The cricketing adage ‘catches win matches’ was never more clearly illustrated than in this game. There was a total of 11 catches in the game but it was one particularly remarkable catch, made by Nicky Caunce, off his own bowling, that was pivotal in determining the end result.
Having lost the toss, Ormskirk were put in to bat.
Andy Baybutt and John Armstrong made a steady start putting on 35 runs for the first wicket.
The loss of Baybutt’s wicket brought in Josh Bohannon to partner Armstrong and together they made batting look easy. The score progressed rapidly and reached 146 before Armstrong (61) was caught when he misjudged a delivery from spinner Ashraf Nawab.
Twelve runs later Bohannon (62) was out to the third catch of the innings to leave the score at 158-3.
The new partnership of George Lavelle and Gary Knight took the score along to 172 when Lavelle (12) was bowled and his replacement Owen Griffiths (1) was caught 10 runs later.
The loss of Owen Griffiths wicket started a batting collapse and, before they knew it, Ormskirk were all out for 210. Gary Knight (14) was bowled, Gavin Griffiths (2) was caught, as were Tom Hartley (0), Ryan Maddock (8) and Scott Lees (1).
It was a respectable total score but nevertheless somewhat disappointing in so much as the last five wickets fell for a paltry 28 runs.
In reply, New Brighton made a bad start when opener Tom Horrocks (0) was caught behind by George Lavelle, off the bowling of Scott Lees, to see the scoreboard read 6-1. That, however, was a temporary set-back for the visitors and 71 runs were added before the 2nd wicket fell, when Tom Hartley took his first wicket winning an lbw appeal to dismiss David While (33).
Crucially, Mark Rowland, the New Brighton skipper was looking confident with 37 runs to his credit and scoring fluently. He was joined by Andrew Clark and a further 39 runs were added before Nicky Caunce took his first wicket, having Clarke (12) caught by Owen Griffiths. That took the score to 115-3.
New Brighton needed less than 100 runs to win with 7 wickets left, plenty of time to get them and Mark Rowland going along apace. It was game on!
With the score on 122 Nicky Caunce steamed in to bowl at Rowland from the St. Helens Road end. Rowland hit the ball full force straight down the wicket. Everyone waited to hear the ball thump against the bottom area of the sightscreen for what looked like to be a certain 4 runs. Nicky Caunce, however, didn’t quite see it that way.
In his run through he flung himself low to his left and took an amazing one-handed catch which left the bewildered Rowland (66) looking in disbelief as his innings came to a spectacular end. With him now gone, and the score on 122-4, things were looking brighter for Ormskirk. They looked even brighter when Tom Hartley took the 5th wicket of Louis Botes (5) without another run being made and with just one further run being added Nicky Caunce claimed the wicket of Ashley Watkins (1). It was now 123-6.
The score progressed to 133 when Tom Hartley took the 7th wicket and at the same time notched up his 50th Premier League wicket of the season. He tempted John While (6) to make an attacking shot only to completely deceived him so that he found himself well out of his crease to be promptly stumped by George Lavelle. That wicket made the score 133-7 and the screw tightened.
Gavin Griffiths was brought back into the attack and uprooted the stumps of Mark Hale (5) and Ashraf Nawab (0) in successive balls.
Armand Rabot, the number 8 batsman, was proving obstinate at one end and had made 25* to take the score along to 161 before the last wicket of Gabe Johnson-Aley fell to the bowling of Tom Hartley and saw Ormskirk home to victory.
The talking point at the end of the game was of the ‘Nicky Caunce Catch’. All the comments were aptly summed up by Jeff Carter, an avid cricket enthusiast and Ormskirk supporter, when he said, “That catch was the match winner. It was as good as I have seen at any level of cricket. It was exceptional.”
While John Armstrong, Josh Bohannon and Tom Hartley all made important contributions for Ormskirk, the “Man of the Match” had to be to Nicky Caunce for his overall performance and particularly for his game changing catch.