A tiring 3-game weekend saw Norden win one and lose two, close the gap on league leaders Darwen, crash out of the LCF Knockout and have their t20 fate hanging in the balance.
Starting with Friday night, a heavily depleted Norden side hosted Rawtenstall and ill-discipline with the ball cost the home side the game. 13 wides and no-balls gave Rawtenstall 2 extra overs to face and the time taken to bowl those overs, along with additional time trying to find out the rule regarding substitute fielders when one of your players has turned up at the wrong ground, meant the visitors had an additional 18 runs added to their already very competitive total of 168. Ishaq Hussain, who was dropped early, made 55 off just 34 balls and Norden in the end did well to restrict the score that for most of the innings looked like it would be in excess of 180. The undoubted highlight for the home side was debut 1st XI wckets for Oliver Kirkby and Oliver Yates, two extremely talented youngsters who impressed everyone on the ground with their maturity and skill. Norden were always in the chase thanks to an outstanding 84 from Josh Tolley but when he fell Norden’s hopes went with him and the Stags are left probably needing to win both their remaining games against Greenmount and Crompton to qualify for the quarter-finals.
T20 Scorecard: https://norden.play-cricket.com/website/results/4999628
T20 Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fC5CmIfV1I
Saturday saw defending champions, Burnley come to town and Norden upped their game accordingly to record a fine win against a side who had held the wood over them since they joined the league. A bright opening stand for Burnley was ended when Zaidi got a generous looking LBW decision against Joe Marshall and Norden were then able to turn the screw. Burnley lost 8 wickets for just 61, including professional Ockert Erasmus who was cleaned up by a beauty from Scott Butterworth. A 9th wicket partnership of 54 between Bharat Tripathi and Harry Tomlinson got the champions up to respectability but 164 is rarely enough on Stag Park these days. The ever-reliable combination of Zaidi and Greg Butterworth combined for another 8 wickets. At one stage, tight bowling from the visitors looked like turning the chase into a more difficult one than first thought but the arrival of Zaidi made the difference and the impetus he provided immediately allowed Tolley to play anchor from the other end and their partnership of 108 got the Stags within spitting distance. Although Zaidi fell before the job was completely done, Tolley stayed firm and another 12 points were secured. Norden are now just 1 point behind leaders Darwen, with Clitheroe a further 2 points back. Those 3 teams have opened up a little gap over the rest of the pack.
Saturday Scorecard: https://norden.play-cricket.com/website/results/5000208
Saturday Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvZJNOs-zpM&t=13s
The real disappointment of the weekend came on Sunday when Norden were well beaten by Read in the 2nd round of the LCF Knockout Trophy. Read, playing without a professional, batted first and their innings never really looked like taking off until a late flurry, led by skipper Will Wrathall who made a superb unbeaten 93, took the total over 200. The final 2 overs added 40 runs and gave the home side all the momentum at the break. They carried this on and both Norden openers were dismissed inside the first 2 overs of the reply. Zaidi made a quick-fire 42 but when he edged behind off the bowling of Jack Wood, the hosts knew they had almost certainly delivered the killer blow. Oli Holt provided some middle-order resistance with an unbeaten 22 but unfortunately the truth is Norden are still very reliant on Zaidi and Tolley for their runs and this is something that will need to be addressed if trophies are to be secured at the end of the season.
LCF Knockout Scorecard: https://norden.play-cricket.com/website/results/5447634
The 2nds, missing a host of players and bowlers in particular, put up a good fight at Burnley before going down by 4 wickets. The Stags did well to recover from 66 for 6 with the bat; the returning pair of Zeshan Anwar and Greg Tattersall putting on 68 for the 7th wicket, but the eventual total of 144 was under-par and was always going to be difficult to defend with only 3 regular 2nd team bowlers in the side. There was more than a little hope, though, when Zishan Zahid removed both openers and a couple of run-outs meant Burnley were wobbling on 61 for 5. Unfortunately, skipper Phil Docker did not have many options up his sleeve and Burnley were able to take advantage, losing just one more wicket on their wa to victory.
2nd XI Scorecard: https://norden.play-cricket.com/website/results/5000303
Jimmy Drury’s 3rd XI go marching on after another win on Sunday against Rochdale’s 4th string sees them now top of the league. Mohammad Omar top-scored with 44 as Norden posted 140 for 9 from their 40 overs. This was followed up with 3 wickets for young leg-spinner Jake Hill and good spells from Yates, Hindley, Findlow and Gooding saw the Stags home by just 9 runs.
3rd XI Scorecard: https://norden.play-cricket.com/website/results/5000094