Winning the toss and batting for the third week in succession, we struggled to build any real partnerships throughout the innings. Martin Cropper opened up with a brisk 30 and Ben Wilkinson dug in for what at the break felt like a crucial 25. Aside from that, solid contributions were few and far between, despite having a top seven packed with 1st Xl experience.
I can’t remember the last time we batted ourselves into trouble and Wilks didn’t drag us out of the mire. He seems to always score runs when we need them most and it is a real gutter that his quad finally screamed “No More!” after struggling through with a suspected tear. The fact that he has soldiered on despite clearly being hampered by injury for the last few weeks further underpins the man’s dedication to his team.
Anyway, we stumbled to 130 with the feeling being we were probably at least 20 short, but as ever, confidence was high that we could make early inroads and put the batsmen under pressure before the spinners came on.
Dan Pyke (who earlier had made a good 18 before being unfortunate to be given out lbw) and Ghulam Abbass started well but the breakthrough didn’t come. So, Skipper Dale turned to Chris Round on what as ever was a turning wicket, and overall, we kept it relatively tight. So Rishton reached 60-3 at drinks with the game in the balance.
Young left arm spinner, Henry Doyle performed a good holding job from and with two overs to go Rishton required just three with three wickets in hand. A task which should have been relatively straight forward, yet again Dale (5-30ish) bowled us to the brink of an unlikely victory with two wickets in three balls, setting up a tense last over with Rishton needing two.
Virgil Dan Pyke (the best nickname anyone has coined since Jonny was labelled Trigger) was the man to bowl it and he opened up with a dot.
2 off 5.
They then scampered through for a leg bye with Michael Howarth narrowly missing the stumps at the bowler’s end.
Scores tied, 4 balls to play.
Dot. 1 off 3.
If we had bowled them out with the scores level that would have meant nine points which is only one short of what you get for a win, but once they dashed through for another leg bye with two balls remaining, defeat was finally tasted, and we were forced to settle for five points.
In all honesty we were below par in every regard. 20 short with the bat, at least 15 needless runs given up in the field and often bowling a little short on a pitch where the reward for bowling full was at best a wicket and at worst a single.
Despite being a little off colour, we lost the game with two balls remaining and the five points we picked up have taken us to the top of the league with a trip to Turf Moor next up on Sunday. Game’s against Burnley always have an added grit and it presents the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways and cement our place at the top of the table.