LILLEY 156/5 in 31.3 overs (Raja Asar 50) beat Therfield and Kelshall 155/9 in 40 overs (Harper 76, Ali 2/22, Ejaz 2/23) by 5 wickets
A day that began so drizzly the game was almost called off ended up being played mostly in sunshine and resulted in a fine Lilley win!
After a morning pitch inspection, a flurry of messages and final preparations being made in the rain the sun broke through the cloud on cue and after wining the toss Lilley skipper Scanlan sent Therfield in to bat on an under-prepared wicket that actually ended up playing the best of any home pitch this season!
Lilley opened the bowling with Khurram Khan down the hill and Dan MacLaughlin toiling away up the hill through the long, but well raked, grass. Both bowlers quickly found their groove and the differing styles complemented each other to keep the run rate down and pick up a couple of wickets. After the opening spells of 8 overs each Therfield had been restricted to 38 for 2 and Lilley were in the ascendancy. The advantage could have been even greater in the home sides favour had the old Achilles heel of dropped catches not struck again.
Matt Case and Marcus Chalkley replaced the opening pair, with Case continuing his good debut season by picking up a quick wicket leaving the batting side at 45 for 3. He lost his rhythm a little after that however and the spin of Ali Shah was introduced. Despite Ali bowling with control the next ten overs proved to be Therfield’s most productive with a 4th wicket partnership of 70 in which top scorer Ben Harper (76) was the main contributor. Ejaz came on for Chalkley, who had been unlucky to go wicketless in his 6 overs spell, and it was Ejaz who made the breakthrough in his first over. Wickets started to fall regularly after that with another for Ejaz and two for Ali, including Harper, to reward his accurate spell of spin. Jermaine Hylton came on to bowl two overs at the death and duly collected a wicket with a catch off his own bowling that he did well to hold after Ejaz tried to put him off! Lilley just missed out on a bonus point as Therfield finished 155 for 9 in their 40 overs – a total that promised to be challenging given Lilley’s batting displays in the 2016 season!
Both sides enjoyed tea as always and then skipper Scanlan and the returning Raja Asar opened the batting as the home side began the chase. After negotiating a few tight overs at the start it became apparent that there was for once little to be feared from the Lilley pitch and enough on offer from the bowlers to begin to push on. Raja in particular found his form quickly and opened up with a flurry of boundaries while Scanlan, enjoying the chance to get on the back foot, nurdled along at the other end. The fifty opening partnership was reached in the 12th over and shortly after that Raja brought up his own 50 – the first by a Lilley batsmen this season. That was as far as it went for Raja unfortunately as he was then caught on the boundary just short of another maximum. This brought Gareth Tompkins to the crease and the vice captain immediately looked busy and ensured the scoreboard was ticking over nicely.
With the score on 99 Scanlan was bowled by Goldman’s first ball for a patient 27, but the foundation of the chase had been laid. Tompkins followed for 18 soon after, bowled by Harper after becoming frustrated with the bowlers antics. However despite losing Ali and Jawad for 9 apiece the chase was straightforward from here with the experience heads of MacLaughlin (17 not out) and Chalkley (6 not out) seeing Lilley home for a comfortable 5 wicket win with 8.3 overs left.
The win leaves Lilley in mid-table but with games against the bottom three sides still to come a late-season promotion push is still a possibility.