Stags Start With the Perfect Weekend

Norden kicked off the 2022 season with wins for all 3 senior teams over a weekend that saw some familiar faces, and a couple of new ones, come to the fore.

The 1st XI faced Middleton at Stag Park and opted to bowl first but a familiar problem from last season soon returned as Keelan Shipley was allowed to get the visitors off to a flying start. Scott Butterworth struggled to find his length on his Norden debut but Usama Malik had more control and he picked up the wicket of Leighton Le Carpentier with a ball that nipped away off the seam. At 50 for 1 from just 9 overs, it looked like a good platform was being set and when Shipley chipped tamely to mid-on off Malik it brought visiting professional James Price to the crease and the key part of the game was on. Ashar Zaidi came into the attack and Price, along with former Stag Rehan Udwadia, pushed the score along to 90 before Price looked to turn Zaidi into the leg-side and was trapped LBW for 22. It felt like a crucial moment and although Middleton battled hard to get up to their eventual total of 174 all out, their chances of posting a really challenging total disappeared at the fall of Price’s wicket. Josh Tolley, filling in as the 2nd spinner in the absence of Greg Butterworth, picked up 4 of the remaining wickets and Zaidi claimed 4 of his own.

The same 2 players were also to the fore in Norden’s chase. Hashum Malik went early, bowled looking to hit Tom Rutter into the village, and that brought the welcome sight of Nick Brierley walking to the crease on his return to the side after a prolonged period of injury and illness. There were several glimpses of Brierley’s class in his 26 before he was yorked by Udwadia, and after that it was all too easy for the home side. Tolley and Zaidi were never troubled by a bowling attack that failed to offer control or a consistent threat and the margin of victory of 8 wickets with 20 overs to spare underlined the gulf in quality between the 2 sides on the day. Tolley finished with 79* and Zaidi 54*. Bigger challenges will come soon enough.

1st XI Scorecard:

The real excitement of the weekend came at Glebe Street where the 2nds won a low-scoring nail-biter against Crompton. Kafeel Ali took 4 for 24 on his first appearance in Norden colours as the home side were bowled out for just 115 and at 70 for 3 a routine win looked on the cards. Veteran John Punchard had other ideas, though, and he took 3 wickets, including that of Kabir Ahmed, another debutant, for a well-made 38. When Ross Collin and Ali fell in quick succession, Norden somehow found themselves 9 down with 21 still required. Fortunately, it was the 2 experienced heads of Phil Docker and Mo Munawar who were left and they got within sight of the win before Docker appeared to have holed out to long-on. Luckily the catch went down and Crompton were left to rue the missed opportunity.

2nd XI Scorecard:

It was the 3rd XI who kicked off the competitive season on Saturday with a home game against Ramsbottom. Two youthful sides produced a good game of cricket with the standout performance being a superb unbeaten century from Mohammed Omar as Norden posted 200 for 4 on a good early-season surface. Omar made 101* from just 86 balls and was well supported by Oliver Yates in a partnership of 81 that injected some impetus into Norden’s innings. Michael Thorpe added some lusty late blows and a solid bowling performance meant that Ramsbottom never threatened to get close. Yates, along with fellow teenagers Oliver Kirkby, Adam Khawaja, Muhammed Muddasser and Jo Golden, all made good contributions with the ball.  

3rd XI Scorecard: