The senior Saturday sides finally kicked off their 2023 campaigns after abandonments and blank weekends, but there was disappointment all round, albeit under varying circumstances.

Following 2022's fantastic promotion campaign and the recruitment of new blood, the 1sts went into their game at Werneth with high expectations. Having won the toss, Lenny's side elected to bat under warm conditions, and the opening pair of Niko and Deardo put on 48. However three quick wickets, including that of debutant Nick Haynes, it was left to pro Burns and Phill Hayes to rebuild the innings. Aftr another cluster of wickets, Burns and Ruffers put on 64 to take the score to 174-5. The innings closed on a more than reasonable 189-8, the pro top scoring with a well-paced 47.

Mo Abbas went off like a train, with Lenny forced to leave the attack after one over. Niko and Burns then took control and with a run out thrown into the mix, Werneth collapsed to 67-7, with Totts firmly in the driving seat. Unfortunately the game's winning partnership then came together, with keeper Longden and Barakzai scrambling 45 in just over 5 overs. With weather wreaking havoc on the Totts control of the game, the home side's eventual total of 112-7 was deemed enough under D/L conditions to seal the victory. The firsts will however take heart from being in charge for much of the match, and there were runs under the belt for several of the batsmen and useful wickets for Niko, Burns and Smalley.

Back at the Meadows the 2nds were eager to take to the field against Clifton after a blank opening weekend. With conditions in certain parts of the ground barely playable (despite heroic efforts from KC and the Peacocks) both sides were in favour of getting the match underway in muggy conditions. Clifton won the toss and elected to bowl, presumably thinking the outfield might dry out later on. Doc and Tom got off to a slow but steady start, with numerous attacking shots hitting the fielders. After Doc departed, Matty Hall and Tom put together an impressive partnership of 60 to take the score to 88-1. Unfortunately the introduction of spinner Turner changed the complexion of the game. The young offie picked up six wickets as nobody appeared able to get to grips with him. With only Doc, Tom and Matty reaching double figures the innings imploded; we lost 9 wickets for 30 and a final score of 128 all out looked to be maybe 50 below par, especially given the start. A definite "early season" batting performance with many players looking a little undercooked and unable to get going, especially against the slow bowlers.

Morale at tea was still high though, and with Matty Hall and new boy Connor settling into their work early, the visitors also started slowly. However that man Turner and partner Howarth produced some big shots, and the score quickly mounted. A couple of edges and near misses off Matty kept us interested, but by the time the change bowlers were introduced the opening pair was well into their stride and accelerating rapidly. Doc was swept repeatedly and Nick Marsh induced a couple of wild heaves but there seemed no answer to the increasing run rate. Despite Donny doing his best to keep everyone going, the game was fast slipping away and we definitely lost some atmosphere in the field. Kev was brought on and finally the breakthrough arrived as Turner attempted one big shot too many and lost his stumps. The number three came in and then swiped horribly at his second ball to also lose his wicket. Howarth ended the innings with another big six over long on and that sadly was that with over 20 overs to spare.

There were still positives despite a fairly average all-round performance. Tom and Matty looked in full control and Donny kept very well. None of the bowlers bowled badly, with no extras at all, but we have to hold our hands up and say perhaps we got a few things wrong and Clifton's openers were just that bit better on the day. We'll play worse and win.

Thanks as always to the groundsfolk who worked tireless through the week, to Sharon and co behind the bar and to our usual enthusiastic bunch of spectators who were clearly enjoying themselves quite a lot despite the on-field disappointment! We go again next week.

To view scorecards from all our games, view the TSJ fixtures and results on CricHQ or check out our fixtures page.

I Will if You Will Biffaward

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