The firsts match with Deane and Derby on Saturday had all the elements of a tough game - until a callous moment totally spoiled what was promising to be a thriller. With the home side stumbling in pursuit of their 170 target, their square leg umpire refused to give out their captain, who was some 6-8 feet short of his ground, sparking furious scenes. It's to the credit of the Totts players, and skipper Kieran in particular, that things didn't end on an even more sour note, despite provcation from players and spectators alike.

However, let's turn back to the match itself, which was a decent - if controversial - affair right from the start. Both teams appeared a little confused at the toss, with each skipper thinking they'd won the coin flip, and when the umpire intervened to get them to toss again, the home captain was more than upset when he lost, possibly setting the tone for later events. As it was, Kieran elected to bat on what looked to be a decent surface.

Openers Doc and Mahmood found the new ball pair to be pretty brisk, and when Moody wafted loosely to provide a simple slip catch, it could have been trouble. Big Bird survived a shaky start and was starting to look more assured when he too fell, unluckily playing on. Ry Marsh then joined the Doc and the pair put on their 3rd half century stands in 4 knocks together this year, with both looking comfortable. The new ball pair made way for two cunning spinners, presenting different challenges, but seemed to be making progress to a hefty score before Ry fell. Doc survived a couple of near misses before reaching a hard fought 50, but then managed to get himself out in the usual way!

From 107-4, Rick Carr was then left with the task of rebuilding the innings and despite a couple of run outs, he made sure the score reached respectability, aided by a couple of lusty blows from Johnno at the end. A total of 169-7 looked slightly undercooked on a ground that was rapidly drying out - the Totts innings would possibly have been closer to 200 but for numerous shots in the first half of the innings plugging in the outfield.

After a most unusual tea of chilli pizza and fried chicken, Totts took to the field keen to make early inroads. However the Deane and Derby opener had other ideas, racing to 50 in about 5 minutes with a crazy mix of golf swings, wild play and misses, and some enormous blows. Doc P took the brunt of it, scant reward for bowling line and length, while Farhan managed to keep a lid on the other end with some decent bowling. The introduction of Big Bird brough the usual story - carnage in the first over, then two wickets in the second; the big hitting opener fell to one slog too many, Ry Marsh catching him at long on, then absolute jaffa of a delivery completely bamboozled the number 3 to put us back in the game.

Farhan continued to probe away, despite calls for a change from some of the side, and Kieran's persistence with the opening bowler was rewarded when he too struck twice in quick succession, a tame lob to square log followed by a good caught and bowled. The run rate was continuing to motor though, and the introduction of former D&D player Mahmood into the attack added extra spice. After an expensive start, Moody then took a wicket; with half the side gone, and around 45 needed, we were right back in it.

However, then came the controversy. The number 7 hit the ball to young Brooky at midwicket and set off, and junior Brooks' throw was arrow straight. Batigan collected and appeared to run the captain out by at least two yards. Unfortunately the square leg umpire, a home side player, decided to turn a blind eye despite furious protests for several minutes. Kieran attempted to calm everyone down but from that point the decent atmosphere was totally ruined. Players and spectators were screaming abuse at some of our time and young Brooky copped some abuse which he couldn't help but react to. It was all quite unsavoury, and hopefully may become a thing of the past in next year's structure, where breaches of discipline are less likely to be tolerated. Your reporter was stood right next to the square leg umpire and had the 2nd best view in the house - to be honest, had I been batting in that situation I'd probably have walked, that far from the crease. Still, the umpire's decision is final, so they say - on a day when Ben Stokes' dismissal sparked massive differences of opinion, this was little different (save that the player was definitely out).

To his credit, the other umpire could do little to reverse the decision, despite clearly seeing the incident, and he did keep things in check as best he could. Totts were clearly riled and everyone got a little sharper. Two more wickets fell, but with 13 coming off an over, the game was slipping away. A couple of near misses went begging and when Stephen was attempting to take a boundary catch on what proved to be the final ball he was clearly put off by 4 spectators sitting feet away. A dreadful ending to what had been a great game for the first 4 hours - a decent fight from Totts with the bat, and some blistering hitting from D&D then gradually reeled in by our spin attack.

We have no complaints with the eventual result - on balance we didn't get enough runs and allowed them to get away to too quick a start, but the manner of the run out incident, and particularly the abuse aimed at some of our fielders, has left a really sore taste on our first - and maybe only? - trip to Deane and Derby.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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