2010: Games to remember – Paul Hargreaves
Somebody asked me a few days ago about my e-mail/twitter address of ‘houseman 264’ and where it comes from. Well the houseman bit is fairly obvious but the 264 maybe needs an explanation. Some people put 1 after their name to emphasise their singularity, or possibly their superiority to others with that name. Good luck though to a John Smith trying to get j.smith1 registered! Many people use the year of their birth. A friend of mine uses ’62 because he was born in the year when his beloved Burnley F.C. last played in a F.A. Cup Final.Don’t think he remembers much about it! Judging on the sense and quality of what they write I’m sure some use a number corresponding to their operational brain cells. Obviously that can’t be my story because 264 would be a gross exaggeration. The ‘264’ relates to a match played on our Liverpool Rd. ground in 2010 and it was very much a game to remember.
The game was against one of our keenest foes Haslingden and took place on July 3rd. It was a beautiful mid-summer day and pre-match gossip spoke of a beautiful and hard batting track. It was no surprise, therefore, when Hassy asked for first use of it on winning the toss. Lowerhouse struck early when Chris Read became a victim of Jonathan Finch. Read was one of a trio of ex-Ramsbottom players who’d moved up the Valley to Bentgate. Further wickets, though, became hard to come by and opener Mohsin Imtiaz scored a well batted 60 before being caught and bowled by Scott Hope. Pro’ Phil Hayes then dominated proceedings with a fine 102 not out. The stylish left-hander had seemed a ‘cheap’ option as professional on his appointment but looked a million dollars on this day. Hayes allowed his batting partners to take on the attacking role and Steve Dearden(25) and Lee Ingham(37) did just that. Haslingden’s 50 overs had yielded 263-6. Finch was the ‘House’s most successful bowler but even his 4 wickets had cost over a run a ball over his 12 overs.
At half-time Lowerhouse were facing a daunting task with 264 needed for an unlikely victory. In the old days of ‘time’ cricket a team had the option of dead batting for a draw but not everything was better then and Lowerhouse had to show a positive approach. This they did and Finch showed his worth as an all-rounder by getting an excellent half-century. I wasn’t sure given the target whether opening with Jonny Whitehead was the right choice, with him still being short of his sixteenth birthday. Not for the first or last time I was proved wrong and he scored 23, not letting anybody down. Lowerhouse pro’ Aaron Heal had gone wicket-less but now came to the party. He made a match winning 92 before being run-out. Heal had a largely disappointing season with the bat , with this and the late-season hurrah of a big hundred at Colne, his only highlights. Chris Bleazard, always one to relish a run chase, hit a typically hard hit 45 as the ‘house kept up with the tough asking rate. Lowerhouse did get the hiccups as ‘Dasher’ Dearden clean bowled Heap and Cottam, both for ducks. It became up to young Fergus Bailey and Joe Beneduce to make sure the groundwork wasn’t in vain. This they did and victory was earned with just 4 balls to spare. It had been a great and entertaining day’s cricket and the sweetest of victories for the home team. Sometimes high-scoring games lead to one-sided matches but this hadn’t been the case in this game.I think 264 is the highest target chased and attained by Lowerhouse in a Lancashire League fixture.The upshot was a couple of weeks later I was setting up a new e-mail account and I thought it fitting to become ‘houseman264’ to honour the efforts of our lads on that July Saturday.
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