Three months after torrential rain washed away our annual Boxing Day clash, the cricketers of Brooksbotom and TSJ got together on Good Friday for a pre-season friendly. Extended to 30 overs per side, the game was the chance to assess a couple of new faces in the TSJ ranks and a new-look team line up. It was also the women's open day, and we were delighted to see some newcomers among those turning up to sign on for the season. There was also the chance for many people to get their first look at the impressive new facilities and 1st floor changing rooms, which look fantastic!

Onto the game. Watty's first game in charge started positively with TSJ batting first and beginning relatively untroubled, in the face of some wayward bowling from Kyle Ogden. New recruit George and old hand Nick Marsh took us to 20 before the first wicket fell, but before long there was a clatter as Odgen and Mano Khan Bari got into their stride - George, Doc (first ball!), Ry and Si Marsh all fell in very quick succession. It was definitely not Doc's day at this point - he'd already completely obliterated one of the really smart new kits by hacking about two feet off the end of his trousers to leave what can best be described as "three quarter length" pants. An awful lot of mickey-taking ensued ...

Back on the field, things were going from bad to worse as further wickets saw us slump to 60-7. Enter the skipper, who'd been the subject of some fearful stick from assorted spectators, Marcus in particular. In the face of some friendly bowling, Watty, aided mainly by Batty Boy, bludgeoned the ball around to double the score in about 6 overs. Late wickets meant we closed on a relatively respectable 140, a score we'd certainly have taken after 15 overs! Mano took 4 wickets and bowled especially well.

The Brox reply had barely started when everyone was forced to leave the field after a nasty accident involving an elderly spectator. Despite a somewhat bloody head, he was taken away to be looked after and play resumed. Hayesy and Farhan couldn't settle and runs came very quickly, with the Brox openers Ryan McDonald and skipper Paul Hopton passing 50 in about 7 overs. The introduction of Sail brought immediate results, showing that he'll be an invaluable asset this year - good leg spinners are very hard to come by at any level. However the ball was continuing to disappear and despite Si Marsh coming on, runs were flowing from McDonald and Ogden. Sail took a second wicket before Watty threw the ball to Doc for what turned out to be the pivotal few overs of the game.

After taking an over to adjust Paul hit his stride and two wickets in two balls suddenly saw us back in the game. Another wicket fell, two catches went down in quick succession and then a tight over resulted in some panicky running and a run out. Some big hitting from Mano off Nick saw Brox within 3 runs of the target when Doc bowled the Brox number 6 and sent him on his way with a completely uncharacteristic gesture - he was seething at the batsman standing 6 feet outside leg stump apparently ...! A couple of tight singles saw Brox to a deserved win, but a great come back from Totts to take 5 quick wickets - with another 10 runs (or earlier wickets) it may have been different, but then again we were lucky to get the score we did!

The match was played in good cheer throughout, as always, aside from Doc's completele eppy for which he became the first winner of the "Toys out of Pram" rattle, which was duly chucked off the new balcony to big cheers. Something tells me he'll be winning it again over the coming months! Some positives included a useful debut from George, Watty's hitting, Sail and Doc with the ball, and a really good team spirit throughout. Many thanks to the lads for getting the ground fit, our umpires, everyone who came down to support (and heckle!), and both sets of players and spectators who had a thoroughly good day in some much needed sunshine.

Some photos of the game, courtesy of GT's pops are on the Brooksbottom facebook page and more in our updated image gallery!.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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