By Paul Hargreaves
One of the most dramatic and memorable games played at Lowerhouse in recent years was the Worsley Cup semi-final versus Enfield. Since the 1980 Final Lowerhouse had frankly stunk it up in Cup matches. Indeed their only semi-final appearance had been 2 years earlier at Church. They squandered winning the toss on a beautiful sunny day that surely called for batting first. Inserted Church had a quiet first 2 overs and were all out before the last 2, but in between had racked up 325 runs, with Aussie pro’ Mark Higgs scoring 163 of them. In the face of adversity ‘House bowed out tamely. They were 138 all out with only Gavin Shields’s 63 showing some fight.
So to 2004, and for once a small gap between Semi-final appearances although the downside was that many were still in therapy from 2002. In 2004, Lowerhouse won home games versus Burnley and Colne and were rewarded with another game at Liverpool Rd against Enfield. With Lowerhouse again deciding to bowl first and Enfield getting over 300, it looked like deja vu all over again and another visit to the doctor’s. Andy Barker, part of that famous family associated with the Dill Hall Lane side, scored a solid 50, but the star of the show was visiting pro’ Alvaro Petersen with 148. He hit 10 mighty sixes most of which sailed over my head into the little park off Liverpool Rd.
Petersen has in recent years received belated recognition from the South African National team but was less famous then. Crucially Joe Beneduce induced a caught and bowled off Petersen to keep ‘House with at least a slim chance. At about half-way Lowerhouse were 90-odd for 3 with pro’ Peter Fulton out for 32. I well remember Radio Lancashire commentator Mark Briggs, who was at the other semi at Bentgate, asking for a Liverpool Rd update.
When told Lowerhouse were 96–3 chasing 311, he said how disappointed everybody at the Lowerhouse Club must be as they tried to expunge memories of 2002. He added that if pro’ Fulton was still at the crease ‘House might still have a squeak. He wasn’t!
What does give a chasing team a chance are the Cup rules that at least 5 bowlers must be used and weaker bowlers targeted. In Enfield’s Worsley Cup wins of 1989 and 1991, their brilliant professionals Gavin Larsen and Linden Joseph respectively, had been able to bowl the entire innings, but the bowling rules had been amended. The game began to liven up as Bleazard(107) and his able lieutenant Cottam(54) took a ‘muck or nettles’ approach which saw 155 put on for the fourth wicket. Without the help of twitter Mark Briggs concluded a massive Fulton score when he heard the updated score of 255–5.
As much as Blez and Charlie had changed the pattern of the game it had to be unsung cameos to get to the finishing post. Chris Benbow got a typically hard hit 21 and Joe Beneduce was there at the end with 24. Even Keith Barker jnr. on his way to Warwickshire couldn’t stop the avalanche as victory was gained with a single ball to spare. The winning hit caused pandemonium to break out and the Clubhouse steps were rocking as our heroes left the field. Enfield were understandably inconsolable but had played their part in an immortal match.
A few weeks later it was another home Cup game as Haslingden visited for the Final. That was quite a game too and I’m sure somebody will tell it in this feature. If you don’t want to know the score look away now. Haslingden 231 all out. (B.Knowles 88, S.Dearden 76,P.Fulton 3–24, B.Heap 2–17) Destiny 235–4 (C.Bleazard 101 not out, C.Cottam 82)