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Saturday 22nd June v Birch Vale (away)

posted 26 Jun 2013, 12:57 by Mike Madden
It was our first trip to Birch Vale for many years, with the halcyon days of Birch a distant memory as they suffered relegation to the fourth division. However, their players still command respect, and it was a couple of outstanding individuals and an unfortunate toss that settled this game. At 1.15 none of the Birch players were changed, and there was no sign of the umpire, but we tossed up anyway. On a green, drying wicket it was a good toss to win, and Birch looked happy when it came down in ther favour. Unsurprisingly we were asked to bat, and as Harry and myself sat with pads on we noticed, oddly, that the Birch players had still not got changed. This could have been because the umpire was stuck in New Mills carnival, it could have been because the pitch looked rather damp for a prompt start, or it could have been because they barely had enough players to start the game. A bus pulled up, the umpire strode out, and the game got under way with a lone leg side fielder and a sparse off side. Gradually the Birch numbers swelled, but with a menacing opening pair and a favourable pitch they didn't really need anyone else. The captain went for 4, then Harry went for 10, so at 25 for 2 we were struggling. Sam Slack and Peter Crowley started to build a partnership, but Slacky was caught for 19 and our struggles began again. Ivan never looked comfortable and he went for 2, then Gibbo patently failed to justify going up the order as he matched Ivan's score. Ole Madden showed a solid technique as he took full advantage of the empty legside, eventually being bowled for 14, and in a time of crisis we were relieved to have the experience of club chairman TR Wild at number 8. Russ dealy only in boundaries, a very un Russ like innings, though he did try to scamper away from the slow bowling of Ashley Sharp, running the excellent Peter Crowley out for 27. Ethan Williams and Danny Burt offered a little resistance but ended with two ducks, whilst Fid hit some lusty blows before being trapped lbw for 10. Russ was not out 16, and we closed the innnings on a meagre 111 all out. Tea was a quiet affair, but a magnificent array of provisions were provided, and they were certainly a big improvement on the hirsute cherry scones from days gone by.

The second innings was a whirlwind affair. Fid bowled 5 overs for 23, including a number of frustrating edges between slip and gully. No matter how hard myself and TR tried to prevent it, the combined 100 plus years of experience could not stop third man being called upon regularly. Peter Crowley bowled three overs for 11, whilst Gibbo showed no sign of a breakthrough with three overs for 15. Ivan looked in need of a run up coach as he tried in vain from both sides of the wicket, though his one over for 14 was slightly more economic than Danny Burt's debut over that cost 18. Danny and Ivan will definitely have better days, and I am encouraged that neither were put off by this one sided defeat. Ethan finally broke the stumps, and his two overs 1 for 10 was definitely the best of the Whaley attack. Sam Slack was given one over for 11, and hopefully net practice will improve this once dangerous bowler, though the last word was left to Russ Wild. Russ bowled five overs for 9 runs, and we were done and dusted just after 5pm.
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