The game between the first and second teams in the Premier League was an eagerly anticipated fixture. If the prepared script were to hold true, Ormskirk would finish the day with an almost unassailable lead towards claiming the League Championship.
Ormskirk won the toss and elected to field which looked to have back fired when the opening pace attack made little initial impact. The score reached 71 before Josh Bohannon made the first breakthrough when he had David Atkinson (34) caught behind by George Lavelle.
With the pace bowlers making no inroads a second wicket partnership developed and Simon Kerrigan and Tom Hartley were called on to attack with spin from both ends. With their introduction the whole complexion of the innings changed and wickets started to tumble in spectacular style. From being in a strong position at 133-1 with Rainhill’s top batsman, Tyler McGladdery, on 57 Simon struck his first blow and had him caught in the deep by Scott Lees.
With the fall of wickets, Simon, well supported by Tom Hartley, weaved his magic and the Rainhill innings dramatically collapsed. They lost the last eight wickets for just 22 runs with Simon finishing with 6 wickets for 34 runs off 18 overs and Tom getting wickets for 38 runs off 15 overs. Rainhill were all out for 155 and things were looking good for Ormskirk with a strong batting line up and plenty of time to run down a modest target.
Andy Baybutt and Michael Jones opened the reply facing the spin of the Rainhill professional Akshay Darekar at one and the medium pace of Tom Bromhead at the other.
The first two overs bowled were maiden overs and in the third over Andy Baybutt (0) lost his patience and without scoring picked the wrong ball from Darekar to attack and was caught on the boundary. Five runs later Michael Jones (3) suffered the same fate when Darekar had him caught in the slips. A worse start could not have been contemplated but it did get worse when John Armstrong (2) became Darekar’s third victim going to yet another catch. The score was now 20-3 and a strong fourth wicket partnership was required.
Josh Bohannon and George Lavelle gradually managed to steady the situation and took the score along to 88, when Rainhill struck a major blow when Josh (53) was caught and bowled. The Rainhill contingencies were particularly delighted in gaining this wicket as Josh had been dropped to an easy catch earlier in his innings. The score now read 88-4.
Skipper Matt Glayzer joined George but never looked comfortable and lost his wicket falling lbw to take the score to 116-5. Despite the loss of the wicket things looked reasonably good with George approaching his half-century and only 40 runs needed for victory with plenty of time to get them.
George never reached his half-century as when on 48 and Ormskirk on 116 he went to yet another catch. This left Ian Robinson and Simon Kerrigan together to get the necessary 37 runs but it was not to be. Simon (7) was bowled by Darekar and Ian’s new partner, Nicky Caunce (0), was needlessly run out to be replaced by Scott Lees.
The nervous tension rose to new heights when Ian Robinson (13) was caught in the slips to leave only one wicket standing and 18 runs needed.
Tom Hartley (4*) joined Scott and, with the score on 144, it was all over as Scott was bowled by Darekar.
The game was dominated by the two professional spin bowlers, Simon Kerrigan and Akshay Darekar. There was nothing special in the wicket to favour them. The bottom line being that they were both too good for the batsmen.
Those who came out of the game with some credit for Ormskirk were Josh Bohannon, George Lavelle, Simon Kerrigan and Tom Hartley, with Simon clearly demonstrating his status as a professional cricketer.
There are just four games to play and it is still in Ormskirk’s hands to take the Championship. With three of those games away from Brook Lane and all four against top sides they will need to erase the Rainhill game from the memory bank and return to the well rehearsed prepared script which went so badly off course.