It was the first loss of the season, which in itself was disappointing, but all was not doom and gloom as, at the end of the day, a league record was broken in remarkable style by a 9th wicket stand of 148 between Ian Robinson and Scott Lees. Furthermore, despite the loss, the gap between OCC and their nearest challengers at the top of the Premier League was extended by a point.
Leigh won the toss and elected to field which, at least for the first session of play, seemed to be an inspired decision. With 8 wickets down and only 93 runs on the board it looked as though an early return to Ormskirk down the East Lancs Road for players and supporters alike was to be the order of the day.
It all started when, before they knew what had happened to them, three batsmen were back in the Pavilion with only 17 runs on the board. Alex Rankin (0) Michael Jones (2) and Josh Bohannon (2) all fell to catches. To make matters worse Gary Knight (16), who had joined the fray in partnership with Ian Robinson fell the same way by offering a catch that was gratefully accepted, taking the score to 29-4.
Matt Glayzer (8) came in to join Ian but he didn’t last long either when he was caught off the bowling of Karl Brown. The score was 44-5 when Simon Kerrigan came in to join Ian who was the only batsman who was untroubled by the bowling whilst others around him had floundered.
Simon hit a brisk 16 runs but to his dismay was bowled just when it looked that he might stay with Ian to avoid what was looking to be a complete failure. Nicky Caunce (5), who was in great batting form in the recent T20 game, lasted just fourteen balls before he was caught in the deep. The score was now a miserable 89-7 with Ian who was running out of partners.
At that stage Scott Lees was walking around the boundary with Jamie Barnes and realised that he had better get back to the Pavilion quickly to get padded up in case the next batsman Tom Hartley went the same way as his hapless predecessors. As he made his way a spectator reminded him that when he played for S&B against Ormskirk he scored a century and suggested that maybe he could, against all the odds coming in at number 10, do the same for Ormskirk. Those words were uncannily prophetic.
Scott got his pads on just in time because Tom (1) was the next to bite the dust. After facing 13 balls he fell to yet another catch. The score was now an awful 93-8 and it was virtually ‘last hope saloon’ for Ormskirk as Scott joined Ian who was still at the crease not having been troubled by any of the bowlers and heading towards a chanceless half century.
What followed was incredible as both Ian and Scott took charge. Scott was fearless in his approach, while Ian amassed his runs steadily. Picking on every bad ball and some of the good ones, Scott hammered away to hit boundary after boundary. He overtook Ian’s score and to everyone’s amazement, except possibly his own and the spectator who reminded him he could bat, the partnership progressed beyond expectation.
After facing just 64 balls in which he hit included nine 4s and five 6s Scott reached his century. His joy was unbridled as was that of his partner Ian. They had put on the biggest ninth wicket partnership of 148 in the history of the Club’s and the League’s history.
The partnership ended when Scott (102) going for another big hit was caught taking the score to 241-9. As he left the field he was given a standing ovation by players and supporters from both sides.
Hardly surprisingly the final partnership between Ian and Jamie Barnes (0*) was not so productive. Ian reached 92 when, when everybody was hoping against hope that he would be the second century maker, he was the victim of the ninth catch of the innings. His part in the drama has be absolutely crucial in Ormskirk’s revival to take them to a total score of 248.
Having looked to be getting no batting points to put in the locker they had secured five. It was far more than ever could have been expected as eight wickets had fallen very cheaply.
John Kitson, a life long OCC supporter reflected, “ I am sure I must be dreaming. I have never seen the likes before. The day we put on 148 runs for the last wicket will go down in OCC folklore history. Unbelievable!”
Success came to the bowlers when Leigh made their reply and between them Scott and Nicky grabbed five wickets to leave Leigh, still shell shocked from the earlier events, struggling at 67-5. It was then that the whole complexion of the game changed and the reason for that change was the onset of rain. It was not considered heavy enough to take the players off but the conditions definitely favoured the batsmen and with all credit to them they took full advantage. Bowling in the drizzling rain with a soggy ball for an hour and a half left the bowlers toiling without making a further breakthrough.
With just an over to spare the batsmen reached the required target to give victory to Leigh by a margin of five wickets.
The game will not be remembered however by who won it or lost it but for that wonderful ninth wicket partnership.