With Greenmount's ground unavailable, both sides were indebted to Bolton Cricket Club for hosting the 1sts XI's opening match of the season. Long time observers will have been aghast to see Totty's coordinated stretching and warm ups followed by fielding drills; previous years have seen players stumbling out of the pavilion with seconds to go before the game - not so in this new regime!

Watty won the toss and we chose to bat on what would actually prove a tricky wicket early on, though it noticeably flattened later. Despite some variable bounce, KC and Bret looked in no immediate trouble and took the score past 50 inside 15 overs. KC was badly missed off a caught and bowled, before holing out to mid on. Rick then departed for the two (not a duck, apparently), again attempting to loft the ball on a two paced pitch and paying the price. Doc came in and immediately cracked a couple of boundaries, but when Bret was caught at long on attempting to follow a big 6 with another and then new keeper Mark "Lord Lucan" Hague departed first ball, the scoring ground to a halt. With some tight bowling from Greenmount and a reluctance to rotate the strike, Bird and Doc were subdued. Doc hit across the line to Williams before Russ tried an audacious square cut and was bowled by the wily Singh. A limping Nick Marsh picked up the rate and Ryan Wilkes came in to strike a few big shots that pushed the score past 130. When two wickets fell in three balls, we'd posted 133 - early on that would have looked sub-par, but we were confident that experience and pressure would show.

Ry Wilkes opened up and immediately showed pace and hostility against the opening batsman, while Doc resumed opening bowling duties in a most unfamiliar way, with offspin! Such was the control and contrast the opening pair exhibited that when 25 overs came, the home side had only mustered 25-2, both wickets falling to Paul. Russ and Nick Marsh came on and continued to tighten the screw, with some excellent fielding keeping the young Greenmount batsmen almost unable to score. They did stand up to some pretty fierce chatter from Hague, Collins, Coe and company, and much credit to them for not buckling as the pressure grew.

The older heads finally decided enough was enough and pushed the rate along, but when Willets was out, three wickets fell for one run to leave the score at 68-6 with just 12 overs left. Doc returned and immediately dismissed Donnelly, but then Singh and Gareth Williams opened their shoulders. Doc was unlucky to see Singh dropped twice in one over before disappearing for two big boundaries, while Bret, Lucan and batsman Williams were having a right war of words at the other end amid a number of mighty swipes over midwicket. As the score crept past three figures the tension grew, but Bret and Doc kept their nerve and then a sensational piece of keeping from Lucan saw Hunter stumped off a rapid Wilkes delivery in the penultimate over. Crawford then managed to run himself out for a duck to see us home by 15 runs.

While the result was rarely in doubt until right at the death, credit to Singh and Williams for a late charge, and to all our bowlers for keeping their nerve. Doc ended with 3-25 from 14, while Bret also nabbed 3-29 off 6. Russ, Nick and Ry Wilkes took a wicket apiece and the fielders all did themselves proud, especially the evergreen Hayesy and Sam Parkinson, who was a last minute fill-in and ran his legs off on the huge surface. Summing up the new attitude and spirit, young Sam then made an impassioned speech in the dressing room which was fantastic to hear in a room of loud voices and big personalities!

Back at the Meadows, the 2s were up against the cosh. With three girls in the side and other new faces, this was a real mix of youth and experience, and unfortunately the batting simply didn't fire. Dasher and George Green dropped anchor after Danielle and the returning Mark Parky fell for ducks, but with just 37 on the board, half the side was gone. Si Marsh, unable to play for the 1sts because of the early start, then showed his class and looked untroubled in his passage to 38 not out from 51 balls, but with little support, the innings collapsed to just 86 all out, with Seeley picking up 6-34. It was going to take something special to pull off a win - Marcus and Katie Scofield started well, picking up two early wickets, but Shah and Brown scored quickly to take the game away from Totts. Marshy and fourth debutant Aussie Mick claimed late wickets, but Edenfield reached their target with more than half the overs remaining.

1sts v Greenmount scorecard

2nds v Edenfield scorecard

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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