1STS MARCH ON BUT 2NDS LOSE UNBEATEN STREAK

Another weekend, another thumping victory for the first XI, who maintained their unbeaten record in 2022. On a balmy day at the Meadows, Totts batted first and despite the early loss of skipper Fuller, marched to 83 without further alarm thanks to good contributions from Matty Hall (48) and JB (45). Having lost Matty and Ruffers within the same over, Burnsy arrived and put together the defining contribution of the innings. His 78 from 77 balls included four hefty sixes and put Totts firmly in the driving seat. Late cameos from Nick and Callum took the total to an imposing 253, with a hefty 40 extras bolstering the score.

Given the impressive nature of our bowling attack to date, this was always going to be a tricky run chase for Radcliffe. Burns struck with the second ball of the innings and last week's nine wicket hero Lenny then removed the other opener in his first over to leave the visitors teetering. A brief recovery was led by Lockett and Mazhar, but once the third wicket fell at 52, the innings then capitulated. The last 8 wickets fell for 40 with Lenny again bagging a five-for; Niko chipped in with 2-8 and there were a couple of run outs. The firsts remain undefeated and sit proudly atop the division for another week.

Over at Edenfield, Kieran won the toss and elected to bat, despite the pitch looking a touch green. It may well have proved a bad toss to win given the way the pitch would later flatten out, but given the warm conditions it seemed the right thing to do. Unfortunately the skipper then fell to the first ball of the innings, recording the first golden duck of his career ... Doc P got off to a quick start and despite losing Bret to a shooter, the innings progressed without many alarms to 98-2 with Watty and the Doc looking in control. Paul completed his half century with back to back boundaries before smacking a ball he could have put anywhere in northern Lancashire right to the fielder on the edge. Still, all was looking promising with 200 seemingly well within reach. Alas a familiar TSJ collapse then occurred. Watty departed for 36 and Russ got to 20 but with several other players getting going and getting out, with perhaps one or two slightly iffy LBWs along the way, the innings collapsed to 152 all out. An amusing sidenote was the sight of "Pumas" displaying cat-like agility in the outfield.

Still, this is a team with plenty of bowling depth, so we were confident we could prevail. Alas it just didn't happen this week. Marshy and Bradders kept things tight initially but a flurry of boundaries from Tasker and Brown saw the score pass 50 without much alarm. Paul and Russ came on but runs continued to flow before a series of costly mishaps occurred. Hayesy put down Brown and then there were a number of balls dropped just in front of or just to the side of despairing fielders. There was also a confrontational moment when Brown appeared to edge the ball and was walking off before realising the umpire hadn't raised his finger. Tempers were starting to flare, but the openers continued to press on and the score had reached 117 before Brown finally holed out to Proopsy to give Paul a wicket. The number three batsman who had sat padded up for 26 overs then fell second ball to the Doc and all of a sudden it was a different game.

Hayesy and the Doc continued to create half chances and Clive took a neat stumping to remove Omar. Paul then thought he'd trapped another batter twice in successive balls only to watch in disbelief as the umpire turned down both appeals. The innings concluded with Tasker making a well-struck 90 not out, and we trooped off in some shock after a decidedly rude awakening. Plenty of positives, but we looked to be 50 runs short and lacked some luck in the field with plenty of half chances not quite falling to hand. Kudos to Marshy in particular who threw himself about in a losing effort. Hopefully it's the kick up the backside we needed.

On Sunday the thirds put in a much improved batting performance but were just unable to overcome Thornham. Katie's crew fielded first and couldn't make early inroads. However a clutch of wickets brought TSJ into the game. Katie took 3-36 and Nick T captured four as the visitors managed a total of 166. At 105-7 Totts had the chance to keep the Thornham line up well in control but a late cameo from Fitzpatrick (37 from 25 balls) elevated the total significantly.

The 3rds have struggled to put together partnerships this year, so it was refreshing to see Donny and Johnno get the innings off to a solid start, erasing 41 from the target before the first wicket. Raahil came in and looked in control, and the score had reached 95 before he fell. With just 70 left for victory, the innings went off the rails before Katie, Tatts and Nick inched us to 141-7. Unfortunately overs were rapidly running out and the need to press on saw the last three wickets fall quickly to end the reply at 144.

So a mixed bag, with another huge win for the all-conquering firsts, and some good individual performances elsewhere. However a couple of fundamental issues for the 2s were shown up which have perhaps been masked by the incredible efforts of the early weeks. A need to build partnerships is absolutely crucial, as well as not giving it away when in control. The thirds looked much improved with the bat but again need to work on adding runs under pressure. Still, we move on and attention turns to another big (and potentially very warm) weekend ahead with all three teams again in action. The firsts travel to Darcy Lever, while there are home games for the 2nds and 3rds against Thornham and Edgworth, respectively.

The usual thanks go to friends, family, helpers and spectators at all the games - it was lovely to see some friendly faces at Edenfield, and thanks as ever to those working on the ground and bar throughout the weekend; it's always appreciated.

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