Rainhill out of Ray Digman Trophy after 3-run defeat
Wallasey 119-5 (Jamie Crawley 53, Andrew Ward 20*; Ben Edmundson 3-15)
Rainhill 116-9 (Tyler McGladdery 35, Ben Edmundson 24; Daniel Beaver 2-12)
Wallasey won by 3 runs
Rainhill crashed out of the Ray Digman Trophy in the first round following a closely-fought contest with Wallasey.
Rainhill won the toss and opted to field. Wallasey initially managed well against the opening bowling attack of spinners Peter Kelly and David Atkinson, with Jamie Crawley playing in a dynamic, beligerent fashion from the outset. Crawley lofted a Kelly delivery down the ground for six and, aided by Daniel Beaver, took the score onto 36 before Rainhill made the breakthrough.
This came when Liam O'Toole was introduced into the attack. O'Toole's first ball deceived Beaver who played around it; his second struck off stump and the batsman was out for 9. Greg Beaver joined Crawley in the middle and similarly reached 9 runs before also being bowled - this time by Rainhill captain Ben Edmundson. Aside from Crawley, none of the top order really got going and club professional Sumiat Ruikar was next in - and next out, caught at mid-wicket by Rob McKeown off Edmundson's bowling for 6. Alex Eagles was out shortly afterwards for 1 when David Atkinson took a low catch from his own bowling. At this point Wallasey were 78 for 4 but, crucially, Crawley was still at the crease.
Crawley reached his 50 in style with a nice shot through mid-off, but his pyrotechnics were brought to an end when, attempting to find the boundary, he instead found the hands of Ross Higham at cow corner. His 53 had come from 49 balls.
With Crawley out, Rainhill sensed an opportunity to make further inroads but no more wickets fell. Andrew Ward and Harry Meehan saw out the innings, adding 25 runs to take the score to 119 for 5. The partnership was characterised not by big-hitting but intelligent strokeplay and good running. It was a total that could, and arguably should, have been less had Rainhill not been guilty of occasional misfields and dropped catches, including two relatively straighforward opportunities off Jack Lowrie's bowling.
With 120 required for victory, the question many were asking was whether Rainhill would be spooked by memories of Wallasey's last visit to Victoria Terrace when Sumit Ruikar took 8 for 26. On that occasion Rainhill were unable to deal with his arm ball and were skittled out for a dismal 66. David Atkinson was out early, for 7, when he was caught at cover by Jamie Crawley. The loss of the wicket only served to bring Tyler McGladdery (pictured) and Sam Kershaw together and quickly they set about building a promising partnership. While Kershaw was more patient, McGladdery adopted a more explosive approach, plundering runs from Wallasey's bowlers with apparent ease.
McGladdery hit a six over deep square leg but in the next over was undone by a full-length delivery from Daniel Beaver and was out, lbw, for 35. His knock had come from 22 balls and, while it had helped maintain a healthy run-rate, with hindsight the wicket turned the game in Wallasey's favour.
Kershaw didn't stay around for long after McGladdery's exit, bowled by Matthew Keogh for 10, and Ross Higham played into the hands of Crawley at deep backward square to give Daniel Beaver his second wicket. At 63 for 4 Rainhill looked in some trouble, but the situation was recovered by Ben Edmundson and Rob McKeown. When captain Edmundson was eventually out for 24, he had not only kept Rainhill in the game but given Rainhill an excellent chance of victory. After 17 overs, Rainhill required 18 runs from the final 18 balls for the win that would take them into round two, to meet either Lytham or New Brighton.
"It's like being asked to take a penalty in a shoot-out" quipped one Wallasey fielder as the match entered its tense, final stage. And so it proved. Rainhill didn't manage a boundary in either the 18th or 19th overs, and went into the final over needing 8. It was here that the pressure really took its effect.
Andrew Beaver bowled the final over for the visitors. McKeown hit a single from the first ball. Mark Viggars played at the second, which travelled through to slip, but seemed in two minds as to whether to run. The momentary indecision proved costly and he was run out at the bowler's end. Needing runs, McKeown tried to scamper home for two from the third ball, but was run out following a superb throw.
With Rainhill requiring 6 from three balls, new batsman Simon Brown looked to launch the fourth ball to the rope. Unfortunately for him, and Rainhill, he failed to connect and was stumped by Mykal Graham.
6 from 3 balls had now become 6 from 2 balls. Jack Lowrie found a gap in the field but only one run was scored. Peter Kelly needed to find the boundary with the final ball but the batsmen only managed to run a single, meaning the visitors won by the narrow margin of three runs.
Dark blue had prevailed over green and gold in a gripping contest that had entertained the small but vocal crowd. Wallasey march on, but they were pushed all the way by Rainhill.
Umpires: Norman Edwards, Richard Selkirk
Scorers: Andrew Finney, Craig Kell