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Stevenage II 102-1, 24.2 overs beat Lilley 101-9, 40 overs by nine wickets
The deathly flat track of Ditchmore Lane, home of Stevenage CC, has not been a happy hunting ground for Lilley and so it would prove again this weekend as the visitors were soundly thumped by mid table Stevenage II.
Lilley were ravaged by unavailability of varying merits, the limpest of which came from last year’s leading run scorer Dan McLaughlin who was absent at a 1 year old’s birthday party! The gaps in Lilley’s side were just about plugged, albeit with the help of specialist boundary walker and ball finder Steve Perry and a welcome first game of the season for Brad Tompkins.
Another of the dubious absentees, skipper Jason Kruger, was replaced at the helm by Vice Captain Tim Perry. TP broke the habit of a lifetime and called ‘heads’ and was delighted to see tails fail once again. Lilley chose to bat, a fairly irrelevant matter as the home Captain Barton said he’d have bowled anyway.
Mills and Ashby were restored as opening pair for Lilley, but it was a partnership that would only last six balls. Sajit gave Ashby a torrid time with pace and late in-swing, and finished an impressive opening over by bowling the former skipper off his pads. Khurrum Khan managed just a single before playing all around one from Burns and was trapped leg before, Lilley crumbling to 5 for 2 inside 4 overs.
Tim Perry and Mills then set about repairing the damage with an incredibly turgid but necessary partnership in the face of some tight seam bowling on a two paced pitch. The eventual change in bowling came to relieve the pressure, or so Lilley thought, when donkey drop bowler Barton was introduced into the attack. Perry and Mills initially feasted on some fairly average offerings, but Barton soon found his length and the partnership ended having put on 59 when Perry (29) played forward to a straight one, missed it and was trapped leg before on the back leg.
Brad Tompkins, picking up a bat for the first time in a year, made just seven before playing back to Barton and being trapped in front to become Lilley’s third LBW victim and Atif Hussain was cleaned up by the returning Sajit soon after for a duck, Lilley now 77-5.
Dan Mills got himself in a horrible tangle with slow bowler Barton, surviving a stumping chance, a play and miss, a catch chance before finally becoming Lilley’s fourth LBW of the game when trapped in front for a gritty 22.
Paddington was bowled playing a half hearted prod at a Barton straight one, Lilley losing a third wicket with the score on 77, Barton slow, straight, Barker-esque donkey drops some how giving him 4-20! Not unlike the low scorer at Datchworth, Lilley needed Pateman and Scanlan to steer Lilley towards a respectable score and it looked as thought they’d do just that before Pateman was out miscuing, Lilley slumping to 88-8. Mik Carman was out caught moments later and with Lilley 90-9, a score under 100 and a bonus point for Stevenage looked a fair bet, with only Steve Perry to come to support Scanlan.
To their credit, both players played very well, Scanlan (12*) providing the runs and Steve Perry producing a fine rear guard action to see Lilley to 101-9 from 40 overs, barely something to bowl at but better than it might have been. You always get a bat at Lilley..
Lilley needed a storming opening spell from Khan and Ashby and Stevenage were duly made to work for every run they could muster in 16 probing overs. Ashby bowled wicket to wicket and made it difficult for Stevenage to get the ball away, Welch in particular playing and missing on over a dozen occasions, whilst Khan extracted good pace and considerable seam movement from a benign track. One of the more bizarre sights in cricket occurred when Welch edged the ball behind off Khan, and had walked ten yards and taken his gloves off when he noticed the umpire had said ‘not out’. He then duly returned to the crease having initially walked! It’s fair to say the batsman was a few sandwiches short of a picnic anyway, but it was possibly the most blatantly bad piece of disingenuous cricket ever seen. Had the game been closer and had he not been playing and missing for a living, Lilley’s protests may have been louder…
Stevenage were banking on Lilley’s bowling resources being thin, given both opening bowlers bowling through but having reached only 36-0 from 16 overs, they had somehow slipped behind the run rate as rain clouds loomed ominously above. Perry was unlucky not to make the breakthrough when Brown skied one towards long on, only for Steve Perry not to pick the ball up. Indeed poor Steve had a torrid time as the ball followed him everywhere, narrowly avoiding death and the odd chance on the way. Perry grew frustrated with Perry Senior at long on so replaced him with Ashby. Almost instantly, Brown spooned one up again to long on, Ashby making good ground, getting in perfect position before bungling the chance and letting the batter off the hook.
Stevenage celebrations were short lived when Perry struck the very next ball, dismissing Welch clean bowled – he carried on walking this time.
Lilley cheers were soon turned to beers, as Stevenage number three Ricky Justin, a Caribbean motor mouthed live wire in the field, came out and batted like a man who knew a fit barmaid was working in the bar. He made short shrift of the remaining runs as Stevenage eased to victory inside 25 overs, a Craig Paddington wide proving to be the winning run.
Lilley are very much mid table having won two and lost two now and will be looking for an improved performance this weekend in a friendly against Batchworth DP.