Lilley, 67 – 7 (22.3 overs) beat Therfield & Kelshall, 63 all out (29.1 overs) by 7 wickets.
Lilley came away from far flung Therfield with their fourth league win of the season thanks to an astonishing bowling display followed by a just good enough batting effort.
With work, a wedding, holidays and Wembley trips accounting for a number of regular top 6 batsmen Lilley went into the game with what skipper Mark Scanlan described as a bowl first team. Thankfully he duly won the toss and put Therfield into to bat. If this was to prove a good decision electing to open the bowling with wily veterans James Ashby and Marcus Chalkley was a masterstroke as the experienced pair bowled exemplary spells of line and length with just enough new ball swing and bounce to make life very difficult for the batsmen.
Therfield opener Nath was first to go mistakenly thinking that attack was the best form of defense only to pick the safe hands of Taz at mid on. None of the batsmen could break the shackles and the run rate crawled along at less than 2 an over while wickets fell regularly – Taz taking another excellent catch, diving forward this time, to give Ashby a wicket before Therfield number 3 Holmes popped one up off Chalkey that was held by Stephen Eyres at short cover. A fairly simple catch made more nerve-wracking by the fear in his eyes due it being his first match for a year! Chalkley then promptly bowled the next batsmen for a duck in the same over. A fifth wicket, and a fourth for Chalkley, during the opening exchanges came when Ashby held on well to a high one at slip and Therfield were in dire trouble at 26 – 5 off 16 overs. Ashby finishing with figures of 8 – 5- 10 – 1 and Chalkley 8 – 2 – 12 – 4. It could have been even worse for Therfield had keeper Scanlan not spilled three chances behind the stumps with another couple going close to fielders but not held.
If the batting side breathed a sigh of relief as the two old stagers finished their spells the feeling was soon over as debutant 17 yr old Daniel Ismail and 16 yr old Jermaine Hylton (whose combined ages didn’t add up to even one of the opening bowlers!) both overcame rusty first overs to keep up the pressure with good tight bowling. It was the extra pace of Ismail that caused the biggest problems though as three batsmen were clean bowled and Scanlan finally held on to one behind the stumps to give the teenager figures of 6 – 1 – 13 – 4. Ejaz replaced Hylton and his deceptively nippy bowling soon accounted for the number 11 Harper. Therfield were all out for only 63 in 29.1 overs.
Tea wasn’t ready so the Lilley batsman padded up and openers Ashby and debutant Harry Qureshi strode to the middle with a small target to reach but also with the suspicion that the batting line up was quite fragile. Ashby saw out a watchful maiden in the first over and then Qureshi took to the second as if there only 5 rather 50 overs to chase down the target. He aimed for the moon with the first two deliveries and after skewing a couple of runs off the first he was caught in the deep second ball and the nerves started jangling among the Lilley batsmen. Not least for Eyres who was at number 3 and hadn’t batted for over a year. Things looked even worse for Lilley a couple of overs later when Ashby was bowled off bat and both pads for just 5. Bash Ali joined Eyres at the crease and they defended well against some tight bowling but the scoreboard was still on only 7 when Bash in his first attacking stroke of intent was brilliantly caught one handed by mid off. At 7 for 3 even the target of 64 was starting to seem a long way off. Thankfully Eyres played himself in and started to cash in against the weaker of the opening bowlers, helping himself to some runs before tea was taken 10 overs into the Lilley chase with the score at 20 – 3.
After tea Eyres continued to play well with some particularly strong shots of the back foot before falling, bowled by a surprisingly full delivery. His score of 22 however was to be the top score of the match and had given the run chase some much-needed impetus. Chalkley was hanging around well at the other end and nurdling the occasion single here and there whilst wickets continued to fall around him – Ismail came and went for 4 and two balls later Scanlan played the most nothing shot possible to be bowled off his legs for a duck. Suddenly Lilley found themselves at 41 – 6 and nerves were jangling again.
Thankfully Taz brought some calm to the crease and together with Chalkley started to knock off the runs required. Chalkley fell for a slow but important 11 with only 5 more needed to win and despite trying to hit the leather off everything and mostly missing, the incoming Ejaz stayed with Taz and they saw Lilley home for a tense but very satisfying three wicket win.
If we win our last two league games, starting this week at Rosslyn, Lilley can finish the league season with more wins than defeats. Come on lads!