Norden gave us a beating away from home last year so this added extra incentive to reverse that form in our first outing at Acre Bottom this season. Dale got off the mark at the toss and elected to bat, and confidence was high that we could post a big total.
The returning Alex Olpin (16) and last week’s top scorer, Ben Parkinson (20), set about laying down the foundations with another positive start. However, a couple of bowling changes at both ends saw us fall from 42-0 to 63-4, as both openers, myself and Dale were sent back to the shed following a good fightback from an experienced Norden outfit. Fortunately, we had the luxury of two of our most seasoned men, Price (50) and Michael Howarth (30) in at five and six, and they calmly went about restoring order to our innings.
With a mix of well-timed strokes and quick singles, the rate began to pick up and there were mumbles of 200+ from the boundary as the pair took the score past 140 with around ten overs remaining. However, once Pricey was stumped for a well-made 50, and Mike followed in the same fashion an over later, we were forced to settle for 176ao.
Home advantage is a crucial asset to us, especially when batting first. To chase anything over 150 with the options we have at our disposal is worthy of victory, and so it proved as we quickly reduced Norden to 28-3 following good opening spells from Jake Walker (1-24) and Ghulum Abbas (2-22).
With the pace men providing an ideal platform for the spinners to take over, Dale (5-12) and Chris Round (2-21) made light work of what followed and saw Norden off for 80ao with 15 overs to spare.
Despite only being two weeks into the season, it is already clear that the new format is throwing up tough, competitive games each week, with only three of the twelve teams holding unbeaten records. We sit joint top with maximum points and go into Sunday’s game at Accrington with confidence that unbeaten run can be extended.