It was a weekend of contrasting fortunes for the senior teams at Orrell as a poor Saturday turned into a far more positive Sunday.
On Saturday, the first team made the short trip to Burscough. The start was delayed for an hour due to wet conditions but when skipper, Andrew Mottram, won the toss he made the correct decision to have a bowl in what seemed to be bowler friendly conditions.
Opening bowlers, Gareth Houghton and Joe Lyth, sought to make early inroads on what transpired to be a slow and low wicket. Houghton was unlucky not to make a breakthrough with a few near misses including a convincing appeal for a caught behind of the Burscough opener Ryan Hughes. The introduction of Matt Morgan into the attack saw him make the breakthrough with the score on 37. Tight bowling from Morgan and Sid Patel saw the Burscough run rate slow to a crawl at one stage but crucially further wickets were not falling and it was clear that the Burscough game plan was to go hard later in the innings.
The wickets in hand allowed the Burscough batters to significantly increase their attacking intent either side of the tea break. Burscough batters Navdeep Aujla and Ben Van Niwekerk in particular started to find the boundary with the increasing regularity- the missed chance to dismiss Aujla when he was in single figures proving costly. Burscough eventually declared on 193-6 after 51 overs. Morgan (1-25) was the pick of the bowlers with Ali Sartaj (1-38) and Patel (3-85) also amongst the wickets.
In reply, Orrell knew that they would likely have a maximum of 40 overs to chase down the required total and that keeping wickets in hand for the last 20 overs would be key. The batters failed to do that as they found themselves 23-3 early on. Crucially, Mottram was still at the crease and if he could build a partnership of substance then victory was still attainable. Unfortunately, wickets continued to tumble and entering the last 20 overs, whilst the required runs was achievable, it was clear that the partnership at the crease of Mottram and Patel would need to score the bulk of the runs. When Mottram perished for 47 soon afterwards, the prospects of victory were gone and apart from a cameo of 39 from Patel, Orrell were bowled out for 142 in 35.4 overs.
Orrell’s second team compounded a disappointing Saturday as they crashed to defeat at home to Northop Hall. A poor batting display saw Orrell crumble to 96 all out on 39.4 overs. Steve Pegg with 51 was the only batter to make a score of note. The visitors cruised to a 6 wicket victory in 22.5 overs with only Harry Burrows (3-19) looking like making the required inroads into their batting line up. Crucially for Orrell, a draw between second and third placed Ainsdale and Liverpool mean that the defeat was not too damaging to their place at the top of the league.
On Sunday, the second team made the trip to third placed Liverpool to lay their rearranged game from a few weeks ago. Needing the win to close the gap on Orrell, when the hosts won the toss, they chose that their best way to victory was to bowl. A methodical batting performance thwarted the efforts of the Liverpool bowlers as Orrell were eventually all out for 182 in 75 overs. 5 of the Orrell top 6 contributed to the total as Steve Pegg top scored again with 44, Steve Tickle (23) Richard Smith (33) Mathew Wareing (30) and Mottram (26). Under their plan to chase an Orrell total, Liverpool fell short as they finished on 119-7 from 23 overs as the match ended in a draw. Phil Taberner (2-33) Lee Martinus (2-25) and Charlie Abbott (1-6) were the Orrell wicket takers. The draw protected Orrell’s position at the top of the table going into the last few matches of the season.
Orrell’s third team meanwhile won their match on Sunday at home to Newton Le Willows 4th team. Batting first, the Orrell top order made a steady start with contributions from George Mushahwar (55) Alfie Clarke (26) and Ben Mahoney (50) and it looked like a score of over 200 would be achievable. The expected late innings push from the Orrell lower middle order did not materialise but skipper, Alan Moore, was still able to declare on 186-8 from 45 overs due to a spirited cameo from Robin ‘The Fox’ Foxon which included a reverse sweep shot.
In reply, Oliver Graham made inroads into the Newton batting line up but poor fielding from Orrell saw them miss a number of opportunities to dismiss the quick scoring left handed bat- Jack Hutton. Indeed, whilst Hutton was at the crease the match was very much in the balance. Hutton was eventually clean bowled by Mark Crumpton and Newton were all out for 121 in 26.2 overs with a hard hitting cameo from away skipper, Chris Edge, making for a fun finale. Graham finished with figures of 4-45, Crumpton (3-26) George Berry (1-33) and Katie Hodge (1-9). This was an excellent match which was played in a great spirit and was a credit to both teams and both captains.
Orrell’s fourth team capped a very pleasing Sunday with a win away at Hindley. Batting first, Orrell made 167-8 from 40 overs with Geof Burrows top scoring with 70 and Andy Ackers scoring a quick-fire 58. The Hindley reply was strong and the match went to the wire with 4 runs required from 3 balls and 1 wicket left. Orrell took the final wicket to win by 3 runs. Captain, Steve Martlew, showed the way with 4 wickets and led the team in such a way as to ensure that all players contributed significantly to the win.