1STS RETURN TO SUMMIT WHILE 2NDS TOPPLE LEADERS

Here we are again. It was another very hectic weekend of cricketing action for all our lads and lasses, kicking off with a trip to Stand on Thursday for the latest T20. In a spirited encounter, the youthful Totts line up performed well, with Nathan Hall once again saving his best performances for the short format and picking up 5-33 as the home side racked up 157. The Totts reply was led by Ry Marsh who blasted three sixes on his way to 45, while Matty Hall kicked off the innings with 25. Ultimately a score of 112 was respectable against a strong Stand outfit.

Normal service resumed on Saturday as the 1sts sought to reclaim their spot atop Division 2 with a trip to Prestwich. In the absence of the pro, Matt Smalley was back to lead the attack alongside Lenny, and he struck twice early on to reduce the home side to 19-2. Wickets continued to tumble, with only three home players managing to get into double figures. Smalley was again the pick of the bowlers on his return, taking an impressive 5-35 as the Prestwich boys were kept to 133. Ruffers and Lenny chipped in with a brace of wickets apiece.

The Totts reply got off to its usual aggressive start, with Bret and Niko smashing the home side's attack to all parts and bringing up 50 inside 7 overs. Having lost both openers, the Totts reply continued at pace, with Matty and JB plundering the bowling in an unbroken stand of 73. Matty top scored with 38 not out as Totts reached their target in just 22 overs to pick up maximum points. With news of Darcy's defeat filtering through, the lads could celebrate not only another impressive win but a return to the summit of Division 2.

Down at the Meadows, Kieran was injured and decided not to spend until 12.29 mowing the outfield but becoming transformed into an unrecognisable "Mr Relaxed". Watty took up the captaincy mantle and predictably lost the toss against a Bradshaw outfit that had plundered over 400 the week before. Astonishingly they elected to field on what looked to be a decent strip, a decision which they may have later regretted. Watty and the Doc got the innings off to a steady start, but a clutch of quick wickets saw TSJ reduced to 45-3. After a very cautious beginning, Sam and Kev began to rebuild the innings. Kev then sparked into life by hitting a colossal straight six before Sam joined in the fun spanking 14 in three balls to really turn the momentum around.

A slight indulgent diversion at this point. Sam clubbed a six over the lodge side netting close to where two older guys were sitting. As we almost immediately gave up hope of retrieving the ball, which was probably halfway across the Island Lodge, the two gents began to engage in a particularly amusing discussion. Neither could quite understand "how the ball has actually gone over the net" and puzzled over it for quite some time. On the adjacent bench, this was providing some amusement especially to Ry Marsh and the Doc who were specualting as to the real reasons for such behaviour. A number of theories were postulated including the temporary movement of the Death Star out of the moon's orbit, thus causing the Earth's satellite to exert an increased tidal effect; this would have caused ripples down the lodge and almost certainly resulted in updrafts which may have picked the ball up just as it reached the net and caused it to transfer onto its new trajectory over the fence. Or something like that, possibly involving aliens or the temporary suspension of the laws of physics. Or a hole in the net.

In reality, Sam just hit the ball higher than the top of the net!

Anyway, back to the action and a truly excellent stand from our two batting heroes. By now they had brought up a century partnership, with Sam picking up a third consecutive half century (nicely done). Having both been dismissed, Birdy and Ry Marsh picked up useful late runs to take the score to a competitive 178-6. Given the slow progress in the middle of the innings, this was a decent effort on a wicket that actually didn't play quite as well as it looked.

With Bradders absent, a new look opening bowling attack of the ever-reliable Awais and the keen-as-mustard Ry Marsh (still puzzling over that Sam Collins six) took the new ball. Ry struck in the first over, managing to take more wickets with one ball than Bradshaw's opponents had done in the entirety of last weekend. A youthful batting line up was blown away by the openers, with the innings disintegrating to 31-5 in quick time. The only sticking point was experienced opener Tierney who had pulled off a double century the week before. After a decidedly shaky start and a lot of playing and missing, he began to pick up some boundaries, with the change bowlers of the two Nicks, Marsh and Taylor, bearing the brunt. Marshy did pick up a wicket thanks to a smart catch from keeper Clive, before the innings began to turn on the back of a partnership between Tierney and McGuinness.

From 61-6, the pair put on 79 at an increasing tempo as the Totts fielders began to look a little harrassed. The Doc came on in an attempt to lend some wily experience to proceedings and managed to serve up a tremendous long hop first ball which is probably still going up now. Thankfully both he and Awais settled down and once the Doc had got a yorker through Tierney to end his innings for an impressive 81, the tail was blown away inside two overs. Ry (3-17), Awais (3-28) and Paul (3-14) each picked up three wickets and a victory by 30 runs reflected an excellent all-round performance against the league leaders.

On Sunday Katie's charges made the vast trip down the lines to Totty neighbours Walshaw. Totts batted first and the now Bradmanesque Sam was once again in the runs, making 30 in an excellent opening stand of 73 with Johnno. Unfortunately this proved to be the innings high point, and despite the veteran Scouser recording a lovely 57, only Nicky T could reach double figures. 26 extras helped the score to a 150 target that could have been a lot more after the solid start.

In response, Walshaw got off to the worst possible start, with Katie getting Shukla to nick off first ball. Skipper Tammam led the fightback in a second wicket partnership of 95 to break the back of the innings, before a mini-collapse saw four wickets fall for 10 runs. However from 105-5 the home side were able to proceed to their victory target with few alarms, despite some good work from all the Totts bowlers. Awais, playing his 43rd game in a fortnight, took 2-25, and everyone bowled steadily, but it wasn't to be as Walshaw emerged victorious.

The usual thanks to everyone who helped out before, during and after the matches through the weekend 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! Thanks also to Hayesy, KC and all involved in Friday night's Prosecco ladies cricket for putting on a superb event that went long into the evening.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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