LILLEY (147-7, Tomsett 35), drew with Pirton (151 all out, Clarke 5-16)

Lilley conspired to draw a game they really should have won, despite Gareth Tompkins late order 24 not out from just eight deliveries.
Lilley won the toss and put the home side in overcast conditions.  The Lilley 2004 dropping syndrome returned in a major way, as a string of chances went begging early on.  Gareth Tompkins, replacing Tim Perry as new ball bowler, induced an early edge, only for skipper James Ashby to spill the chance low to his right at second slip.  Taz Qureshi was next to offend, dropping a simple chance off the skipper next over and a brace of drops from Phil Clarke at gulley made it four drops.  Ken Hammond then dropped a sharp chance at first slip to make it five.
After the circus, Hammond began working his way through the top order.  Ashby and Hammond had both earlier had huge caught behind shouts turned down, with the umpire actually giving the batsman out in Hammonds case, only to reverse his decision after the batsman had protested he had not hit it – which caused some understandable animosity.   Hammond eventually got an LBW decision and followed it up by inducing an edge through to Qureshi and then picking up a clean bowled, but the pick of his wickets was a sensational diving second slip catch by Gareth Tompkins to remove Tate.
Phil Clarke by this time had replaced GT at one end and was proving just too difficult to get away.  The medium pacer wheeled away and picked up a succession of wickets, bowled (2), caught behind and two catches by Ashby at short mid wicket/short cover respectively.  5-16, Philo’s finest figures in a Lilley shirt, proof if proof was needed that he is improving, like a fine wine, with age.
In the meantime, Hammond had another caught behind appeal turned down, this time finding the edge of skipper Bidgood’s bat onto his forearm and ballooning to first slip, only for the decision to be turned down as the umpire shrugged his shoulders.  Bidgood eventually perished, run out by an Eyres/Paddington/Qureshi combo, but not before he spanked Hammond to all parts, including two sixes, to leave the big man with 4-68 off 9.4 overs.
Lilley’s chase got off to a rocky start, Ken Hammond holing out for just two.  Tomsett and Taz Qureshi then made amends with a pulsating stand of 47, with Qureshi hitting 3 fours and a six in a cameo 25.  Ashby and Tomsett then took the score to 81, before the skipper was caught, swatting at the spinner Bidgood for 12.  Brad Tompkins and Tomsett continued, but Tomsett became the second victim to be bogged down by Bidgood, and he too was caught for 35.  Tompkins and Horner couldn’t get either off spinner Bidgood or the veteran Alan Howe away and Lilley lost ground on their target of 152 for victory.  Horner eventually died for the cause, caught off that man Bidgood for 7, with Lilley 104-5 with four overs remaining, seemingly hopeless.  In stepped Gareth Tompkins and he and his brother almost dragged Lilley home.  Brad fell for 13 and Steve Eyres perished for 6, but GT at the other end was in phenomenal form, belting 24 not out from just eight deliveries, including two sixes.  GT managed to get Lilley to requiring seven runs from two balls, but he could only scramble a single from the penultimate ball, leaving Philo Clarke needing to hit the final ball for six to win.  He got a single, sending the match to a draw – Lilley’s first of the season.
An electric finish to a hard fought game – too hard at some points.  Proof though that ‘time’ games can be exciting.  Hard luck on GT, who bowled the best he has all year and got nothing for it thanks to some ropey catching and batted brilliantly at the end.  It wasn’t to be though.

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