Guest Reporter – Paul Hargreaves vs Milnrow

Many people think summer’s arrived when they see a certain flower in bloom or the call of a familiar migratory bird. Some simply think it’s here the first time the mercury passes 20. For most Lowerhouse fans, though, the season begins when their beloved team take the field for their first league match. So rather belatedly on April 22nd 2018 the ‘House went out to do battle with Lancashire League rookies, Milnrow.

Milnrow is hardly a new club, though. Having been formed in 1857 they are actually five years senior to Lowerhouse. In the same year (1892) that Lowerhouse were one of the 14 founder members of our Lancashire League; Milnrow were helping to form the Central Lancashire League.

They have much in common with the ‘House, having to struggle against bigger clubs. Both have relatively few honours although Lowerhouse have tried hard to balance that out in recent times. Older Lancashire League fans will remember one of Milnrow’s most famous pro’s. The great Australian George Tribe had 3 great seasons for Milnrow after the Second World War before starring for Rawtenstall C.C.

On arrival at the Ladyhouse ground it wasn’t difficult to pick up an air of pessimism from the members and officials of the Milnrow club. They’d lost 4 key players over the off season and were expecting a tough debut season in their adopted league. The morning’s rain cleared to allow a slightly reduced match of 44 overs per side. Lowerhouse were inserted and their innings was dominated by an imperious innings from skipper Heap. This was the form of the Ben that passed the team’s all-time record versus Great Harwood in 2017. He did survive a couple of difficult chances but deserved his good fortune. He hit ten resounding 6 hits in his 144. That many of them completely left the ground resulting in a suspension in play for a new supply of balls to be arranged.

Joe Hawke reprised the other opener’s role reminding us of a decade ago when he was a regular opening bat. He scored a solid 22 out of the 71 opening partnership which had taken 19 overs. Pro’ Erasmus joined his captain and scored an untroubled 30 before being out LBW, on his favourite reverse sweep shot. Ex-pro’ Francois Haasbroek then made 27 not out on his return to the ‘House colours. In truth, though, the innings belonged to Ben and he had the honour of becoming only the sixth Lowerhouse batter to pass 5,000 career runs for the club. His long innings ended in the last over with an understandably tired shot. Lowerhouse had amassed 252-3.

Facing such a daunting task Milnrow weren’t surprisingly found wanting. They were always behind the clock and after being 11-2 were only 50-3 in what constituted a recovery at the drinks interval. They then lost 4 wickets for just 4 runs with pro’ Hornbuckle (20) being one of them. There was some resistance from the No. 8 batsmen Aaron Brown who hit two 6’s in his top score of 23. It was the inning’s penultimate over before the bowling bonus points were secured when the Martin brothers combined to see the No. 11 stumped as he went for an old fashioned slog.  Joe Hawke with 4 wickets for 15 runs had just outdone Erasmus (3-17) to be the pick of an impressive bowling performance. Milnrow’s final total was 93 leaving them 161 runs short of their distant target.

All in all a most satisfactory start to the campaign but the lads won’t need me to tell them there’ll be tougher battles ahead.

This as been Paul Hargreaves guest reporter for Lowerhouse match reports.

We’re looking for a guest to report on a single game this year. Up for it? Email adam@lowerhousecc.com

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