27 April 2021

McClure, Heywood and Kashif control the game at Austerlands as both First and Second XI’s record victories

Thornham First XI travelled to Austerlands looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat on the opening day of the season at Mottram. Having lost the toss the visitors were asked to take first use of the wicket and that decision looked to have backfired on the home team skipper with McClure and Howarth making a solid start.

Both openers were looking good with McClure in particular seeming in fine nick, smoking the ball around the sunny Oldham ground. Howarth was the first to depart, unfortunate to sky a catch off the bowling of Lockett. Captain Micklethwaite ensured the good start was built on as he anchored a partnership with McClure who brought up his half century in no time.

After reaching fifty McClure was soon dismissed lbw to professional Rafiq and this brought Wiseman to the crease, making his first appearance of the season having missed the opening game. Wiseman and Micklethwaite put on 43 for the third wicket, patiently building the innings and controlling the game whilst negating the threat of the home side’s professional.

Two quick wickets for the hosts brought Kashif and Smith to the crease. Both of them took some time to get themselves in, a luxury afforded them by the prior batsmen’s hard graft. The accelerator was then pressed to get Thornham past the 200 mark. Kashif was out in the last over for 46 and Smith finished unbeaten on 31, their partnership of over 80 looking invaluable.

The second innings started with two tight overs before Heywood started the wickets tumbling, removing opener Sutherland and professional Rafiq in the same over, the Pakistani lasting only two balls before being caught in the slips by Wiseman. The bowler nearly ended up back at Thornham with his celebration.

Spin was certainly to be the way to go on the sloping track and Heywood completed his first five wicket haul of the season as wickets continued to come regularly. The left arm spinner showed his class, beating the bat on many occasions. From the other end, Kashif wasn’t to be outdone as he replaced seamer Pattison and took four wickets of his own, the ball turning as keeper Walsh would say “360 degrees”. McMahon was instrumental in finishing the game off, continuing the trend of taking a wicket in his first over and then the final catch off Kashif.

Nailing the game plan produced a convincing team performance to bounce back from the Mottram game. Next week sees the end of the early season travels as we welcome Adlington to Rochdale Road in what should be a bank holiday cracker.

Thornham Seconds face off with Brooksbottom on a sunny afternoon at Rochdale Road

Captain Riley got the first bit of the game right, winning the toss and electing to bat, with both openers getting off to a solid start before Iqbal was caught at slip for 12. This brought number 3 Hughes to the crease, he and Mansfield putting on 69 for the second wicket in quick time. Hughes’ half century came from fewer than 50 balls before he was caught and bowled by veteran slow bowler Lees, with 40 of those 51 runs scored in boundaries.

Mansfield batted on until the 44th over before falling for a career best 76, having anchored the home side superbly. His innings was full of excellent classical strokes, particularly square of the wicket on the off side. Thornham’s middle order added valuable runs with Greenwood, Abel, Riley and all-rounder Kennedy all contributing double figures, meaning Thornham set Brooksbottom an imposing 225 to win.

A rocky start to the second innings ensued with captain Riley obtaining a serious thumb injury in only the third over. This saw vice-captain Hughes having to take the reins whilst 3rd XI captain Collinge had to put his pint down on the side and enter the game as a substitute fielder.

An excellent opening spell by both Ahmed and Hall saw Brooksbottom get off to a slow start. Ahmed bowled Brooksbottom opening batsman Abbas with the score on just 18 in the 9th over, and would eventually finish the day with excellent figures of 3 for 57 from his 14 overs.

First change bowlers Young and Kennedy both bowled steady spells and took a wicket each. Young could have had 5 wickets if TCC had taken all their chances but it wasn't to be. Would these be missed chances the team would later regret? In an improvement, Iqbal secured an excellent run out with a direct hit of the stumps leaving Brooksbottom 4 down with the score on 65.

The away side’s middle order battled back into the game with Lees and Gowers adding valuable runs, Gowers in particular taking advantage of the short leg side boundary as he reached his half century. Thornham young gun Hall was twice recalled when Brooksbottom gained the advantage and both times dismissed the set batsmen, clean bowling both Gowers for 52 and crucially Lees for a well batted 80.

With the game taken deep and delicately poised, Brooksbottom found themselves 8 wickets down and needing 7 runs to win from the final over. Kennedy would be the hero of the day. Despite suffering from a hamstring injury he bowled an extremely tight final over which would see Brooksbottom falling to hit the 4 runs required from the final ball and the innings closing on 222 - just 2 runs short of TCC's total.

It was a nail biting finish to an excellent game of cricket, and great to see a strong home crowd supping beer on the patio now that restrictions have started to ease.

Third XI come up short against Failsworth Macedonia

Failsworth won the toss and made the most of a flat deck at Rochdale road, scoring 214 from their allocated 40 overs. The home side’s bowling attack was dealt a blow with Adnan suffering a leg injury in his only over. Bromfield, Safwan and Asif bowled well and at one point Failsworth were 121 for 5, before some lusty late order hitting from Lyndon carried them past 200. Bromfield finished with 2 wickets and a run out capping a good first half from him.

Chasing over 200 was always going to be difficult, and this wasn’t helped by the run out of Sarfraz in the first over. Adnan defied his injury to score a solid 45 before falling short of a half century in comical circumstances – Sarfraz having already been run out once was subsequently run out again whilst acting as a runner for Adnan. At 80 for 4 and with the top order dismissed, Failsworth were able to run through the tail to emerge comfortable winners.

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McClure, Heywood and Kashif control the game at Austerlands as both First and Second XI’s record victories