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All for one and one for all!

U11sA secure first win of the season for Rainhill!

Rainhill 253 (James Hanson 11, Ethan Bass 8)

Widnes 227 (Finnlee Millar 2-5, April Jones 2-6)

Rainhill won by 26 runs

it was not quite the three musketeers, but the U11A team demonstrated true comradery and a fantastic team spirit in their opening match of 2022, which brought a real buzz and energy to Victoria Terrace on a chilly April evening (assisted by the open bar, of course!). Visitors Widnes also played a role in providing some fantastic entertainment to the many spectators gathered in anticipation of a fascinating game of cricket. They were not to be disappointed.

The pre-match team talk held in the changing room appeared to whip our young cricketers into a bit of a frenzy (parents commenting on the noise coming from inside!) and they emerged with confidence and positive energy. Rainhill's captain for this match, Finlay Venables, won the toss and elected to bat first stating that he "had confidence that Rainhill could post a competitive total and defend it”. Fin looked to be spot on with his assessment when Ethan Bass and Ayaan Maheshwari, the first batting pair, strode to the crease and comfortably put on 12 with the loss of only 1 wicket from the first 3 overs - an impressively solid start.

The second batting pair, Charlie Unsworth and Archie Venables, continued in this vein, adding another 8 to the total after their 3 overs, followed by a similarly robust performance from Maddie Rotheram with April Jones, adding 7 and taking Rainhill’s score to a respectable 227 after 9 overs. The fourth batting pair was captain Finlay Venables and James Hanson. James batted with attacking intent and top scored with 11 from his 9 balls, ably supported by Fin with the two communicating and running very well between the wickets. The innings was safely closed out by Finnlee Millar and Yash Reddy who, despite some powerful hitting, were unlucky: finding fielders and not getting the value that their strokeplay deserved, they still managed to add 13 and took the score onto a competitive 253. Only 4 wickets were lost in Rainhill’s innings and this is testament to the sensible batting, calling and committed running between the wickets.

Confidence remained high, as a very vocal and chipper Rainhill team took to the field to defend their total. This team is full of characters who aren’t shy of expressing themselves and from ball one there was an almost perpetual volley of (loud!) encouraging statements to be heard from all over the field! This created a great atmosphere, turning Victoria Terrace into a cauldron, seeming to knock the Widnes opening batsman off his stride as he was bowled by Finnlee Millar with a brutal inswinging yorker hitting the base of the left handers off stump. This was only the second ball of the innings! Another wicket followed shortly after in the same over and this set the tone for Widnes’ chase. What followed was an almost complete bowling and fielding performance as all of Rainhill’s players bowled (aside from wicketkeeper Charlie Unsworth) and took at least one wicket, making some great stops in the infield and on the boundary to firmly keep the lid on! After 9 overs, Widnes’ score remained on 200, having lost 7 wickets, leaving them needing to score 53 off the final 6 overs. This was a very tall ask, especially considering the skill and discipline with which Rainhill were bowling and fielding but - just to add to the drama - Widnes made something of a resurgence. They hit four boundaries and scored 25 in the next 3 overs and showed their intention to make a real fight of things. However, Rainhill didn’t blink! Ayaan Maheshwari (pictured) - bowling beautiful leg spin - Yash Reddy and April Jones held their nerve and bowled brilliantly in the final 3 overs, taking a further 2 wickets and conceding only 2 runs. The final over was a wicket maiden from April Jones, perfectly rounding off an excellent team performance!

It was chocolate milk all round in the home changing room as Rainhill celebrated a very well-deserved victory in the only way they know how, loudly and full of personality and charm! It was a wonderful evening for the team, parents, spectators and the club alike and - hopefully - the first of many to come this season!

This group of players has been together for a couple of seasons now following their progression from U9s into U11 cricket and their enthusiasm, personality and togetherness is something to behold, not to mention the significant improvement in their cricketing ability! The group have worked tirelessly throughout the winter to focus on key areas, which were the obvious differences when compared to the more experienced sides in the league last season, and it all came together in this performance, establishing a standard and key principles to take forward into what has all the hallmarks of a potentially promising season.

Onwards to the next fixture away against Whitefield (Roby) on Friday 6th May!

Many thanks to Paul Millar for the match report.

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