LILLEY (151-8, Qureshi 57 not out) drew with Great Gaddesden (152 all out, Hammond 6-36)

Whatever happened in today’s game, it couldn’t top the drama of last week’s win at Kempston, could it?  Oh yes it could.
Lilley won the toss and elected to field on a fair looking track at a predictably overcast Bridens Camp.  Perry and Ashby worked well with the new ball, finding the edge if not the fielders capable of catching the ball!  TP himself spilled a chance at third slip off the skipper early on, as GG struggled to live with Ashby and Perry’s pace and nip with the new ball.  Ashby made the first breakthrough, an lbw decision going his way from a full length in-swinger.  Perry too broke through shortly after, making amends for his drop by having the same batsman caught by Paddington at short square leg via a top edge into his helmet.
The father and son combo of Alan Henry and AJ Henry then began to wrestle the game from Lilley with a series of powerful strokes.  Ken Hammond’s introduction to the fray signalled a change in the game and AJ was bowled shortly after by a fine delivery from the big man.  Henry senior continued and looked ominously in form and had reached 64 when he powered a Philo Clarke delivery through mid wicket, only to find Chris Horner and a fantastic catch at full pelt.
Hammond and Clarke continued to scythe their way through the order, with Hammond nipping the ball in to the right handers and reaping the rewards.  By the time the home side were skittled for 152, Hammond had notched 6-36 in 15.2 overs, his first five wicket haul since returning from Canada.
Chasing 153 was always going to be tricky against a side which Lilley haven’t beaten for a decade.Tomsett and Chris Horner soon found out about GG’s
tight bowling as runs were hard to come by early doors.  Horner, centurion in his only other Lilley outing of the year, was frustrated and soon mis-hit to cover for 2.  Perry joined Tomsett and the pair seemed to steady the ship, however the opener too was soon to run out of patience and he was caught at gulley for 17.  TP and Brad Tompkins took the score past 50, but were struggling to get the ball away.  Perry was caught trying to up the run rate, Ashby followed leg before and Brad Tompkins and Phil Horner (run out) followed later as Lilley slipped from 51-2 to 83-6.
Again, things were not looking rosy for Lilley but again Philo Clarke strolled out to the crease to join Taz Qureshi.  What followed was beautiful and almost, almost took Lilley to victory.
Qureshi had already been stroking the ball around come Clarke’s arrival and was ticking nicely.  Philo, dogged by a heel injury, got flowing and the runs began to come.  GG’s response was to bring their new ball bowler back into the attack.  His first delivery prompted a jumping jab down on the ball by Clarke, to which the home Captain scoffed “Ahh…rabbit in headlights springs to mind!”.  Clarke responded by spanking the next delivery for four straight back over the bowlers head.  Touché.
And so it continued.  Qureshi by this time was seeing it like a football and was hammering the home attacks slow bowlers and their spread fields.  A succession of fine strokes all around the wicket, together with a slice of luck enabled Taz to register his second half century of the season as Lilley’s run chase continued.
The over before the end and Lilley needed something big.  With that in mind, Phil danced down the track to smack spinner Ambrose over his head.  He connected, but with Gill out on the long on boundary he looked doomed as the ball dropped.  Gill took a comfortable catch on the boundary, but his momentum carried him backwards and over the boundary line to give Clarke a second life – and six runs, much to the elation of another fantastic Lilley following.
Into the last over and Lilley needed seven runs to win, with Clarke and Qureshi in.  Philo (23) tried to angle the first ball backward of square and only managed to top edge the ball to the home wicketkeeper, to leave five balls to score seven runs.  Joel Mellor, last weeks hero, arrived at the crease, but he didn’t connect with the first two deliveries.  He managed a single from the next but Taz had just two balls to get six runs.  He managed two from the fifth ball and two from the last as GG posted all their men back on the boundary to save the draw.  Qureshi finished 57 not out.
So Lilley missed out on a win by just 2 runs, but what a great finish again.  Top turn out again from the Lilley fan club, Lilley unbeaten in four games now.  On to Totternhoe next week for more fun and frolics!

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