In what was always going to be a mismatch, reigning Lancashire League and Woprsley cup holders Lowerhouse, arguably the best "amateur" side in the county, gave us a bit of a lesson in the LCB Knock Out cup at Crompton Meadows on Saturday. With a margin of victory of almost 200, could Totts take away anything from the game?

The answer, of course, was an emphatic yes. This was always an opportunity for a junior club to showcase its facilities and ambitions to a giant of local cricket, and with an enthusaiastic reception from both players and spectators of Lowerhouse, it was pretty much job done. Certainly if we wish to progress and ever play a higher standard, it's days like this that remind us that on the pitch we have a way to travel - but off it, we can certainly hold our own.

KC won the toss and inserted the visitors on what appeared to be the usual low, sticky early season type of Totts wicket. I suspect the thinking may have been to nibble a couple out, but any thoughts of an upset disappeared sharpish as opener Heap and pro Frank Haasbroek exerted their class. Having raced into the 70s inside 10 overs, it was something of a relief when wily campaigner Nelly B managed to weave his magic and get the pro stumped emphatically. To watching eyes the pro appeared to have a rush of blood and miss a straight one but those who know Neil will know it did all sorts in the air :)

Nick Marsh bowled a decent spell, with his brother nursing a bad shoulder and knee and unable to contribute with the ball, but despite continuing to play everything with straight bats and not resort to agricultural hitting, the visitors found themselves approaching 240 with 10 overs left. Heap and Hawke in particular played terrific innings, making it look effortless at times; both fell in the 70s. Asif and Doc bowled a gutsy final 10 overs to concede just 50 runs and restrict Lowerhouse to 290-6, when at one point 350+ had been on the cards. Asif ended with 3 wickets for his troubles, and we all felt like we'd kept going well in the face of some brutal strokeplay. As in previous encounters with top sides, what really stood out was not so much quality of batting (though it was very good), but certainly quality of positioning and running between the wickets, which was light years better than anything we see on a weekly basis.

It was always going to need a superhuman effort to knock off the runs, and thoughts of an early charge disappeared as Doc P succumbed first ball to a rank long hop from Hawke which on a normal week might have ended up in the Island Lodge. Sadly it was prodded tamely to midwicket and thereafter skipper Kieran and the returning Stu Batigan decided to dig in. And dig in. And dig in some more.

Despite some aggressive bowling and attacking fields, we never really made a run for it, but to their credit the resilient duo stuck at it and we got to the 22 over mark with just one wicket down. Batigan then went immediately after drinks, and there was a mini-collapse with big guns Butterworth and Si Marsh falling to poor shots. The CDO kept plodding on though, a tremendous straight bat which appeared to get wider and ever more watchful as the overs ticked by. Indeed as the innings passed the 40 over mark, he was still there, until he became the final man out, throwing his bat in disgust after spooning a simple catch in the 43rd over for the most Boycott-esque innings of 36.

Lowerhouse were most gracious in victory, with plenty of compliments for the facilities and atmosphere throughout the day - yes we've an awful long way to go on the pitch, but we continue to make strides. Thanks to the visitors for treating the game seriously and putting out a very strong side, and good luck in round 2.


I Will if You Will Biffaward

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