On a near perfect day for cricket, with the Geoff Banks-Smith Memorial ground looking at its most splendid, Lilley got their first win of the 2015 league campaign and Mark Scanlan’s first win as captain. Whilst there are not many more pleasant places to be on such a sunny Sunday afternoon those making the journey up the A1 from Rosslyn will have gone home with little in the way of good memories from the cricket itself after Lilley recorded a thumping 185 run win.
Amidst the pre-match preparations there was much debate as to whether it was a bat first day due to the dry, sunny conditions or a chance to bowl first as it was the first time the wicket had been used this season. In the end the debate was immaterial as Rosslyn won a delayed toss and chose to bowl first, leaving Lilley with the first bat on a dry, straw-coloured but untested pitch. Regular openers Ashby and Tompkins strode out to the middle with intent only to be left waiting for the Rosslyn fielders to amble their way out, making a game that was already starting late due to road closures and trouble finding the ground take a few more minutes to get going. It was theme that was to run through the innings, as Rosslyn’s insistent, but largely ineffectual, tinkering with the field meant they took over three hours to bowl 40 overs.
The batting by contrast was positive and effective throughout as the openers ensured Lilley got off to a bright start – both Ashby and Tompkins punishing inconsistent bowling from Rosslyn’s opening pair. Those on the sideline were settling down to enjoy what looked like it would be a sizeable opening stand only to be left surprised as Ashby, who had looked in fine touch reaching 11, feather an edge from one of the few good balls through to the keeper who held on to the catch to make it 36/1 after 6 overs. Ashby walked amidst the appeals, though umpire Carman later confirmed he would have given it not out as he hadn’t heard or seen the nick. The spirit of cricket is alive and well at Lilley.
The returning Ali joined Tompkins at the crease and a couple of thumping fours from the new batsman plus regular boundaries at the other end ensured the run rate remained high. Ali, however didn’t last long being bowled for 12 and Lilley were 65/2 off 12. Tompkins continued along nicely only to be cursed by skipper Scanlan asking the scorer how much he was on – the answer was 47 and he was duly bowled in the same over without adding to that score. Scanlan joined McLaughlin at the crease and they kept the score ticking over to take Lilley to a promising 109/3 off 19 at a drinks break taken early to look for the ball. Despite being dropped on 0 MacLaughlin looked in good form until run out for 34 thanks to a piece of shoddy calling from his partner and better than expected fielding. The silver lining to this was that it brought Khurram Khan to the crease where he stayed until the end of the innings for a quite superb unbeaten 74.
Khan and Scanlan kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely with plenty of singles punctuated with the occasional boundary – including a rare six for Scanlan prompting calls of ‘he’s got a plastic bat’ from the side. The right / left hand combination proved a thorn in Rosslyn’s side as they seemed to tire of changing the field and bowlers couldn’t settle with their line. With the score continuing to move along at almost 6 an over the returning opening bowler bowled Scanlan for 24.
Kendall joined Khan at the crease and got his run tally for the season underway briefly before being caught behind top edging a hook shot for 2. Ejaz also came and went quickly before Carman joined Khan at the crease and dispatched some typically brutal shots in a cameo that increased the scoring rate beyond 6 and took Lilley closer to batting out their 40 overs for the first time this season. Carman was out and then Bash joined Khan at the crease for the last few overs, rotating the strike and allowing Khan to continue to hit the boundaries. The score finished at 270/8 – a fantastic effort with plenty of contributions on a pitch that played well despite earlier uncertainties.
Given it had taken until after 5:30pm for Rosslyn to bowl their overs it was agreed to make tea a quick affair and so the usually wonderful tea was enjoyed at pace and the teams were back in the middle for the second innings. Could Rosslyn mount a challenge to this large total? In short, the answer was no.
Lilley opened with right arm / left arm opening bowlers Khan and Ahmad and Rosslyn were soon in trouble due to some excellent bowling backed up with eager, tight fielding. Khan picked up the first wicket bowling the opening batsman and also picked up the second with MacLaughlin snaffling a catch at short third man. Ahmad struggled a little with his radar but still picked up three wickets, including two in two balls, in his six over spell.
By the time the opening bowlers were taken off after 6 overs each the score was 25/5 and the game was effectively over as a contest. This provided an opportunity for some players who haven’t bowled much during the early season matches to get a few overs under their belts. Bash replaced Khan and promptly picked up a wicket as Ashby clung on at slip to a sharp chance. Bash also managed to complete a run out, that was even shoddier than the one in Lilley’s innings, during his 3 over burst! The off spin of Ali replaced Ahmad and after finding his length and some rhythm a nicely controlled spell of bowling, with the reward of a wicket caught by Scanlan square on the leg side, followed. Ejaz took over from Bash and bowled 3 eventful overs that had Carman diving and stretching behind the stumps but also include a wicket – clean bowling a surprised batman!
By this point the sun was going down behind the trees and it was time to finish off the innings. Richie Kendall almost managed it when turning his arm over for the first time in about 5 years and bowling a very tidy over. However it took MacLaughlin just one ball to clean bowl the number 11 and finish the Rosslyn innings on 85 all out after 25 overs.
Victory couldn’t have been more emphatic and the post-match drinks were enjoyed all the more courtesy of a free jug from the landlord to celebrate both the win and the pub becoming a freehold, free from the clutches of Greene King. All in all a good end to an excellent day’s cricket for Lilley, well played chaps. – MS