One of the Great Games

Anybody who had the good fortune to be at Stag Park on Sunday afternoon will have left having witnessed surely one of the best games of cricket ever to be played at the ground. A truly magnificent innings of 177 from Josh Tolley earned Norden a tie from a game that looked to be well out of their reach for the majority of the run-chase after the visitors, Walsden, had racked up an imposing 292 for 3 from their 50 overs. Tolley left the field to a standing ovation from spectators both outside and inside the clubhouse when he departed with just 3 balls left and 3 runs required. It was a record score for a Norden domestic amateur player and the 4th highest score ever by an amateur in the Lancashire League. His innings contained 19 fours and 7 sixes and took Norden to the brink of an unlikely victory, but as it appeared he had hit yet another six and finished the game, Cameron Hanson leapt on the cover boundary and took an excellent catch. Dean Lord then hit 2 from his first ball to tie the scores but a dot ball followed and when Lord pushed into the covers and ran from the final ball, the throw to the bowler’s end was just in time and Lord was short of his crease. There was debate about whether Walsden professional, Jomel Warrican, had the ball in his hand as the wicket was broken but the umpire believed Lord was out and the match was tied.

Walsden’s innings also saw a century for an amateur opener as Nick Barker amassed 119*, his 2nd successive league century. The fireworks were provided at the end of the innings by Joe Gale who struck 58* from just 29 balls as Norden’s seamers in particular were harshly dealt with. The 22 overs of seam bowled by the home side combined for 0 for 164 and this, coupled with some poor fielding, helped contribute to Walsden’s total. Ashar Zaidi was the only wicket-taker for Norden and he finished with a very respectable 3 for 51.

Hashum Malik fell early in the reply but a century stand between Tolley and Greg Butterworth kept Norden in the hunt. The run-rate was starting to creep up, however, and when Butterworth fell to Warrican it seemed like much would rest on Zaidi’s shoulders. He hit 40 from 33 balls when he clipped a leg-side delivery to Majid Khan on the square-leg boundary and Walsden thought they had the game won. There were still 102 runs required at that stage and just 12 overs to get them in, but Tolley was not done yet. Even though wickets began to fall around him, Norden’s opener took 18 runs from the 47th over and all of a sudden the Stags had a real chance. There were 10 from the 48th and 14 from the 49th but the dot ball from the final ball of that over kept Tolley off strike. However, Stephen Pimm hit the first ball of the final over for 6 over long-on and then pushed a single for Tolley to try and finish the job. That he couldn’t quite was clearly of huge disappointment as he trudged from the field but hopefully, once the dust has settled, he will take huge pride in one of the greatest innings ever played in Norden colours.
1st XI Scorecard:

Looking back on Friday night’s t20 game with Crompton, it seems implausible that it would not have provided the highest level of entertainment for the weekend. Crompton got off to the flyer of all flyers and raced along to 67 without loss from the first 3 overs. At that point it looked like Norden might be chasing something stratospheric, but Zaidi had his opposite number Mohammed Jamal caught by Spencer Allen on the deep midwicket boundary for a quickfire 48 off 16 and Dean Lord came into the attack and bowled a superb spell from the Woodhouse Lane end to change the course of the game. Crompton refused to adapt their approach throughout and, perhaps naively, continued losing wickets going for the big shots rather than pushing it around and cruising to a total of 200+ which seemed inevitable after such a fast start. As a result, they were bowled out for just 147 with 3 overs remaining and that proved to be decisive. Norden made hardish work of the run chase and a spectacular catch at deep square-leg from Harry Dean to dismiss Zaidi made things interesting, but Nick Brierley continued his return to form with an unbeaten half-century to see the Stags over the line and into an away quarter-final against local rivals Rochdale this Friday night.
T20 Scorecard:

The 2nds continued their good run of form with another 12 point win away to Walsden. Norden were in trouble at 50 for 5 but a good partnership between skipper Phil Docker (25) and Mohammad Omar (44) saw them up to respectability and a total of 175 all out. Mo Munawar then picked up 4 wickets and there were 3 for Usama Malik as Walsden could only reach 153 before being dismissed.
2nd XI Scorecard:

The 3rds suffered a rare defeat, going down to Lowerhouse 4th XI by 5 wickets. It was tough going for the Norden batters against some good spin bowling in particular and only Ahsan Tariq, Jimmy Drury and Joe Gordon managed to reach 20. Norden’s last 5 wickets fell for just 5 runs and their 161 felt well under-par. Will Hindley picked up a couple of early wickets but dropped catches and poor ground fielding let the home side down and Lowerhouse cruised home with over 10 overs to spare. Norden, though, remain top of the table.
3rd XI Scorecard: