LILLEY (143 all out, Ashby 56, Eyres 32) beat Markyate (93 all out, Smith 49, Ashby 4-19) by 50 runs

Lilley recorded their first win of the 2003 campaign in fine style at Markyate with an impressive 50 run win.

During the week, skipper James Ashby had discussed with Stew Collinson the reason for the teams early season jitters.  The resulting theory was that we didn’t have enough facial hair in the team, therefore Sultan ‘Ray’ Mahmood was recalled to the side and Collinson purchased a comedy beard, which would later become know as the Victory Beard.  Also in the team were young Taz, a new recruit and Rizvan ‘Jake’ Malik for his first Lilley outing of the season.

Lilley skipper Ashby won the toss and elected to bat on a very dry, dusty track at Markyate in the hope of exorcising some demons from last week’s drubbing at Whitwell.  Ashby, batting at five, was more than a little jittery when he found himself at the crease in the third over with Lilley 7 for 3 after the early loses of Mellor, Carman and Mahmood to expansive strokes on a sluggish track.  Rizvan provided some temporary stability, but he too was a victim of a cavalier approach, wildly swinging at Smith’s second delivery and being stumped some yards from safety leaving the score 35-4.  Phil Clarke then provided some support for the Captain, with Ken Hammond having not yet arrived at the ground, and held one end up while Ashby grafted his way into form, hitting several boundaries to keep the board ticking.  Clarke’s departure for 4 though, followed almost immediately by Hammond for the same score, left Lilley staring down the barrel of defeat again.

Enter Steve Eyres, who managed to quell his natural desire to bludgeon the bowling to pieces, at least temporarily, to drop anchor.  Ashby continued to work away and registered the first Lilley half century of the season with another cracking boundary four.  At that point, the skipper fell into somewhat of a rut, but where his runs dried up, Eyres began flowing.  Two successive thunderous fours ruined the off spinner Smith’s figures for the afternoon and Ashby’s departure seven overs before the end was marked by another trademark Eyres six, a towering effort over the straight long boundary.  The Eyres show was finished in the 37th over, caught for 32 and Paddington and Collinson proved to be wickets two and three of Saunders hat-trick, Lilley finishing 143 all out.

The total was always likely to be too many for Markyate on a ropey track, but Ashby’s fine early season form continued to compound matters, having Flitton brilliantly caught at square leg by Mellor with the third ball of the innings.  Ken Hammond chipped in with two more wickets and Ashby grabbed a second to leave the home side 12 for 4 in the seventh over.  Markyate dug in though and began finding the boundary with Lilley’s first change coming into the attack.  Smith then lobbed the ball towards debutante Taz at deep mid off, but the youngster bottled going for the catch.  The batsmen seemed to be cruising through for the run, but Taz picked the ball up and hurled the ball at – and hit – middle stump at the strikers end to remove Porter, who had provided stubborn defence.

Phil Clarke had ‘got a bit of tap’ from Smith, so was relieved to add a wicket to his return when he had Woods well caught in the slips by Hammond.  At 87-6, Markyate still had a sniff of a chance, but that ended when Rizvan Jake Malik bowled a long hop which was tamely struck to Clarke in the covers, who took a good catch.  Ashby then returned to remove Boodle and Patis in successive balls and the wonderfully named Dumpleton fell to the same Rizvan/Clarke partnership to wrap up proceedings.

Good win and many, many beers had in the pub afterwards.  Maybe too many!!  But either way, I counted eight jugs bought in all….cricket is always the winner.   And here’s to that victory beard

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