We’ve had a visiting fan volunteer for the Guest Reporter role on Sunday. Phil Hamnett actually travelled to Old Trafford to watch us in the Lancashire Cup – he’s a closet fan!
It was a glorious Bank Holiday Sunday as Middleton made the treck over the Grain Road for their first visit to Lowerhouse for a Lancs League match. The teams have met before in LKO matches in 1997 and 2005. The only survivors from those matches were Bleazard and from the latter match Cottam, Finch and Captain Heaps. This consequently gave Lowerhouse considerable experience compared to the Middletonians whose average age was 22.
Middleton Captain George Walker won the toss and elected to bat in ideal conditions with the temperatures rising. The Middleton openers Walker and Harry Gee were both men in form with Walker having amassed over a hundred runs in the League and Gee hitting 73 in a match winning performance against East Lancs the previous day.
Indeed the Worsley Cup win was the Moonrakers first win of the season following defeat to Norden and Clitheroe in previous weeks.
Gee didn’t last long as he was bowled by Joey Hawke and was soon followed by 17 year old James Tierney again another victim to Hawke. This meant that Captain Walker and Bury based Pro Chris Williams had to rebuild the Middleton innings and they both gradually made their way to 31. Joe Martin who had been looking quality behind the sticks did a smart piece of stumping and Walker was given out in what was a very close decision. Frankie Haasbroek had now replaced the wicketless Toquir Hussain and he began to cause damage with the wicket of Walker.
Haasbroek has shortened his run-up to great effect and was now bowling in tandem with Paddy Martin.
Haasbroek soon followed this with the wickets of youngster Rhys Tierney and the danger man Grant Jones who he claimed LBW. This was a turning point as Jones was returning for his first game this year following his 900 plus runs last year.
Pro Williams soon followed as Haasbroeks fourth victim and Middleton were in trouble at 96-6.
The tail didn’t wag with only Ajaiz Shaw putting up any resistance with an unbeaten 15 leaving Middleton all out for 124. Frankie ended up with 5-41, Joey got the first two, and Paddy and Ocky got one apiece, with one run out.
Middleton were hoping for another sensational spell from young Tom Rutter who had Clitheroe in all sorts of trouble with his five early wickets the week before. Sure enough his medium paced swingers claimed Joey Hawke before Pro Ocky Erasmus steadied the ship and together with skipper Ben Heap took the score to 47 before Ben was clean bowled by Moonrakers Pro Williams.
This brought Frankie Haasbroek to the wicket and together with Ockie calmly saw the House home without further loss and with 27 overs to spare. Sixteen boundaries between them and this little part of South Africa in Lancashire is a formidable partnership. They defended the good balls and punished anything adrift in a display of quality batting.
Midd Captain Walker used five bowlers to no avail, with only one real chance offered between the pair.
Clitheroe will be looking over their shoulders at the likes of House, Walsden and Darwen amongst others. I expect House to be in the top four.
They have an experienced team, a good following (750 followed them to Old Trafford last year) and a top social media department which serves to complement everything on the pitch. A well run club from top to bottom in contrast to what is becoming tough times for local cricket in general.