On a beautiful sunny day, with a very well prepared wicket and fast outfield, the scene was set for an entertaining game when traditional rivals Bootle CC visited Brook Lane. As it turned out it was an entertaining game, albeit the result was not one the Ormskirk players and supporters were particularly happy with because they lost for the second week running.
With the conditions as they were it was a good toss to win. Bootle won it and, not surprisingly, elected to bat.
Their opening partnership put on 42 runs before Nicky Caunce claimed the first wicket, having Will Hale (19) caught by Andy Baybutt. The success was not maintained as 73 runs were added before the second wicket fell with Vishel Tripathi (45) well caught on the boundary off the bowling of Alex Mason.
The wicket was giving no help to the Ormskirk bowlers and the Bootle batsmen made very steady progress with Sam Kershaw looking particularly impressive as he knocked up 69 runs before being caught behind off the bowling of Scott Lees. At the end of 55 overs the batsmen had taken the score along to 244 -7 when the declaration came.
It had been a hard toil for the Ormskirk bowlers. They had not bowled badly but were up against good batsmen on a wicket tailor made for making runs. The pick of the bunch was Scott Lees who picked up 3 -57 runs off 10 overs.
With the conditions being so favourable to the batsmen it was not unreasonable to expect Ormskirk to be in with a fighting chance of knocking off the runs to win the game. A lot depended on a reasonably good start and that is what they got. Andy Baybutt (39) and John Armstrong (35) put on an opening partnership of 58 runs. However, when that partnership was ended with the loss of John’s wicket, with Andy on 18, wickets tumbled with only Gary Knight (25) and Alex Mason (20*) troubling the visitors. Yes, there were some umpiring decisions that went against the batsmen that, maybe on another day, could have been different, but generally speaking the batting was not up to normal standards. Despite all mitigating factors for poor batting display credit has to be given to the Bootle bowlers who performed well and, in particular, to Chris Liptrot who bowled throughout the innings finishing with a haul of 6 wickets for 61 runs off 20 overs
At the end of the day Bootle cruised to victory by 85 runs, leaving the home supporters somewhat bemused with the indifferent start to the season.
It has never been easy to defend a Championship and the last two games have merely emphasised just how difficult it is. However, there a long way to go before anything is decided, with lots of time to make up for early lost ground.
Nicky Caunce and his team will be out to return to winning ways with a visit to Lytham next Saturday.