All Things (New) Brighton Beautiful
Impressive team efforts secures win at New Brighton
New Brighton 181 (Adam Sandalls 59, Dan Cooke 54; Luke Procter 5-47)
Rainhill 182-2 (Sam Kershaw 53*, Mike Rotheram 44; Sebastian Botes 1-28)
Rainhill (24 pts) beat New Brighton (4 pts) by 8 wickets
Rainhill surged to a convincing victory at New Brighton, thanks to a superb collective effort. The win takes Rainhill to fifth in the Premier League and confirms that last week's triumph over leaders Northern was no accident.
Since imploding at Formby in remarkable circumstances, Rainhill have been unbeaten in the league. That the team have erased the disappointment and frustrations of that game so completely and immediately has been, in no small part, due to the captaincy of Ben Edmundson. It would have been easy to have become introspective after the Formby result, but instead the team have focused on the next game and have been playing great confidence and belief.
The home side won the toss and elected to bat. New Brighton's openers, Sebastian Botes and Adam Neal, showed discipline and patience as they put on 41 for the first wicket. The breakthrough was made when Jamie Harrison found the edge of Botes' bat and the catch was held by the ever-reliable Simon Brown. Neal followed shortly afterwards, caught by Ross Higham off the bowling of Luke Procter.
Making his first appearance for Rainhill this year, Procter's refreshingly energetic bowling created problems for New Brighton's top order. David While (1) and Pite van Biljon (10), two potentially dangerous batsmen, succumbed to Procter's persistent line; when the latter edged to wicketkeeper Brown, New Brighton were struggling on 53 for 4.
Next in was Louis Botes, who hit a sublime 68 against Bootle last week, but he was out for 7 and when he played a Peter Kelly delivery into the hands of Sam Kershaw. Procter's precision and intensity continued to make life difficult for New Brighton's batsmen and he was rewarded with the further wickets of Matthew Thompson (5) and Ashley Watkins (1). It was Procter's first five-wicket haul for the club.
New Brighton, now on 87 for 7, had no intention of throwing in the towel. Dan Cooke and Adam Sandalls came together and engineered a remarkable fightback, sharing an eighth wicket partnership of 85. Even more remarkable was that they scored with relative ease: Cooke hit a delightful 54 from 55 balls while Sandalls' 59 came from 67 deliveries. Both eventually lost their wickets to Jamie Harrison, who bowled effectively to finish with figures of 4 for 48. When Jonathan Fowler was out, caught by Kershaw for 0, New Brighton's innings had closed in 181. In the circumstances it was decent total and credit must go to Cooke and Sandalls for they way in which they set about turning the game around.
Unfortunately for the hosts Rainhill's batting attack was fitted with a pair of jet engines. In response, the opening pair of James Clarke (pictured, batting against Orrell Red Triangle) and Mike Rotheram effectively dealt with all the questions asked of them by New Brighton's bowlers and shared a solid - and sometimes entertaining - partnership worth 70. Clarke was the first man out, lbw to Sebastian Botes for 33. Rotheram looked set to make the third half century of the afternoon when he was caught by Pite van Biljon off the bowling of David While for 44. With the score on 128 for 2, Sam Kershaw (53 not out) and Luke Procter (38 not out) came together and steered Rainhill to their target without further loss.
It would be easy to pick out and praise individual performances: Kershaw's half century, Procter's quickfire unbeaten 38 and his "five for", Rotheram's solid 44 or Harrison's impressive bowling. The truth, however, is that the result owes far more to an excellent team effort than any individual contribution.
Rainhill will be in confident mood ahead of next Saturday's match at home to Southport and Birkdale (start time: 12:00).
Umpires: Ian Laurence, Phil Luxon
Scorers: Martin Humphreys, Andrew Finney
Match ball sponsor: Black Swan Tax