Stags up and Running

After a tough first few weeks of the season with poor weather and no wins from any senior team, Norden finally got their season going at the weekend with a couple of good cup wins and a tight victory for the 1st XI at home to Littleborough on Sunday.

Saturday saw Great Harwood make the trip to Stag Park in the Worsley Cup, with the fixture reversed in the Junior Cup. Overseas amateur Lukas Debnam took his first wickets for the club after Greg Butterworth had won his first toss of the season. The visitors then recovered through professional Thikshila De Silva and Matt Oddie to reach 79 for 2 before Usama Malik took the key wicket of De Silva and that triggered a collapse of 5 wickets for just 20 runs. Butterworth enjoyed himself from the bottom end and, despite some late order resistance from Jake Peake, he was too good for the second division outfit and finished with the impressive figures of 5 for 11 as Great Harwood were bowled out for 130 in the 40th over. The total didn’t appear to be one that should trouble this Norden side, but Ethan Houldsworth struck twice in his first over, and very nearly had a 3rd which could have made the game very interesting indeed. First, Alex Willis was trapped in front and Harris Hussain followed two balls later. This brought Ashar Zaidi to the crease, back at his favoured number 4 position, and he pushed outside off stump to his first ball and was dropped at second slip. That would have left Norden struggling on 5 for 3, but it turned out to be the last chance Great Harwood were to create as Zaidi and Josh Tolley consolidated and then showed their quality as they both made unbeaten half centuries as Norden cruised home with over 30 overs remaining.
Worsley Cup Scorecard:
Worsley Cup Highlights:

The seconds also recorded their first win of the year, but in a very different fashion. 97 for 3 became 147 all out for Phil Docker’s side as only David Bebb with 59 really coming to terms with a tough surface to bat on. The Stags were grateful for 35 extras donated by their hosts. It wasn’t until the score had reached 38 that Mo Waheed got Norden’s first breakthrough, but from that point Great Harwood were unable to put a partnership together and there were 2 wickets apiece for father and son Waheed, Bebb and the impressive Jamie Taylor. Oli Kirkby also chipped in with the key wicket of the home skipper, Miles Corish. The game was in the balance until the final over with Great Harwood requiring 7 runs with one wicket remaining. Mo Munawar was the man entrusted with the ball and his second delivery was pushed into the off side, where Spencer Allen picked up cleanly to run last man Marcus Hamer out at the bowler’s end. The celebrations on the field were matched back at Stag Park with a crowd gathered round the TV watching the YouTube stream.
Junior Cup Scorecard:

It was mixed fortunes in two tight games on Sunday, with the 1st XI narrowly fending off Littleborough by 17 runs but the seconds falling short of a small target by just 8 runs at Hare Hill.

Visiting skipper Clint Perren had no hesitation in asking Norden to bat first at Stag Park, but even he must have been surprised by how hard the pitch was to bat on early on. Inconsistent bounce and two-paced, it was a real challenge for Norden’s top order as Ryan Miskella and Lewis Willman bowled accurately. Willman’s first 8 overs contained 7 maidens and just one ball that went for runs. Tolley’s frustration got the better of him as he played an uncharacteristically poor stroke to pick out visiting professional Bryce Street at midwicket. Hussain and Willis quickly followed but Zaidi found some help from Greg Butterworth initially, and then Lee Crabtree. After Crabtree went for a well-made 27, another 2 quick wickets fell and Norden were in big trouble at 129 for 8. Zaidi, though, realised it was time to take charge and target the short boundary. He did this with a mixture of aggressive pickups and reverse sweeps, smartly making the short boundary his leg-side from both ends. Dean Lord and Jozef Gordon did well to get Zaidi on strike as much as possible and the last two wickets put on a crucial 54. Zaidi reached a superb century off 119 balls, one of his best knocks for Norden. Street took 4 for 45 for Littleborough, although it was Willman who really caught the eye with the ball. It was 184 to win for Littleborough and the chase provided plenty of excitement and a little controversy. Zak Perren looked very fortunate not to be given out LBW in the first over, but was then adjudged out in the same method a couple of overs later to one that didn’t look quite as straight. Tom Pye failed to run his bat in as Crabtree threw down the stumps and Norden were on top. Street played cautiously but solidly, and alongside Miskella and then Matty Hernon, he took the score up to 91 for 3. Hernon became Greg Butterworth’s first wicket as he chipped to Willis at cover and Clint Perren looked to get a rough one off the same bowler. Louis Russell looked like he might be the man to help Street get Littleborough home, but he was run out by a fantastic direct hit from the boundary from Harris Hussain and at that point it looked like the job was entirely on Street’s shoulders. He was unable to find the boundary with the same regularity as Zaidi had and the Littleborough lower order could not get him on strike quickly enough. Zaidi came back from the scoreboard end and made it very tough for anyone new to the crease. Despite Street’s best efforts in his 68, Littleborough fell short as Debnam bowled a very skilled penultimate over and Zaidi took 4 wickets to add to his century and finish an excellent all-round performance. This was a hugely improved performance in the field from Norden compared to previous seasons and they took a hard-fought 12 points from the match, with Littleborough picking up 6 bonus points. 1
1st XI Scorecard:

The seconds fell to a disappointing loss at Hare Hill after bowling Littleborough out for just 115. Usama Malik took 4 wickets and there were 2 for Mo Munawar as Norden’s seamers did the damage. The chase was looking like a pretty comfortable one at 70 for 3 with Hashum Malik going well. However, the wily experience of Phil Deakin proved to be decisive as he sent down 11 overs of left arm spin for just 10 runs, picking up 4 wickets in the process. Norden’s middle and lower orders struggled to find ways to score and a game that should have been won, resulted in defeat by 8 runs after being bowled out for 107 in the 43rd over. 7 bonus points were the small consolation.
2nd XI Scorecard: