Orrell’s first team put on a classy power show in an 89 wicket victory away at Birkenhead Park. There was little indication of what to happen as the hosts, having won the toss and elected to bat, raced to a quick start with their opener Barnes being savage with any short bowling. The hosts cruised to a fifty opening partnership and Orrell required something to change the momentum of the match. That appeared with an inspired run out from Jake Brown to make the score 52-1. Whilst young tyro Joe Lyth continued to wheel away with hostility and economy at one end , the introduction of Matt Morgan (bowling medium pace rather than his usual spin) tightened the grip on the Birkenhead batting line up from the top end. This provided the platform for slow left armer Ali Sartaj to enter the fray. When Sartaj bowled key batter Barnes to make the score 99-3, the momentum of the innings moved significantly towards the visitors- aided by some tight, mobile fielding from a young , athletic team.
Whilst Sartaj continued to wheel away from the bottom end, the reintroduction of Lyth from the top end saw Orrell rattle through the overs and impose significant scoreboard pressure. Wickets fell at regular intervals and the hosts were eventually all out for 157 in 53.1 overs. Sartaj with 5-39 from 19.1 overs and Lyth 1-25 from 14 overs were the pick of the Orrell bowlers. Morgan (1-26) and Gareth Houghton (2-37) were the other wicket takers.
The Orrell reply got off to a strong start as Brown produced a number of classy and powerful ground shots on both sides of the wicket- a very impressive sight. Sam Heeley provided the able foil at the other end and the half century partnership came up in next to no time. When Heeley was out for 20 with the score on 58, the scoring rate slowed down to an extent but never to the stage that the Orrell grip on the match was in danger. Brown brought up a classy 50 but then departed for 58 with the score on 94. Morgan entered the crease and saw the game home alongside Richard Everett- who started scratchily but unveiled a number of very eye catching shots himself later in his innings- as Orrell sauntered to victory with plenty of overs to spare. Morgan finishing not out on 26 and Everett finishing now full of fluency on 46 not out.
A very pleasing win for Orrell after a shaky start to the first innings. From that point onwards, this was a strong team performance. Whilst there will be greater challenges ahead, it is clear that good habits are being developed and standards are being set.
Orrell’s Seconds meanwhile hosted Rainhill at the YMCA ground. The visitors won the toss and out Orrell into bat. Orrell made a strong 204-6 declared from 48 overs. Jonathan Cooper top scoring with 59 runs and notable contributions from Steve Unsworth (49) and Stuart Craig (31). The Unsworth/Craig partnership was notable also for an all run 5- a great achievement for such autumnal legs. Whilst Rainhill never looked like challenging the victory target, it did look like they may achieve a draw at one stage. A Chris Kirkby hatrick eventually broke their resistance as they were all out for 150 with only a few over left. Kirby (3-21) and Harry Burrows (4-36) were the pick of the Orrell bowlers.
Orrell’s third team on the end of an agonising defeat- as they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory- away at Newton. Newton won the toss and elected to bat, Inspired by a fantastic opening spell from Under 15 George Berry, the Newton innings was soon on the back foot.
However, dropped catches early on and then some lethargic fielding in the middle of the innings gave Newton a foothold back into the match as they recovered from 66-5 to finish 203-8 declared in 45 overs. Berry 3-34 and George Mushahwar (3-31) were the pick of the Orrell bowlers. The consensus was that the Orrell batting line up could chase this large total but that they had let Newton back into the match after such a good start- a key learning point for such a young team. The Orrell reply got off to a promising start as all of the Orrell top four made contributions to the chase. The third wicket partnership of Dom Lawton and Matthew Wareing set up a platform for the Orrell reply that should have seen them home.
When both Lawton (39) and Wareing (37) were out with the score in the mid 130’s, the game, whilst still in Orrell’s favour, became more of a contest. A seventh wicket partnership between Tom Heywood (35) and Charlie Abbott saw Orrell within touching distance of the win. However, lack of experience showed as a series of unnecessary injudicious shots saw the Orrell tenth wicket enter the final over of the match needing two runs to win. Tension was rife as Newton skipper, Chris Edge, stepped up to bowl to his opposite number Alan Moore.
The first ball of the over was a poor ball but Moore unfortunately smashed a full toss to the Newton fielder at deep mid wicket who clung on to give the hosts a dramatic win. This was a fantastic game of cricket, with lots of quality and intense passages of play but always played in a good spirit. Thanks as always to the Newton club for playing the perfect hosts. From an Orrell perspective, whilst this was a pleasing performance from a young team, there are key learning points around fielding with intensity at all times and how to see out a run chase.