LILLEY (135-9, Clarke 22*) beat Kempston Sports (132-7, G Tompkins 3-27) by 1 wicket

Philo Clarke and Joel Mellor produced an amazing 49 run ninth wicket partnership and Craig Paddington dug out five deliveries to sneak Lilley to a thrilling one wicket victory today at Cryselco Park, Kempston.
Lilley had earlier won the toss and chosen to bowl in the muggy overcast conditions which encased the ground at 2:30pm.  Perry and Ashby once again produced miserly spells, with the skipper picking up the early wicket of Grint, leg before.  Gareth Tompkins replaced TP and soon had the number three bat Kirkup, also leg before.  Hammond took over from Ashby at the tree end and was soon in the groove, picking up two clean bowled victims on his return to Kempston.
Milbury provided some resistance, but Tompkins produced a lovely rising delivery on a length which took the glove of the Kempston batsman and through to Taz Qureshi.
Brad Tompkins missed a glorious chance to remove skipper Allbones, as the Lilley batsman juggled playfully with the ball whilst the home side Captain was a metre out of his crease!  Allbones went on to register 16, before he was yorked by Tim Perry’s final ball of his spell.
Gareth Tompkins picked up one more wicket in the closing overs to finish with 3-27 from eight overs, with Hammond (8 overs 6 maidens 2 wickets for 9 runs) and Ashby (8 overs 5 maidens 1 wicket for 10 runs) also performing well.  Perry and Clarke both bowled tidily also, but without luck.
Chasing just 133 to win in front of a big Lilley following ought to have been easy.  Sadly, Lilley were 3-2 moments later, with Hammond bowled for nothing and GT following in the same fashion for two.  Brad Tompkins and Doug Tomsett then dug in and put on 38 for the fourth wicket before Doug was bowled for 16, attempting an almighty slog.  Taz was next, bowled by Taylor for 8, but not without controversy.  Having hit the medium pacer for four through square leg, Taylor spat his chewing gum at Taz.  Taz was dismissed by the same bowler shortly after and temperatures were running high..
Phil Horner, who also earlier on had had a bit of ‘needle’ with the home side umpire was next to go, bowled for a duck.  Brad Tompkins, who had grafted hard for his 19, was caught trying to force the pace and Lilley were starting to slip towards defeat.  Ashby and Perry were dismissed within an over of each other and with Lilley 79-8 chasing 133 to win, things didn’t look good.
Phil Clarke is a seasoned all-rounder and has the ability to win any game, but with the support only of Joel Mellor and Craig Paddington remaining (combined runs scored before this game in 2004: 6), Lilley’s chances were fading fast.  Joel has hardly picked up a bat this year, indeed the last time he did so was when he made a crucial error under pressure in the tight Bamville game in letting the ball roll on to his stumps at the pivotal moment.  Different, though, was this Joel Mellor.  A new steel to his play, he announced his arrival at the crease with two fours in an over, one Caribbean pull to mid wicket and one flowing drive through mid-off.  This was a different beast to the Bamville Boar, the batsman we all prefer to see in Joel.  Lilley needed 50 from the last ten overs and somehow Mellor and Clarke took Lilley to the brink with some lovely stroke-play and hard run singles and twos.  Indeed Mellor was very lucky to survive several close run run out chances, with the much quicker Clarke urging him through for tight runs.
Clarke it was though who survived a huge run out appeal in the latter stages from Simms.  Umpire Carman turned down what looked like an obvious ‘not out’ decision, but the bowler was for some reason incensed, hurling the ball down on the floor.  Perhaps a sign of nerves as the game got closer?  Either way, Carman was understandably annoyed by the accusation of cheating and confronted the bowler – happily, the situation calmed down with a few words from the home Captain Allbones.  Simms, who was bowling at the time, responded by clean bowling Mellor next ball – the last ball of his over.  That left Clarke and his new partner Paddington, to get five runs from the remaining two overs.  The plan obviously was to keep Philo on strike.  Rather irritating then when he ran a single off the first ball of the 49th over!  Five balls for Paddington to face with 4 runs needed…we could hardly watch!
But watch we did.  Watch, as Paddington dusted off his defensive technique.  Despite a chinese cut just over the stumps, Craig dug deep when the pressure was on and came good – he survived the five balls, six including a wide, leaving Philo 3 to win from the last over.  3 became 2 when Simms first ball was sent wide down the leg side, and victory was sealed by the Lilley Legend Philo when he flicked Simms through mid wicket and for four to seal victory by one wicket with five balls remaining, to send the Lilley support club into absolute ecstasy!
All in all a hard fought game, plenty of ‘bird’, and a thrilling one wicket win – I can rarely remember winning a game so satisfyingly!!  Here’s to Joel and Philo, the ninth wicket stand won the game…and spare a thought for Craig.  His contributions are limited with the bat, but he was every bit the hero today.  Hoorah!

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