1STS SNATCH ASTONISHING WIN AT WALSHAW
A match that had been seemingly moving to an inevitable conclusion was turned on its head in an astonishing finale that few could have predicted or indeed ever seen the like of before. With the home side just three runs away from securing a comfortable 4 wicket win against Totts, the Doc produced an inspired last over to clean up the tail and bring home the points.
But we'll return to those dramatic events later.
In extremely muggy conditions, it came as a surprise when the Walshaw skipper won the toss and put Totts in to bat. With both teams short of players due to holidays and the Old Trafford Test match, this was always going to be about who stood up on the day. The returning Doc and Stu took to the crease to try and get us off to a steady start. Doc survived an early edge past 2nd slip in the first over, but after that the openers appeared to be relatively untroubled by the new ball bowlers, of whom Godsell was particularly impressive.
A slow start suddenly burst into life with the Doc smashing three fours in Nicholls' last over before a quite remarkable catch at gully saw the end of Batigan. Chinese George arrived and appeared determined to play most of the innings with his pads, unfurling two lovely drives before another LBW appeal brought his demise. Things got worse immediately as Birdy played down the wrong line, and then Doc, who appeared to be stepping it up, hit the ground and spooned a catch back to Openshaw for 33.
Walshaw old boy Rick came in to some abuse, and soon departed, and it was left to Ry Marsh to anchor the innings. He played some very good shots off the spinners, and was joined by skipper Watty in determined mood. A couple of windmill shots were soon put back in the locker as the skipper and Ry put on a useful 39 runs before both departed inside 5 balls. Hayesy and Nick Marsh then attempted to run themselves silly, to some comic effect, with veteran Hayesy making 21 off just 19 balls to give the innings a little late momentum. With two wickets falling at the death, we were left on a total of 148. It looked a way short on a reasonable batting strip, but with Walshaw several players down, who knew?
After a lovely tea, made better with the sight of Root smashing Pakistan to all parts, Totts took to the field desperate to get back to winning ways. Nick Marsh and Farhan induced several edges, some of which fell short of slips and gully and others flew past fielders. Then a stroke of luck, as young Pilkington went for a suicidal run to Rick Carr at cover, whose bullet throw left the youngster stranded - and to his credit, senior Pilky at square leg raised the finger. The next partnership however threatened to spoil our day, with Nicholls and Davis lifting the score to 75. Farhan was very unlucky to see some sharp chances spilled, but it was the introduction of Russ that finally brought us back into the game.
Birdy doesn't get to play much these days, but he's contributed every time he's set foot on the pitch this year. This was arguably his best bowling spell of the season, Lakeside possibly excepted. From the outset he put uncertainty in the batters minds, and he got his reward when Nicholls hit a drive straight back to him. Rick came on at the other end and somehow managed not to get a wicket in his three overs, despite seeing two simple catches go down in one over and several other shots fly over or through the slips!
Doc was brought on to steady things, and as he kept one end tight, Birdy wheeled away and picked up another couple of wickets, with Davis falling for a quick 49 and Rhodes bowled by a superb delivery. Openshaw and Parris came and went, both snapped up by Watty at slip, and Birdy had 5 wickets from a tremendous spell.
At 126-6, Walshaw still remained favourites, with Doc starting to flag and Bird near the end of his spell. Allum was living a slightly charmed life, continually playing the ball off his middle or off stump, but looking quite safe when he played straight. At 145, and just three needed, it required something special to save the day - and nobody quite expected the events that came next.
By this stage, Totts support on the boundary was quite vocal, led by Nelly B who was depserately trying to get Doc pumped up - he would later claim some credit for the win and rightly so! The over started with one last desperate effort ball, which was snicked and Clive took a superb one handed catch. 145-7. This looked to be just a consolation, but two balls later Doc, running in with renewed energy, got a bit of movement and trapped Nally right in front. Up went the finger - 145-8.
Everyone was starting to get a bit manic now, and things rose to fever pitch next ball when Pilkington saw his middle stump knocked over by the rampaging Doc. Bedlam on the field, bedlam on the terrace ... 145-9. Yates took strike, with bat draped outside off stump ... and somehow just jammed it down on the hat-trick ball. One ball to go in the over, could the impossible happen? You bet, as Doc speared a yorker under the bat to knock the off stump down and complete quite possibly the most remarkable finish any of us have ever been involved in. Absolute chaos ensued with players running from all parts and the young Walshaw lads slumped on the pavilion, quite unable to believe the four wicket maiden that had ended their hopes.
Regardless of the result we must pay some tribute to the two Walshaw lads who came on as sub fielders when Ry Marsh was forced to limp off. They did themselves and their team proud, and were both excellent - thanks lads. Pilky and co were really gracious despite the obvious shock of the defeat, and much revelling followed.
Plenty of other positives from the game from our side too, the ending notwithstanding. Birdy kept us in the game with a quite superb spell and much deserved reward of 5-34, despite chances coming and going at the other end. Ry put in a good shift with the bat and managed to get 35 overs sat watching with Rowdy for his troubles, and Hayesy's runs were really valuable. GT and Rick in particular were excellent in the field. Great work lads!
One final moment to mention, quite possibly the worst sledge of all time from Nick Marsh:
*Russ takes wicket and new batsman comes in*
Wardy: "Left arm round, three balls to come"
Nick: "... and they'll be good ones too!"