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Whaley Bridge 2nd XI v Birch Vale 2nd XI (away) Saturday 29th August 2015

posted 31 Aug 2015, 07:02 by Mike Madden
The return fixture with Birch Vale at Whaley Bridge was a real thriller earlier in the season, and the rematch lived up to expectations. I awoke on the morning of the game, somewhat disappointed that my search for an extra man via text message had been in vain, but there were still plenty of options. Then another text came through, Lee Jones couldn't play and Reuben was in the firsts. I was now looking for two players, which soon became three as Oli Prior was ill. This was compounded by the early start, meaning less time to find replacements, and when all of our promising under 14s were unavailable it was time for a cunning plan. I rang TR Wild, and he couldn't play as he was actually our umpire with Nick Latham. Not any more. He was quickly drafted in, as was our scorer Tom Heyes, subject to the correct paperwork being available for the umpires. Several more messages went around in vain for number 11, the last being Nigel Morten at well past 12 o clock, less than an hour to start time. We did have an eleventh player already in the car, its just that Zac didn't know it yet. More refusals by text en route meant that Zac was playing, again subject to the inevitable paperwork, but it turned out that Birch were also giving opportunities to some of their younger members, and we were confident of a friendly yet competitive game. We won the toss and elected to bat, mainly because we had one senior bowler, plus Ben Stones. There was also Harry Bold, but he had had just one spell all season. So, we needed to bat for a long time, and when Ben was bowled for 0, shortly followed by Ivan Heathcote giving a return catch for 0, we were in a spot of bother. A recent game saw Offerton bowled out for just 38 by Compstall. We were 10 for 2 and staring into the abyss. However, we are nothing if not resilient, and Harry Bold and Marc Thompson set about mustering a target. Tommo was bowled for 25, but by then we had cruised to 66. There is always something of a collapse on the cards, and here it was precipitated by Rob Hill being caught for 1 and Jack Kitchin caught for a golden duck. Russ Wild played very unlike the Russ Wild of yesteryear, smashing the ball off the square with great regularity. He was eventually stumped for 13, having seen us just about scrape a batting point. Harry brought up a well deserved 50, eventually falling to a catch for 68. Tom Heyes was nervous at first, but he nudged a single and kept the captain company for some time before being trapped lbw for 1. The third batting point was achieved with some lusty blows. The captain dealt in sixes whilst Colin Wild stuck with fours. The captain was stumped for 30, bringing Zac Madden to the middle with the score on 167. He stuck around as Colin claimed our fourth batting point, and as Birch went after their fifth bowling point, Zac clipped the last ball off his legs for 4. That was his only scoring shot as he walked off unbeaten, accompanied by Colin who was not out 20. The score of 180 for 9 was a challenging one, but there was still the issue of the 33 overs we needed to find once Colin's spell was over.

Zac was not really in the mood to field, and after six overs his mum took him home, so we were down to 10 men. Stonesy felt ill at tea, but he opened at the opposite end to Colin. Unfortunately, just over three overs into his spell, he felt ill again and had to leave the field. Birch sportingly gave us a sub as Ben went off to hospital, and the skipper turned to TR Wild to finish his over. You could almost hear the creaks as TR turned his arm over, and the Birch openers swung and swished without much success. With little time to recalculate, Russ was given another over, then another, and more. Colin was coming to the end of his opening spell, but he found inspiration and a wicket clean bowled. Remarkably, Russ then got in on the act as the other opener fell to a simple catch by Harry Bold. Where were the demons coming from? Russ's next over saw him bowl a maiden to the wily and explosive David Platt. Ivan Heathcote has been practicing his finger spin, and although it was a surprise for him to be second change, he lived up to the task, bowling 5 reasonable overs before he was replaced by Tom Heyes. Russ continued to the end of his 11.5 over spell, finishing withe a creditable 1 for 53. Harry Bold replaced him, and although he was a little expensive we persevered with his twirlers. At the other end Tom Heyes bowled three very tidy overs for just 8. Ivan came back and had lost some of his control, but we still had Colin to rely on. Unfortunately Birch still had Mr Platt, and he took full advantage of Harry's bowling, giving Colin's the respect it deserved. He timed his run to perfection, and saw Birch home for the loss of just 2 wickets with 1 over to spare. Birch deserved their triumph, but Whaley played full part in a great contest. News of Ben was worrying, but he has since recovered and is feeling much better.