Ormskirk lose ground in battle to retain the Premier League Championship
Northern won the toss and elected to bat on a well prepared wicket that, linked to a fast outfield, was expected to yield a lot of runs.
There was a late change in the Ormskirk line up because Josh Bohannon had been called up by Lancashire as a First XI County player. The groans from the spectators when his omission was announced over the public address system gave an indication of how much the all- rounder would be missed. Skipper Nicky Caunce was also unavailable and so the team was not at full strength to play against the Crosby side that were two places above them in the League at the start of play.
In the absence of Nicky Caunce, Scott Lees was partnered by Ryan Maddock to open the Ormskirk bowling.
The openers Hayden McCrae and Liam Grey put on 32 runs before the first wicket fell. It was Ryan Maddock who drew the first blood when he bowled Liam Grey (11) to bring Chris Laker into the action. The new partnership added 30 runs when Ryan Maddock struck for the second time having Chris Laker (11) caught behind by George Lavelle.
The third wicket was claimed with the score on 83 when Tom Hartley got the important scalp of Hayden McCrae (45) and, when the score went to 90-4, with the capture of Northern’s skipper James Cole (4) by Scott Lees, things were looking good. They were even better when the 5th wicket of Chris Brownlow (15) fell, with only one further run being added, to give Scott Lees his second wicket.
The next section of play was, putting it mildly, tedious. The score crept along at a snail’s pace with the batsmen not chasing runs but quite happily plodding along with a steady flow of singles. It was Alex Mason who broke the partnership, and the boredom, when he had Carl Hey (19) caught behind, to have the scoreboard showing 127-6.
The loss of the 6th wicket saw an upturn in the pace of the game with the score progressing to 160 before the 7th wicket of Tom Jones (16) fell to give Tom Hartley his second wicket of the game.
When the score reached 180 the innings was declared with Justin Snow undefeated on 48.
The innings lasted for 57.2 overs, which meant that Ormskirk would have approximately 50 overs to get the runs required. Therefore, with an asking rate in the region of 3.5 runs per over, it seemed reasonable to be fairly confident of meeting the required 181 runs.
Ormskirk, however, could not have started with a worse reply. With the very first ball of the innings, for the third time this season, and for the second successive league game Andy Baybutt (0) found his way back to the Pavilion. This time he was caught behind.
Alex Rankin joined John Armstrong at the crease and had put on a partnership of 47 runs when Alex (25), who had done himself credit, was caught attempting to push the score along. The loss of this wicket brought the ‘in-form’ George Lavelle to join John Armstrong who was going well.
George hooked the fourth ball he received, which looked all the way to be a boundary. Unfortunately for him, however, the Northern fielder, Heydon McCrae, did not quite see it that way and pulled off one if the best catches seen at Brook Lane for a very long time. The third wicket was down but the run rate was satisfactory and victory was still very much in Ormskirk’s grasp.
Captain for the day, Gary Knight, who has been in good form of recent games failed to maintain that form as he replaced George Lavelle. He was sent back to the dressing room without troubling the scorers when he was bowled by Northern’s star bowler Tom Sephton. With the total on 59-4 things were now not looking quite as rosy as they had been.
It was now down to Ormskirk’s two most experienced players, John Armstrong and Ian Robinson to steer the ship home. They looked to be doing just that until a poor piece of running between the wickets saw Ian Robinson (27) run out. It was a crucial wicket to lose and especially disappointing because it was so unnecessary. They had put on 54 runs for the 5th wicket to take the score to 113-5, still 68 runs short of the target. Nevertheless, there were 5 wickets still in hand.
Those five wickets were soon reduced to three when Alex Mason (1) gave a catch and John Armstrong (56), who had played extremely well to anchor the innings, went in the same fashion. With the score now at 121-7 the odds had now swung in favour of Northern.
The rest of the story was a sad one for Ormskirk. The wickets of Ryan Maddock (3), Scott Lees (0) and Tom Hartley (5) toppled, to leave Northern the winners by a margin of 40 runs.
The loss of unavailable players Nicky Caunce and Josh Bohannon had inevitably taken its toll and saw Northern go back with points to Crosby and widen the gap in the League between the two teams