Week 3 of the shortened season actually kicked off with a T20 friendly with Ramsbottom Traders on Friday night. As always the game was played in a lovely spirit and with a decent crowd in attendance enjoying the warm Friday evening sunshine. A mixed TSJ side ran out winners and there was plenty of entertainment and some powerful hitting for the spectators to enjoy.

The more serious business arrived on Saturday with the 1sts hosting a strong Brooksbottom side. Having won the toss the visitors got off to a flier, putting on 35 inside the first five overs with few alarms. However the loss of Hopton and Dom Gowers started a slump and with wickets for Smalley, Nathan and Nick Marsh Brooksbottoms plummeted to 84-9. A handy last wicket partnership elevated the score to 114 before the returning Ste Brooks finished off the innings. As with the first two fixtures the season, this was another really good bowling and fielding performance, especially given the hot weather mid-afternoon.

The batting has suffered some frailty this year and Saturday again saw this exposed. Within 3 overs the Totts reply had crumbled to 0-4, in somewhat "interesting" circumstances. Fuller, Smalley and skipper Ry Marsh attempted a fightback but nobody could really get to grips with the decent opening bowling attack of Qureshi and Iqbal, and the Totts innings ended at 67. Ry Marsh posted a fighting 28 as a sole high point, but we were never really in the game after the loss of key wickets early on.

Meanwhile the 2s had travelled to Astley and Tyldesley, and a good bowling effort restricted the home side to 124 all out. Matty Bradshaw, Awais, Kev and Gav shared the wickets, with Gav picking up 3-31. However the batting curse struck again, and with only 11 balls gone the Totts reply was in tatters at 2-3!! Tom dug in and, in conjunction with Gav, the innings got back on track. However the middle order then fell apart and when Tom went for a hard-fought 30, the score was 72-7. Daz Wood and Matty Bradshaw eased the score to 86 before the latter fell, and then came the game's defining partnership. Daz and Awais gradually got on top of the bowling and the runs ticked down. Both players launched sixes to bring the target closer, and finally Totts got over the line with Daz and Awais unbeaten on 26 and 22 respectively - an excellent win under great pressure.

So again plenty to work on for both Saturday sides, particularly in the batting department, but some promising signs for several players in difficult circumstances.

Sunday's 3rd XI game was at Edgworth, never an easy place to visit. Rowdy skippered the side in Parky's absence, but fell for a duck in the weekend TSJ opener tradition! Craig and George played useful knocks but the innings was held together by Ant Moore who registered a fighting half century, spending just over two hours at the crease before falling in the final over. The innings closed on 129-9 from the 40 available overs.

The home side's strength was soon revealed with S Bancroft hitting five boundaries in a run a ball 27; however it was Rob Bancroft who took the game away, blasting a unbeaten 68 from just 38 balls including three maximums and 10 further boundaries. The Totts bowlers had little answer and Edgworth reached their target in the fifteenth over.

Overall, another mixed weekend of social and serious cricket; plenty of positives again with the ball and the usual spirit within the teams, but the 1sts and 3rds in particular came up against some ruthless sides and found the going very tough at times. Plenty to work on for the coming weeks.

As always thanks so much to the hundreds of spectators, supporters, friends and family who turned out across all the venues this past weekend, and to the bar staff, groundsmen and club members who gave up their time and effort not just at the weekend but during the week to get the games on. Your efforts are appreciated as always. Thanks also to Brian who took another great set of photos during the 1sts game with Brooksbottom, linked below.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

Beryl Avenue, Tottington, Bury, BL8 3NF
Twitter: @TottyStJohnsCC