-century contained 4 sixes and 5 fours. He became the first wicket to fall when he miscued Dean Lord to point with the score on 98 and sub-pro Richard Levi joined Ross in taking the game to Norden. The pair added 87 in 15 overs with Ross looking in complete control and Levi punishing anything loose with his power. Ross looked a touch disappointed to be given out L.B.W. to Ashar Zaidi when a long way forward but his 77 had helped lay the perfect platform for what was to come. Jack Dewhurst more than played his part in a partnership of 101 with Levi, made in just 12 overs, but the paid man was now starting to make Stag Park look like a very small ground and he brought up his century from just 67 balls. There was no let-up even when Dewhurst was well-taken on the long-off boundary by Zaidi off Greg Butterworth, with a further 33 runs scored from the final 2 overs. The visitors closed on an imposing 320 for 3 with Levi unbeaten on 131 and this represented a record-score for Clitheroe in Lancashire League cricket. Hashum Malik and Josh Tolley soon made it clear that they believed it was not an insurmountable total and they once again got Norden off to an excellent start. Malik struck 3 sixes in his better than a run-a-ball 38 before the extra pace of Cole Hayman provided the breakthrough as the Norden skipper was bowled looking to give himself room to play through the off-side. The pitch was still playing truly and Butterworth and Tolley came together for a partnership that gave Norden real hope. At 190 for 1 with 20 overs remaining and Zaidi still to come, it would not have been unreasonable to consider the home side marginal favourites at that point, but Ross provided the over that turned the game back in Clitheroe’s favour when Butterworth chipped to mid-off from the 1st ball of the 32nd and from the final ball Tolley was caught behind from a ball that gripped slightly. Smart captaincy combined with tight bowling and fielding now started to make things difficult for Zaidi to keep the strike. With no set batsman at the other end, the Norden middle-order struggled to find the gaps to pick up singles and wickets started to fall regularly as frustration set in. 8 wickets were lost for the addition of just 42, 5 of them to Ross, with Zaidi watching helplessly from the non-striker’s end. When he finally managed to farm a period of strike, there was just 1 wicket to play with and despite a valiant effort of 57* it was not enough and Norden fell 44 runs short, picking up 1 point for their efforts. Zaidi faced just 33 balls of the Norden innings and The Stags were left wondering what might have been had that number been much higher.

Saturday Scorecard

Saturday Highlights 1st XI v Clitheroe Highlights

There was not much time for the disappointment of Saturday to subside as a 10am start at Crompton once again had Norden in the field first and a familiar foe in Levi striding to the crease to open the Clitheroe innings in the t20 semi-final. Unfortunately, it seemed like The Stags hadn’t fully woken up yet as dropped catches and misfields cost them in the early stages. Usama Malik picked up 2 wickets but Clitheroe had been allowed to get off to a fast start and Levi, after being given a life, was continuing his good work from the previous day and finding the boundary with regularity. When Zaidi had his professional counterpart trapped in front for 45 there was great relief amongst the Norden ranks and a potential score of around 200 now looked like it might be reduced to something more manageable. Zaidi, Butterworth and Mo Munawar bowled tidily but the mistakes in the field continued as the Clitheroe batsmen looked to put pressure on with aggressive running. Dibb took 15 from the first 4 balls of the penultimate over and that felt significant as it pushed Clitheroe over what looked to be a par score and it would be 180 to win for Norden. Malik went early this time but Zaidi looked to be taking out his frustration of Saturday and was quickly into his stride with 3 sixes to put Norden ahead of the rate. The key blow was dealt, though, when Zaidi had reached 42 and he skied a ball from Sam Halstead and was caught by the substitute fielder who had taken the field immediately after 50+ year-old bowler Marcus Sharp had finished his 4 over allocation. Norden were still in the game but much depended on Tolley and Butterworth. Unfortunately, Butterworth picked out the deep-midwicket fielder with a slog-sweep that came right out the middle of the bat with 58 still required and despite Tolley reaching his half-century and Lee Crabtree and Stephen Pimm briefly threatening to provide the necessary support, it was not to be and another Clitheroe victory was the outcome, this time by 15 runs. Darwen went on to lift the trophy after defeating hosts Crompton in the semi-final and Clitheroe in the final. A big thanks and congratulations should go to Crompton who did a magnificent job in hosting a thoroughly enjoyable day. T20 Scorecard

T20 Scorecard :

The 2nd XI made the long trip to Clitheroe and returned empty-handed after a 64- run defeat.  There were 4 wickets for Oli holt as the hosts posted 194 for 9, as well as a first 2nd XI wicket for 13-year-old Jamie Taylor. Norden looked to be in good shape to chase it down at 60 without loss but that quickly became 69 for 5 and despite a good effort from James O’Neill, they could not recover.

2nd XI Scorecard

The one highlight of the weekend was provided by a young 3rd XI on Sunday afternoon. Steve Colmer led the side for the first time against a Lowerhouse 4th XI made up entirely of juniors. It was the slightly more experienced pair of Colmer and Ahsan Tariq who scored the bulk of the Norden runs, Tariq making an excellent 85, and Jimmy Drury provided a flourish at the death to take Norden to 237 for 7 from their 40 overs. Lowerhouse never threatened to get close and a fine spell of off-spin from Charlie Gooding brought him a first senior 5 for. There were 4 junior bowlers used and Alfie Radcliffe picked up a wicket with Will Hindley also impressing with his first spell in senior cricket.

3rd XI Scorecard