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Harrison earns New Brighton win

Jamie Harrison takes 6-55 as Rainhill win first game of 2023

Rainhill 132 (Billy Godleman 35, Ross Higham 30; Martyn Evans 4-15) New Brighton 115 (Owais Shah 38, Adam Neal 35*; Jamie Harrison 6-55) Rainhill (22pts) beat New Brighton (6 pts) by 17 runs Scorecard Rainhill secured their first win of 2023 at the fourth attempt thanks to an astonishing display of pace bowling from Jamie Harrison. Harrison produced his best ever bowling performance for Rainhill, taking 6 for 55 as he cut through New Brighton's top and middle order to help Rainhill to a victory that, for much of the game, had seemed unlikely.

Rainhill won the toss and opted to bat first. Openers Ross Higham and Billy Godleman - making his debut for the club - got off to a flying start despite Godleman being dropped behind the stumps second ball. Godleman played some punchy shots as he raced to 35 from 24 balls but his entertaining innings came to an end when Sebastian Botes found an edge and this time wicketkeeper Adam Neal made no mistake. James Clarke and Higham then came together and moved the score to 62 for 1, with the latter demonstrating his usual direct approach and hitting two sixes. Rainhill looked firmly in control and were certainly in a strong position to build the kind of total that would put pressure on the visitors. Clarke was caught and bowled by Sukhjit Singh and shortly afterwards Higham also exited, caught by Dan Cooke to give Singh his second wicket of the afternoon. Khalid Usman (17) and Rob McKeown (13) then sought to steady the ship and they managed to add 20 for the fourth wicket before McKeown's defiance was ended when Elliot Griffiths demolished his stumps. Usman hit a six and showed a sense of purpose but was undone when he played Singh to Suliman Safi, who gratefully held the catch. From 103 for 5, Rainhill slumped to 132 all out. Jamie Harrison offered some fight, hitting a quick 15 from 16 balls, but Martyn Evans scuttled out the lower order quite cheaply - taking 4 for 15 from 6.2 overs.

132 looked like a miserable total but the topsy-turvy and unpredictable nature of cricket in this season's Premier League was illustrated perfectly by what happened next. Jamie Harrison, the personification of line and length, finished with a stunning six wickets as Rainhill managed to snatch victory from the jaws of seemingly inevitable defeat.

Harrison's first victim was Oliver Griffiths, bowled without scoring. Khalid Usman, bowling his disciplined spin from the other end, was hit for six by Sebastian Botes, but the next ball trapped the opener lbw for 7. When Harrison struck again, catching Suliman Safi off his own bowling, and New Brighton were struggling on 18 for 3. Further wickets continued to fall regularly, with Harrison bowling Dan Cooke (7) and Sukhjit Singh (0) before dismissing Martyn Evans lbw for 11. Having secured his first ever five-wicket haul for Rainhill and with New Brighton on 64 for 6, Harrison was in a mood for more but as long as Owais Shah remained at the crease there was always a chance that the visitors would reach their target.

Shah hung around, his patient stand becoming an increasing frustration for Rainhill. Khalid Usman picked up a further two wickets: Sebastian Botes was caught by wicketkeeper Simon Brown for 1 while Alex Watkins was given out lbw the next ball. But the danger man remained and, when he was joined by captain Alex Neal with the score on 71 for 8, the nature of the game changed radically. The chase was most definitely on and the ninth-wicket partnership picked up the pace.

With Shah and Neal making their intentions clear their developing partnership looked potentially threatening. Who better to end it than Jamie Harrison, who picked up his sixth wicket when he bowled Shah for a hard-earned 38. As Shah trudged off to applause, with the visitors still needing 44, it may have seemed like the game was over as a contest. Rainhill only needed one wicket, but it didn't come easily. Neal and number 11 Elliot Griffiths not only held out but were able to find gaps in the field. Neal soon became a real threat and began scoring freely, reaching 35 from 31 balls as the visitors closed in on their target. The game was set for a nervous finish.

With the final pair having added 24, Rainhill captain Paul Ford introduced Liam O'Toole into the attack. Neal ran three from the first ball, leaving Griffiths facing. Griffiths defend the next ball, before he was struck on the pads by the third. Huge shots from O'Toole and Rainhill were followed by the umpire raising his finger. It was heartbreaking for New Brighton, also looking for their first win of the season, but a relief for Rainhill who will go into their next match at Orrell with renewed confidence. Umpires: Norman Edwards, Martin James

Scorers: Andrew Finney, Josh Eastwood Match ball sponsor: Hayes Butchers

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