League and Cup Wins for Norden

Norden enjoyed an excellent weekend, with wins over local rivals Rochdale in the league and Ormskirk in the LCF Knockout.

Saturday saw Stag Park host the first derby of the season as previously unbeaten Rochdale made the short trip. A beautiful day and a flat looking surface made Greg Butterworth’s decision to bowl first more difficult than it usually is at this ground, but brother Scott took the early wicket of Rochdale professional Henry Hunt, caught at point failing to fully commit to a cut shot. Zimmy Khan, newly arrived at the ground having had his shopping trip interrupted when told the game was on Saturday not Sunday, joined Ali Muzaffar and Muzaffar in particular began to take the attack to the Norden bowlers. The 4-pronged home bowling attack was starting to look a little threadbare as the experienced Rochdale pair combined effectively. Khan was measured and Muzaffar aggressive, as he looked to clear the front leg and find the short Stag Park boundaries. Butterworth was struggling for options as the partnership crept up towards 150 and he turned to Oli Holt, which proved to be an inspired decision. In his third over, the medium pacer removed both set batters and completely changed the course of the game. First Khan was bowled through the gate, and then Muzaffar, rather than consolidating after the loss of a wicket, tried to clear long-on but could only find the safe hands of Lukas Debnam. All of a sudden, from threatening a total of up around 300, Rochdale had to set their sights lower and rebuild. Andy Dawson, dropped on 7 by Josh Tolley at cover, played nicely for a run-a-ball 40, but until a couple of late boundaries from Jack Duffy, the rest of Rochdale’s middle order were unable to play as fluently. Scott Butterworth took a couple of wickets late on to finish with three, and Rochdale closed on 247 for 6, perhaps a shade over par but certainly less than where they had threatened to be at half way.

Norden’s recent struggles at the top of the order were not to be repeated as Josh Tolley and Alex Willis put on 62 for the opening wicket. Steve Oddy was his usual accurate self, though, and the run rate was starting to creep up when Willis was trapped in front by Khan. Ashar Zaidi was moved up to number three and he and Tolley began to set the foundations for yet another big partnership between Norden’s two main men. Like Norden, Rochdale looked a bowler short, but their change bowlers failed to have the impact Holt had done earlier and the batters were able to target Jacob Pauline, Hunt and Muzaffar, whose combined 12.2 overs went for 105 runs. Tolley backed up his century from last week with another here, surviving one scare as Michael Harling dropped a straightforward chance at mid-on when the game may still have been in the balance, and Zaidi put his foot down to race to an unbeaten 91 off just 72 balls. The partnership finished unbroken on 186 and Norden took 10 points, with the 9 wicket margin of victory failing to tell the full story of an excellent game.

1st XI Scorecard: https://norden.play-cricket.com/website/results/5592465
1st XI Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0ohDd2b–s

Norden were definite underdogs when they took the long trip to Ormskirk on Sunday afternoon in the 1st round of the LCF Knockout. The hosts were losing finalists last year and knocked Norden out of this competition in 2021. Ormskirk won the toss and elected to bat, but Norden have a different look to their new-ball attack this year and the fast starts offered to opponents so often last season, are much harder to come by this. Scott Butterworth has bowled with good rhythm from the first game and Lukas Debnam has provided excellent support, with his just rewards in the wicket column surely not too far away. Butterworth again got the first breakthrough by removing the dangerous Alex Rankin. Missing Oli Holt from Saturday’s team, Josh Tolley was the Stags 5th bowler and Greg Butterworth introduced him early to good effect. He dismissed George Politis and Calum Turner either side of Zaidi cleaning up Lancashire wicket-keeper George Lavelle. 42 without loss had become 58 for 4 and Norden were in charge of the game. This never really changed from that point as wickets comtinued to fall. Butterworth, Tolley and Zaidi all finished with 3 as Ormskirk limped to 104 all out.

Early wickets were needed if Ormskirk were to stand a chance, but they didn’t materealise as Tolley and Willis again got off to a solid start. Both fell with the score in the 40’s but Zaidi and Haris Hussain made sure there was no real wobble. Hussain has struggled at the start of his Norden career, but he showed flashes of his undoubted ability here against a strong attack, hitting 3 fours and a six in his 20. Norden reached their target inside 20 overs for an unexpectedly comfortable win and a place in round 2 away to Morecambe on the 11th of June.
LCF Knockout Scorecard: https://norden.play-cricket.com/website/results/5572282

Victory for the 2nds at Redbrook meant it was a perfect weekend for Norden. Mo Waheed took 5 wickets as Rochdale were bowled out for 139 and Hashum Malik was at his destructive best, hitting 68 as Norden chased the runs down easily for the loss of just 3 wickets.
2nd XI Scorecard: https://norden.play-cricket.com/website/results/5593265