Match Report versus East Lancs (away) 2015
As the new Lancashire League season got under way, being the current Champions, Lowerhouse were very much under a watchful eye from the rest of the competition to see exactly how they would react to losing two first team players in Joe Hawke and Ben Heap. The League campaign got off to the most perfect start possible with Captain Charlie Cottam winning the toss for once and asking the hosts to bat first. Fergus Bailey took over Hawk’s opening bowling responsibilities and proved that Lowerhouse have players ready to step up straight away. Following a bit of a juggling act between Joe Martin and Matthew Walker the pair finally managed to keep hold of the ball to dismiss Minhaj Bhada for just two. This could have been 2 not long after if not for a dropped catch from Walker at slip to give a lifeline to the other Bhada brother who went on to make 34. Cobus then began to settle in and with the pitch showing a bit of life he took two wickets in quick succession to dismiss Turner for 0 and his opposite number JP de Villiers for just 4, following an agricultural swipe across to the leg side, the ball wrapped him on the pads in front of the stumps giving the umpire a simple decision. Mark Lomas and Mo Bhada managed a 50 partnership to get East Lancs up to 69-3 and looking to push on before Lomas was trapped infront by Walker for 21. Three wickets then came in quick succession, Cobus had Bhada caught behind, Bailey saw to the dismissal of Paul Kelly for 0, Joe Halstead taking the catch that seemed to be in the air for an eternity and Cobus removing the East Lancs captain Mark Bolton for just 4. Another brief resistance from Riley (25) and Khan (13) came to an end when Khan found the safe hands of Lewis Marsden at long on from the bowling of Fergus. Riley then returned a simple catch to Pienaar before Nick Turner had his furniture re-arranged by Cobus to be the last man out for 12. Alex Gunn finished with 5 not out to take the champions into tea having dismissed East Lancs for 138 from 48.3 overs. Pienaar finished with figures of 15.3-6-38 picking up exactly where he left off in the 2014 season. Bailey also took 3 wickets and Walker took the other one to fall.
Following the interval the new opening pair of Joe Martin and Jonny Whitehead looked to get Lowerhouse off to a good start. This didn’t really happen as planned when Whitehead was trapped in front by Shahrukh Khan from the first ball of the second over with the score still on 0. Captain Charlie Cottam took on the responsibility of batting at number three following the departure of Ben Heap in the winter and looked to be back to his brilliant best keeping the scoreboard ticking with a confident looking Joe Martin. 29 runs later and following a terrific Joe Martin hook shot the second wicket fell when Martin (17) feathered one into the hands of first slip giving Khan his second wicket of the day. Cobus Pienaar came and went, thanks to an extraordinary catch from the home sides professional, after scoring just 1. Walker then fell for the same score after missing a straight one which cannoned into his off stump to give de Villiers his first Lancashire League wicket of the season. Patrick Martin accompanied Charlie to take the score from 37 to 82 before Cottam was teased into an expansive drive only to lift the ball straight through the East Lancs wicket keeper. Cottam fell for an important 43 to help get Lowerhouse in a position to win the game. Martin then fell in the same fashion as Walker after reaching 9 to leave Lowerhouse at 98-6. Chris Bleazard returned for his 100th(ish) season in the Lancashire League but the Lowerhouse Legend had one of his very rare failures at the crease only managing 1 run before being bowled by Bhada. At 99-7 the East Lancs players seemed in very high spirits and may have felt that a victory was just around the corner. What they didn’t account for was, as always, the strength in depth of the Lowerhouse batting order. Bailey and Josh Lavin managed to frustrate the East Lancs bowlers (enough to have them throwing the ball to the boundary for 4) before Lavin fell for an all-important 12 when he was given out leg before to give Bhada his second wicket of the game. Lewis Marsden joined Fergus at the crease with just 11 needed. Whatever nerves there appeared to be in the Lowerhouse players were not shown in Bailey who took Bhada on and dispatched him over the long on boundary for a thoroughly enjoyable 6. Bailey and Marsden saw the game through with Fergus being the man of the hour and finishing on an unbeaten 34. A good way to start the season with maximum points being picked up to put the House in a 7 way tie at the top of the Lancashire League table after the first game of the 2015 season.