A home tie was in store for the 2’s on Saturday, looking to bounce back from the Bank Holidays’ cup disappointment against bogey team Greenfield with a win, one more convincing than away at Springhead the weekend previous.

On a wicket which had stood up well to a battering by the weather (thanks KC, as always), Watty lost the toss for the first time this year and was invited to bat by Farnworth SC’s skipper. With a revamped batting line up after two innings only offering a combined 187 runs, Totty opened with Mahmood and Watty, with Sail padded up at three. After a steady couple of overs against the opening bowlers, who were bowling perhaps a little short, both batsmen started playing more attacking shots, Mahmood preferring the cut shot against the bowling of Chaz from the top end, and Watty driving well against Flemming from the clubhouse end. As the scoreboard started to move into the fifth and sixth overs, Watty went onto the offensive and scored twelve off one Flemming over, including two well-timed drives either side of the bowler. Mahmood was picking the short ball well and dispatching through point and covers.

With the scoreboard on 55 after just nine overs, helped along by the “extras” column adding up with wides, Watty fell LBW to Flemming for 29. At 55-1, Sail (fresh from his USA adventure with even darker hair) got to the crease and started to settle in with some nicely timed shots, and Mahmood continued to put the bad ball away, and no doubt offer local fielders some samples of the confectionary he usually keeps in his pockets. The scoreboard was starting to motor along, and when Mahmood fell we were well set, still with some big hitters to come. Ryan Marsh, in his regular number four spot, vice captain Stoney, George and Farhan all through the middle order offered plenty of steel, and, they all contributed well. Sail and Ryan Marsh started to get on top of the two openers again, both progressing through the teen’s prompting two bowling changes. The introduction of Farnworths’ young spinner Jess started to dry the runs up, with both batsmen struggling to built the field with some flighty, deceptive off-spin from the young lady. After a brief chat at “over”, both batsmen agreed they needed to go after the bowling, either to force a change, or bring a new batsmen in – unfortunately it was young Ryan who sacrificed his wicket after another good score into the 20’s to add to his run total for the year.

However, the fall of young Marsh saw vice captain Stoney arrive at the crease with his usual amount of “Team Chav” swagger (Stu Batigan, 2015) – after telling everyone “I’m not gonna play properly now I’m just gonna play my game cos I got bowled leaving a straight one and I don’t like playing defensively”, he didn’t disappoint. Fluent, attractive cricket shots combined with excellent running which made singles into two’s saw our hero score quickly – mentored by Sail (who fell in the 20’s) and then George, fresh after his first bowling machine experience, Stoney really went after the bowling and punished anything remotely short or wide, and comfortably dealt with any potential wicket-taking balls with noticeable ease. Bringing his fifty up whilst three of the lads were looking for lost balls behind the clubhouse with another boundary was a fitting way to reach his landmark, and, the best was yet to come. After calming himself down and receiving warm praise from the opposition fielders, Stoney went to town against the FSC spinners and scored 28 off one over of sheer carnage; losing George and Farhan fairly quickly at the other end almost went unnoticed due to the sheer volume of runs being scored. Eventually, when Stoney fell LBW for 86, the innings was seen out by Smiffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffy and Mickey Jones, closing on 233-8 which saw all our top six contribute with runs, bolstered hugely by a mammoth innings by Stoney.

After tea, FSC started with some confidence after some of their more experienced players were overheard saying “its only one boundary an over” – opening the bowling with Watty and Farhan, we set about knocking over the ten wickets we needed. After a steady start, Farhan made the first breakthrough from the top end, followed quickly by Watty taking his first as they fell into a trap set by Sail, gifting a simple catch to new lad Tom Kerwin in the covers. The run rate was drying up to a trickle now thanks to especially tight, aggressive bowling from Farhan, who’s second wicket, removing Capstick, saw a one-handed diving effort from Watty at first slip which left all in shock, including the batsman who looked on in disbelief for a good ten seconds before walking. The fall of the third wicket was the catalyst to kick on; the next 14 or so overs went for less than 40 runs; Farhan was bowling excellently from the top end, taking wickets every few overs, and he rightly earned his first 5-fer of the season, removing the danger man of Rees after changing his line by coming around the wicket and hitting the top of off stump on a regular basis. After a double bowling change as Farnworth were 7 down, Watty introduced Sail and Mahmood – our game was over inside the next four overs thanks to a sharp run out and Sail taking two wickets inside 10 balls.

Overall, an excellent team performance, a revamped batting line up and some simply outstanding individual performances from Stoney and Farhan – five points, and sitting at the top of Division Three before our two week break.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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