On a scorching day down at Acre Bottom, the 1st XI welcomed league newcomers Norden for their first league visit knowing that this game would be tough test after a close encounter in the T20 a couple of weeks ago.
After winning the toss, Norden without hesitation decided to bat looking to set the Rammy lads a big score on what looked like a very good wicket and a browning outfield due to the prolonged warm weather which once past the infield, Usain Bolt would struggle to stop the ball reaching the boundary due to the lightning quick playing area.
Matt Burdaky and Jonny Fielding opened the bowling and it became evident early on that the wicket was going to be a tough scoring strip with the pitch lacking pace and slight uneven bounce, this no criticism of the wicket as the ground staff are working hard on the square under the current weather conditions, the square requiring constant watering.
Jonny removed one of the openers and the number 3 and when Birdy picked up his 1st wicket with a dubious caught behind, Norden were in a bit of trouble 27 for 3. The Norden professional came to the crease with intent, playing some aggressive shots before he holed out to a sensational catch from Owen Collinge on the Riverside boundary, 40 for 4.
One of the league’s leading run scorers Josh Tolley was looking set to go on and get a big score until Birdy with one the last balls of his spell got the opening batsmen playing on which was of huge celebration for the fielding side, 69 for 5.
A solid stand from Butterworth and Pimm which was starved of run scoring opportunities by some tight bowling saw Norden get to 128 for 6.
Jonny and new professional, Werner Coetsee than wrapped up the lower order with the last 4 wickets falling for 4 runs.
A very tight bowling performance backed up by some strong fielding meant Ramsbottom required 133 to win knowing this wouldn’t be easy if the Norden bowling attack bowled well on a tough wicket.
JJ Fielding and Tom Parton opened for Ramsbottom and when JJ Fielding was out LBW to Malik who bowled 15 overs for 24 runs it was evident that the run chase was going to be a long and tough one.
Martin Cropper played a glorious drive to begin his innings and then was bowled by the Norden Professional, Sandham for 4. Enter pro, Werner Coetsee (19) who played 3 superb shots to the boundary adding impetuous to the innings before unluckily hitting one on to his foot and the ball rolling back on to the stumps. 54 for 3.
Tom Parton was playing a captains knock at the other end battling against the disciplined Norden bowling when he was joined by Simon Hanson, a 30 run partnership followed before Tom after attacking the Norden Spinner, Butterworth with some exceptional sweep shots and a large straight six then was stumped as he looked to attack. An innings of maturity and patience from Tom (32) getting his team within 50 of the required target. 84 for 4.
Rob Read (10) joined Simon and between them both patiently picked up 1’s and 2’s with the odd bad ball being put to the boundary before Simon (25) having played a very classy straight drive then lofted the Norden Pro to Mid Off. 111 for 5.
Jonny Fielding joined Rob, both players knowing each other’s games and enjoy batting together looked to be seeing the team home uncomplicatedly. Rob played a powerful square drive for 4 then next ball, a moment of madness with him leaving a straight one to be cleaned bowled, half way up of off stump! 120 for 6.
A booming cover drive from Jonny (10*) and sweet cut by Dale Gabriel (3*) saw Ramsbottom home with 5.5 overs to spare.
A patient chase from the team against a strong and controlled bowling attack in front of a healthy and sun soaked crowd. Norden are certainly a welcome addition to the league.
Ramsbottom travel to Clitheroe on Saturday in the league and host Enfield on Friday night in the ¼ final of the T20 competition.