Sunday XI win after epic run chase
Colwyn Bay 191 (Matt Russell 64, Nick Bould 29; Neil Robinson 5-27)
Rainhill 194-5 (Tony Wright 50*, Steve Bell 48*, James Smith 1-24)
Rainhill beat Colwyn Bay by 5 wickets
After a two hour plus slow drive to Rhos-on-Sea, the Rainhill Sunday XI won a cracking, banter-filled match against a strong Colwyn Bay 3rd string side at Penrhyn Avenue.
The long journey had little impact on the opening bowling of Vinny Varghese (1-23) and young Ned Brougham, who held tight lines passing the early batsmen's edges regularly and limiting the early runrate to below 4 an over for some time.
Varghese removed opening bat James Smith for 12, which brought Colwyn Bay first teamer Matt Russell to the crease. Russell showed his class and experience, contributing an unbeaten 50 before retiring, as per the standard arrangement in Sunday friendlies (although he returned after the fall of the ninth wicket to take his score on to 64).
Russell and opener Nick Bould took the total on to 102 in a strong partnership before vice-captain Steve Bell came on to pick off Bould for 29 with a quicker straight ball on what was an absolute road of a batting track. Bell went on to pick up two more wickets including Colwyn Bay skipper Andrew Spillane for 2 (lbw) and Elliot Roberts for 13 with a class low catch by Scott Clegg. Bell finished with impressive bowling figures of 3-37.
Clegg himself ended with stats of 1-48, making a strong comeback with five tidy overs including a sharp stumping by the returning Tony Wright behind the sticks for the first time this year.
Colwyn Bay had seemed to be cruising and at the half way point were on 131 for 4. However, the introduction of Neil Robinson to the attack and some sharp fielding by Rainhill increased the pressure on the Bay. Special mentions go to Joe Crossley for some excellent swooping pickups and footwork at point and Kris Duffin (playing his first ever cricket match) who saved several boundaries and singles with enthusiastic diving, putting some of the more experienced Sunday cricketers to shame.
Duffin also bowled his first ever over but, after a wild first over from Neil Robinson off his longer run up - which included a smart catch by Wright off a gloved wide one down leg second ball - it was Robinson's tight line and length "dibbly dobblers" that turned the tide in Rainhill's favour. Robinson picked up a remarkable 5-27, finishing with a classy caught and bowled to removing last man Dan Russell for 5.
Chasing down a big score has often been a challenge for the Sunday XI, and the total of 191 was a considerable one. However, the post-covid confidence in the team at the moment is palpable and openers Jeff Fitzhenry (Rainhill's 3rd team captain) and Ste Woolley stood strong for ten overs in a solid partnership of 34. When Fitzhenry fell for 21 - an innings that comprised four cracking boundaries, including some lovely cover drives - Tony Wright (pictured, playing against Formby) came to the crease for his first knock of the summer.
Facing his first ball, Wright smashed a dead straight drive for four past the stumps at the bowler's end - a sign of things to come, as Wright went on to hit his first half century in 20 years forming strong partnerships with Woolley (who ended on 8 in the 14th over) and Neil Robinson. Neil Robinson followed his "five-fer" with a dogged 11 in a 54 run partnership with Wright who retired on 50 the ball after Neil was run out.
Scott Clegg contributed an important 6 runs and Stu Brown played some trademark forward defensives in their contributions before being removed c&b and run out respectively. Those two departures brought Vinny Varghese and Steve Bell to the crease with 60 runs required off 60 balls.
Having shown a lot of promise over the last two seasons, Steve Bell delivered some excellent shots to the boundary with an array of shots including some superb cover drives and lofted drives straight down the ground. The total of 194 was reached with Bell playing another classic cover drive to take his team to victory. Varghese finished in 17 not out, while Bell ended on 48 not out, winning a thoroughly well deserved Player of the Match
Rainhill had won with three overs remaining of the innings - underlining the brilliance of the team performance and the increased confidence of this group of players. Just to emphasise the point, this was the first defeat of the season for Colwyn Bay's 3rd XI.
Bring on Prescot next week! Many thanks to Tony Wright for the match report