Lilley’s first match of the season was against Offley in the Mansfield Trophy which Lilley dubiously hold. The day started off with a meet at the Lilley pavilion to unveil a commemorative bench for John and Sonia Hopkins who both sadly passed away within the last 6 months. John and Sonia were great supporters of the Club who always came to support the team. They will be sadly missed.
At Offley, skipper Jason Kruger called “tails” as “tails never fails” apparently but unfortunately it landed on heads and Lilley were asked to bowl first. Hopefully this won’t be the norm for the rest of the season. As Lilley took to the field the weather took a turn for the worse as it started to hail which set the weather tone for the whole afternoon with on and off rain showers, hail and sleet. James Ashby commented on “being the coldest he has ever been on a cricket field”. Unfortunately that’s what you get when you play in mid-April Mr Fixture Secretary.
In the field, Lilley started off well with James Ashby rolling back the years to bowl the first over of the season which was followed up by a venomous spell by Khurram Khan. James was unlucky not to take a wicket during his 5 overs with inside edges just missing the stumps or balls just not going to hand. Khurram was slightly luckier taking a wicket early on. Unfortunately even though bowling was fairly tight, Offley were managing just over 5 runs an over. The introduction of Nick Lester put pay to that. With his slow out swingers (or “dibbly dobblers” according to Steve Perry) the batsmen just couldn’t get him away and the frustration started to show. With Taz Qureshi bowling at the other end, Lilley managed to claw back two wickets.
The introduction of Dan McLaughlin, now nicknamed “the human sieve” due to his earlier fielding blunders, in the 27th over could have been construed as a gamble since Dan McLaughlin has been struggling with a broken hand for the last 3 months. This however seemed to only correct his bowling action as he managed to bowl the straightest he has done in a long while to take 2 wickets for 24. In doing so taking an early lead in the wickets haul. Mik Carman also bowled 4 overs and can only be described as the Jonathan Trott of the bowling world keeping the batsmen waiting to be bowled at. Mik was very unlucky not to take any wickets during his spell with some great deliveries just missing the outside edge and the stumps. Danny Mills made a great comeback behind the stumps showing great athleticism and a spectacular dive with the ball just out of reach.
The day out in the field wouldn’t have been complete without the comedy moments caused by the weather as we had Bambi on ice by James Ashby trying to field the ball on the boundary and Dan McLaughlin doing an impression of Monty Panesar with the ball going straight through him on more than one occasion. Despite this, it was a great effort by the Lilley lads in hazardous weather and showed great spirit in limiting Offley to 171. At one stage it really did look as if they were going to score over 200!
After a quick squirt of de-icer during the tea break, Lilley set about chasing down 172 to win. It was a very getable score and a great opening partnership of 53 between James Ashby (19) and Danny Mills (33) gave Lilley a strong base to work on. James provided another comedy moment with a (somewhat unnecessary) dive to make sure he wasn’t run out. As you can see from the picture it was great conditions for sliding. James went out LBW soon after and unfortunately Danny Mills soon followed with a chip back to the bowler leaving Lilley on 55 for 2. A recovery was needed by Dan McLaughlin and Tim Perry but subsequently Dan went out following an athletic catch for 1.
From this point on there was little of interest as batsmen struggle to adapt to the slow, wet conditions. Wickets fell at regular intervals from then on: Perry (caught for 8), Collinson (bowled for 5), Paddington (bowled for 7), Kruger (caught for 5), Lester (run out for 0), Qureshi (bowled for 11) and Khan (caught for 12).
Unfortunately Mik was stranded at the other end for 0 without facing a ball. The last 8 batsmen falling for 53 runs! More practice is needed in these conditions (so get yourselves down to Club Night on Thursday) and hopefully the weather will improve before the beginning of the league season.
Overall it was a competent start from Lilley in awful conditions. On to Hexton next Sunday for an improved performance.