Stags Dig Deep for Two Big Wins

Norden notched up 2 hard-fought victories over the weekend to rise to 2nd in the Lancashire League and progress to the 2nd round of the LCF Knockout trophy. There were times in both games, though, when it looked as if Hashum Malik’s men would be on the wrong end of the results.

Saturday’s league fixture against local rivals Rochdale looked slightly easier on paper once it was confirmed that the hosts had been unable to find a deputy professional for the fixture. The events of the Rochdale innings did nothing to alter that view as they could muster only 130 all out on a good Redbrook surface. James Maurice-Scott and Declan Wilkinson had taken Rochdale to a solid position at 94 for 1 but a wonderful spell of slow left arm bowling from Norden professional Ashar Zaidi quickly turned the tide and the Rochdale batters had no answer. Zaidi finished with 7 for 33, his best-ever figures in the Lancashire League,  and it left Norden feeling confident of victory at the interval. Whilst Rochdale may not have had a professional to call upon, they did have the experience and class of Steven Oddy and he had both Norden openers back in the shed in quick time. Greg Butterworth and Zaidi were left with the repair job and they did it well until Zaidi had a rush of blood to the head and holed out to long-off off Ali Muzaffer. Nick Brierley as run-out backing up at the non-striker’s end and the game was in the balance at 60 for 4. Butterworth became Oddy’s 3rd victim and Norden’s lower-middle order could offer no resistance as the veteran seamer looked like he might match Zaidi’s 7 wicket haul from earlier. When Scott Butterworth was the 9th man out with 34 still required, all seemed lost but the final wicket air of Sami Waheed and Usama Malik played positively and soon the runs required looked within reach. Malik scooped and paddled and Waheed played straight and confidently in a high-pressure situation. With 4 needed, Malik walked across his stumps and got enough bat on it to send the ball to the fine-leg boundary and the job was done. Oddy’s spell of 6 for 40 should have won the game for his side and despite taking the maximum 12 points, Norden know that they were fortunate to come away with the win.

1st XI vs Rochdale Scorecard:

Sunday saw the start of the 2022 LCF Knockout trophy with Norden hosting Heysham CC of the Westmorland League. For the 2nd successive day, Norden were in trouble with the bat as Josh Tolley stood and watched the other members of the top 6 fall in quick succession. The Stags were wobbling at 57 for 5 when Tolley finally found an able partner in Alex Willis. Willis’ start in Norden colours had been difficult up to this point but here he played with intent and intelligence in rotating the strike and defending solidly when required. Tolley himself had been dropped on 0 and he was in no mood to offer any more chances. The pair combined for a partnership of 114 which took Norden most of the way to their final total of 187. Tolley finally fell for 83 and Willis fell agonisingly one short of what would have been a richly deserved half-century when he seemed unfortunate to be given out L.B.W.

 In reply, Heysham got off to a flyer and raced to 50 without loss. As so often with this Norden side, though, things changed with the introduction of spin and Zaidi was soon back in the wickets. The run-rate required started to increase slowly and after a tight spell from Sami Waheed, Dean Lord reminded everyone of what a talented bowler he is and he picked up 3 wickets, including 2 in 2 balls. Greg Butterworth joined the party and finished with 4 for 24 as Heysham subsided to 123 all out. Tougher tests will soon follow in this competition.

1st XI vs Heysham Scorecard:

Highlights: 1st XI v Heysham LCF Knockout Round 1 Highlights

The 2nds got back on track with a good home performance against Rochdale. Kabir Ahmed made a superb 85 against his former side as Norden racked up 199 for 8 from their 45 overs. Zishan Zahid then took 2 early wickets and it was left to Harry Butterworth to fight a lone hand for Rochdale. He made 63 but when he was trapped in front by the excellent Oli Holt it was effectively game over. Kafeel Ali took 3 for 33 to add to his late cameo of 21 with the bat.

2nd XI Scorecard:

The 3rds rounded off a perfect weekend with a win of their own. Oli Kirkby again impressed, this time with the ball as he took 4 for 8 in Lowerhouse’s 136 all out. Saad Malik was the star of the show with the bat, finishing with an unbeaten 56 as Norden chased down the runs for the loss of just 3 wickets.

3rd XI Scorecard: