There was a third successive defeat for the 1sts but finally some signs of promise for the future, as youngsters Ste Brooks and Ryan Stoney stepped up. League champions Irlam were always going to be a tough proposition, and when stand-in skipper KC lost the toss, an afternoon chasing leather beckoned. The visitors got off to a rapid start, with the openers scampering lots of quick singles and generally causing mayhem before the introduction of young Brooksy.

The first wicket saw some controversy, with nobody apparently sure whether the batsman had been bowled behind his legs, stumped or whether the bails had been accidentally dislodged. In the event, the umpires decided the wicket had been legitimately broken and the partnership ended. When Doc caught a juggling effort on the boundary to give Ste his second wicket in quick succession, Totts finally had a hold in the game. However, the Irlam line up had other ideas, powering their way to 298-6, with contributions all the way down. The bowling highlight for Totts was of course 17 year old Ste, who took his maiden 5 wicket haul in the 1sts with a really good spell. He took some hammer at the death (as did everyone), but still ended with a terrific 5-72, showing control and poise throughout.

The top order failed to fire for the 3rd successive game and with the score at a somewhat dire 70-7, it was left to the last few batsmen to restore some respectability. This they did to great effect, putting on 102 runs for the last 3 wickets. Ryan Stoney led the way with an impressive and aggressive 49, and was ably backed up by Ry Marsh, who showed great maturity to bat through a dozen overs, and Asif who hit some towering sixes before being given out LBW (possibly the second controversial decision of the day) with just 2 balls remaining of the innings.

Irlam were deserved winners of course, but, despite another creaky performance, there are signs that the future is in good hands; Ste and Stoney were particularly impressive in the face of some hostility (cricketing and verbal), and with more exposure and consistency they should be 1st team mainstays for the foreseeable future.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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