24 September 2020
Thornham were crowned champions of Division E on Saturday with a comprehensive win over Prestwich 2s.
Knowing a win would be enough for the title, and playing at home in the comfort of their own surroundings, the day didn’t start well for Thornham as they lost the toss and were asked to bat. The home side were keen to make up for the complacency that dogged them in the loss at Lakeside, and knew this would provide a tougher test than last week’s mauling of Clifton. That prediction proved correct, Prestwich’s opening bowlers bowling with skill and pace, removing the top 3 of Smith, Mansfield and Hughes before the scoreboard had reached 20.
A rebuild was required, and Wiseman and Kashif set about their task with aplomb. Eschewing their traditional aggressive approach, the two pushed singles, ran hard and compiled a near faultless partnership of 83. This carried the Thornham total into three figures, Kashif furious with himself for getting out on 40. Wiseman pushed on to complete his maiden Thornham half century before eventually being dismissed for 66, and when Heywood top edged a pull shot Thornham were teetering at 126 for 6.
This brought Captain Micklethwaite to the crease, batting lower in the order due to a tendon injury that had required surgery the week before. Howarth and Micklethwaite compiled a further 30 runs through hard running and innovative shots, taking the total past 150. The decision was taken to bat sensibly and properly to accumulate runs in the last 10 overs and utilise the overs, rather than throw away wickets with attempted mindless aggression. With support towards the end from Walsh, Micklethwaite ended unbeaten on 23, and the team finished with a highly competitive 180. This was a superb recovery from both 19 for 3 and 126 for 6 – Thornham teams of the past could have easily ended with a score of less than 150.
Opening bowlers Pattison and Heywood have become used to early wickets in their spells this year, however this day proved to be somewhat different, Prestwich’s openers both looking solid. Pattison got the breakthrough in the 7th over thanks in no small part to a superb slip catch from Howarth, showing the value of having the right fielders in the right places. Pattison was removed after 5 overs and replaced by Kashif, which proved to be a master stroke.
Kashif and Heywood bowled in tandem for the next 10 overs, high quality spin from both ends proving far too good for Prestwich, the scoreboard going from 35 for 1 after 10 to 56 for 5 after 20, Thornham well and truly in the driving seat. Kashif switched ends with 3 wickets to his name, and Pattison returned for a 2 over burst of pace, the final ball of which resulted in his second wicket of the day.
Kashif continued where he left off, turning the ball more than keeper Walsh has ever seen before in the amateur game, completing a 5 wicket haul and ending with figures of 9-2-21-5. Micklethwaite unceremoniously removed both Pattison and Kashif from the attack, McMahon and Howarth tasked with finishing off the innings. Kashif had other ideas though, a direct hit run out proving that you can never keep him out of the game. Howarth wrapped things up from the pavilion end, the final wicket clean bowled, ending Prestwich’s innings on 91 and sending the Thornham players and crowd wild.
The win sealed top spot in Division E, a remarkable effort from a side which had seen a change in Captain since last year, a loss of senior players and several players stepping up from the 2s or returning from the wilderness of not playing. Captain Micklethwaite was rightfully delighted with the win on the day, as well as the season overall, team spirit proving the key to success.