After three weeks of batting struggles, the latest round of GMCL matches finally saw some positive strides, with the senior sides putting together decent totals and giving a good account across both days.

The firsts had a thoroughly enjoyable visit to neighbouring giants Heywood and their terrific facility. Having FINALLY won the toss for the first time as skipper, Ryan elected to bat on what looked to be a pretty good wicket. After last week's calamitous opening collapse, there was some relief in the ranks as Tom and the Doc got us off to a steady start. With few dangers in the pitch, runs were still tricky to come by thanks to persistent low bounce, but the pair grew into their work and put on 52 before the Doc lost his wicket attempting to hit the pro out of the ground. This brought Smalley to the crease and he and Tom put on a terrific partnership of over 80; the innings started to gain some momentum despite good spells from Heywood's spinners, who included ex-Totty Ladies player Olivia Thomas. A late flurry of wickets restricted the score to a creditable 151, with a maiden first team fifty for Tom, who showed some excellent concentration in his innings, plus a useful 45 from Smalls.

The target was possibly 20 runs light, but the Totts bowlers stuck to their work in terrific fashion - the opening pair of Smalley and Nathan kept it really tight, with just 30 runs coming from the first 12 overs. A sanitisation break finally brought a wicket, and after Smalls had bowled through his ten overs, it was the turn of Ste Brooks and Ry Marsh to keep things in check. With 12 overs to go the home side had whittled down the target to around 60, but it was the entrance of pro Ullah and Bobby Cross that provided the experience and class to make the difference. Both opened their shoulders as the target ticked down, and despite a couple of close LBW shouts from Nick Marsh, the pair took the game away with some big hitting. Despite a narrow loss, the 1sts can take heart from a fighting bowling and fielding performance that took a classy side to within 23 balls of defeat, and a much improved batting display.

Thanks to Heywood for playing the game in a terrific spirit, for excellent hospitality and a warm welcome, and to their enthusiastic spectators (including footballing legend David Cross and England's own Kate Cross) for their sportsmanship throughout. We look forward to your return visit.

Back at the Meadows, the 2s had a free GMCL weekend and so had arranged a friendly with the Rammy Traders (including guest appearances from several TSJ players!). Hopefully someone will be able to provide a round up of the key action!

On Sunday the 3rds faced a trip up the lines to Greenmount, who put out a strong side. The home side batted first and got off to an absolute flier, with the opening pair of Stevens and Schofield putting on 171 inside 22 overs. Schofield continued on his merry way and hit 12 sixes in a massive innings of 175 from just 120 balls. Aside from these two, the Totts bowlers did restrict the other batsmen well, with Katie Schofield the pick, ending with 2-34 from 8 overs amidst the carnage. The home side closed on a mammoth 290-5 from their 40 overs.

The Totts reply was always going to hinge on a couple of key players, and Bret stepped up to produce an innings to rival that of the Greenmount opening pair - an opening stand of 52 with Rowdy was the platform for our own big hitter to launch into the bowling, with 7 sixes and thirteen other boundaries coming as he registered the first century for TSJ this season. When he finally fell for 110, it was left to Mark Parky and the rest to try and get as close to the Greenmount score as possible. A final total of 214-7 was a very creditable effort against a tough side.

So once again plenty of positives to take forward from the weekend, with the improved batting, excellent team spirit and continued good standards in the field very much to the fore for the firsts. All our sides will be in action again next weekend, keep an eye on social media for details!

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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Twitter: @TottyStJohnsCC