2NDS IN GREAT RUN CHASE WHILE 1STS PROGRESS IN CUP

Another extended weekend, another clutch of games to report on. There were mixed fortunes in the various cup competitions, a superb run chase for the 2nds and some top individual performances once again.

Let's take it back to Thursday and a rare trip to our near neighbours (and Premier League outfit) Walshaw for a T20 encounter. The home side batted first and - thanks to a devastating innings of 90 from Bhojani - posted an impressive 162-5 in their allotted overs. Niko was the pick of the Totts bowlers, conceding just nine runs from his overs, while Matty Hall picked up a couple of wickets. In response, the Totts lads gave it a really gallant effort, with Niko, Matty, JB and Burns all getting good starts and hitting eight sixes between them, Ultimately the TSJ side fell just five runs short against a powerful top level side.

Back to Saturday and a somewhat chilly and blustery day. Down at the Meadows Burnsy was once again continuing his excellent all round form. Having won the toss visitors United Stars elected to bat and were soon in trouble thanks to a first over run out. Yasir and Tufail carried the score to 68 before a cluster of wickets fell. A middle order rebuild saw the visitors reach 144-5 before Burnsy and Niko swept in to clear out the late order. The pro ended with another five wicket haul to add to his season's total, while the Kiwi spinner picked up 3-21.

With Bret and Matty once again hitting early boundaries, the Totts reply got off to a rapid start. However when both openers departed, to be followed by JB first ball, the reply was teetering. Pro and Fuller steadied the innings and at 118-4 all looked on course for another maximum points haul. Burnsy reached his half century before falling to a somewhat curious LBW (seems to be a running theme this season!) and the United Stars bowlers put the pressure on, dismissing the Totts rearguard and leaving us an agonising four runs short of victory.

Over at Bolton Indians, Kieran won the toss and inserted the home side on a slightly damp wicket. The match got off to an odd start thanks to the distant sound of gunfire (probably fireworks!) for 15 minutes plus intermittent rain which had us dashing on and off like the final moments of a Benny Hill episode (one for the kids there). D Patel and A Patel (cricketers, not a law firm) took the score to 64-1 before Awais began a highly effective spell to keep the score in check. Nick T also came on and bowled really impressively, before a cameo from K Patel briefly threatened to take the game into unreachable territory. Some impressive hitting saw Awais' final over despatched for a considerable amount to slightly spoil his figures - 3-44 was very creditable though considering the late onslaught. Doc P came on for the final overs and thanks to two quite astonishing catches from Nick and Proopsy and a calamitous run out, the innings was polished off for a pretty decent 178 - with C Patel, N Patel and R Patel departing at the end. A shout to Ry Marsh who did a highly impressive job behind the stumps, bringing lots of energy and an occasional choice word or two.

There was just time at the interval for our hero Bradders to drive halfway across Bolton to pick up a McDonalds. He wouldn't tell us what he'd had (other than "er, food") but one can only imagine his Happy Meal (TM) came with an all-action figure of Jackie Chan.

With KC struggling, Tom and the Doc opened the innings. Paul was gifted a beamer second ball which he pasted into the pavilion and from then on the openers looked in control. The Doc did much of the early scoring as the pair passed the half century mark, while Tom suddenly sprang to life and took 14 off one over to astonish everyone! He departed for 20 to a quite ludicrous leg before decision (hmmm!) to end an opening stand of 76. Paul passed his half century before falling on 58 to yet another controversial LBW (there we go again). With Ryan dismissed soon after the innings was in the balance at 98-3. Enter Sam Collins and Russ Brooks. Both players were late additions to the side following cry offs and both showed why they fully deserved their place. After a cautious start, Sam launched a huge six to get himself going and from then on the pair put the bowlers back to the sword with a mix of measured hitting and some very good scampering about. The fielding gradually became more ragged with a couple of half chances missed and one poor lad managing to get hit in the face at least three times from what appeared to be routine stops at fine leg. Sam brought up his first half century with another great stroke and the pair took us to a highly impressive 7 wicket win with four overs to spare. An excellent team effort and run chase on a tricky wicket.

On Sunday the 1sts were back in action hoping to continue their cup heroics. Visitors Adlington got off to a terrible start, collapsing to 20-5 in the face of some hostility from Burnsy. Shovelton and Pacey brought a little respectability to the score with each passing 40 before falling. The innings ended at 136, with the pro recording remarkable figures of 6-16 for the second cup round in succession, and once again picking up a superb 11 wicket haul across the two days. Callum and the returning Matt Smalley also chipped in with tight bowling at the end.

A heavy shower saw approximately 40 minutes shaved off proceedings, and left Totts with an adjusted target of 126 to win. Niko decided he was going to end matters early, getting off to a rapid start and smashing nine boundaries to reach his half century in just 29 balls. JB and Matty Hall took up the mantle and the boundaries continued to flow. JB departed for a quickfire 20 before Burns joined Matty and took us to victory by 8 wickets inside 18 overs at a scoring rate in excess of 7 runs per over. An impressive effort and on to the next round!

The 3rds were also in friendly action at Stalybridge St Paul's on Sunday. We can bring the excellent news that Ruffers Jnr picked up 3-26 and Awais chipped in with a ridiculous 4-3 ... or did they? (see later). The home side were dismissed for 70, despite opener Hall notching 37. There was a decidedly unusual look to the middle order with batsmen three to nine recording 1-1-0-1-0-0-0. In the binary system this would actually be 104, but in cricketing terms sadly it's just three ... one further point of interest was that Alan Carr recorded a second ball duck. I assume he wasn't such a chatty man afterwards. Oh and a further further point of interest. We apparently took a grand total of 16 wickets to completely break the CricHQ scoring system, with Ruffers Jr managing 5 in all!

The Totts reply was somewhat more impressive in batting terms - Sam followed up his Saturday heroics with another unbeaten half century while Harvey Holt picked up a red inker with 20 not out as the Totts line up cruised to 99-0 which seems a somewhat unusual response to 70 all out until you figure out the extended home innings and all that. The home side's Adam Dooley is presumably not related to TV's Stacy, but perhaps someone could investigate this most unusual affair! I have no idea if anyone's still reading this nonsense and if you are well done! I've got a PhD you know and I'm still none the wiser.

The usual thanks to everyone who helped out before, during and after the matches through the week to "get the game on" and who keep the club providing its amazing matchday experience for all. To our groundsmen, scorers, umpires, players, bar staff, spectators, family and friends - thank you!

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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