Stags Cruise Home at Towncroft

The combination of beautiful weather, the customary fine batting surface at Middleton’s Towncroft ground and two outstanding batting professionals always suggested a high-scoring encounter on Saturday and that indeed proved to be the case. Middleton elected to take first use of the pitch and it was clear from the opening overs that it was going to be a tough afternoon for the bowlers. Spin, in the form of Jack Taylor and Ash Zaidi, was introduced early but the Middleton openers Keelan Shipley and George Walker moved the score past 50. Zaidi bowled Walker with the score on 67 to bring Middleton professional and the Lancashire League’s leading run-scorer for the season, James Price, to the crease and the home support knew that a big score from him would be required if the home side were to post a total that would challenge the title-chasing visitors. Shipley fell just short of his half-century and Rehan Udwadia joined Price to provide the big partnership the innings required. Price was the main aggressor whilst Udwadia looked to accumulate steadily and the partnership had reached 123 when Price picked out Greg Butterworth on the long-off boundary off Taylor for 79 as he was really looking to open his shoulders with 5 overs remaining. Udwadia completed his own half-century, finishing unbeaten on 60, and Middleton closed on 237 for 4. Hashum Malik and Josh Tolley had Norden well ahead of the rate early on and although both fell to Thomas Rutter in relatively quick succession, this only served to bring Zaidi to the crease and Norden’s paid man looked in superb touch from the outset. He and Butterworth added 64 in 13 overs before Butterworth was cleaned up by Price and the equation for the visitors looked a comfortable one as long as Zaidi remained, needing 110 with half the overs remaining. That wicket, just the 7th to fall in the day, proved to be the final one as Harvey Fitton rediscovered his early season form and the two left-handers required just another 15 overs to get Norden past their victory target. Zaidi’s run-a-ball knock of 95* contained 17 boundaries and Fitton’s 55* included eight 4s and a 6. Norden remain in 2nd place in the table, 4 points behind Walsden and with Darwen, Burnley and Clitheroe not far behind it looks like an exciting title-race in prospect.

1st XI Scorecard

The 2nd XI hosted long-time league leaders Haslingden in the glorious sunshine at Stag Park and having lost the toss it would have been easy for Phil Docker’s team to resign themselves to a long afternoon in the field. The opening overs quickly showed that that was not their intention as a fantastic start with the ball and in the field resulted in Haslingden quickly being reduced to 7 for 3. When Oli Holt took the big wicket of Leighton Friend, the visitors were languishing on 60 for 5 but they showed why they are strong contenders for the 2nd XI title with a determined lower order fightback. Wicket-keeper Leon Brennan led it with 32 and Haslingden were able to creep up to 163 before losing their final wicket in the last over. Holt finished with 3 for 36 and there were 3 more wickets for Mo Munawar to take his season’s tally past 40 in all competitions. Jack Harrison and Zeshan Anwar fell early in the reply but Docker and Spencer Allen rebuilt initially before kicking on. This was not this pair’s first big partnership of the season and they took the game away from Haslingden with a century stand. Allen made 53 to take his 2nd XI total past 300 for the season at an average of over 43, once again showing his remarkable temperament for a player of his age and Docker finished unbeaten on 75 to guide his side to a 7 wicket win. This was high-quality, hard-fought 2nd team cricket which ended with the great sight of both teams sharing a beer on the outfield at its conclusion.

2nd XI Scorecard

2nd XI Highlights 2nd XI vs Haslingden Highlights