Peter Kelly takes 8 for 59 in superb display of spin bowling at Formby
Formby 212-9 (Ryan Brown 49, James Seward 48; Peter Kelly 8-59)
Rainhill 111 (Tyler McGladdery 33, Dave Atkinson 32; Jackson Darkes-Sutcliffe 5-9)
Formby (20 pts) beat Rainhill (5 pts) by 111 runs
There was little indication on Saturday morning that Cricket Path – the picturesque home of Formby Cricket Club with its leafy surroundings and fine clubhouse – was about to stage an extraordinary match. The scene was set for an afternoon of incident and incredible drama and, after some pre-match photos and an impeccably observed minute’s silence in memory of a club official, battle commenced.
As if often the case, the opening skirmishes were unremarkable by comparison with what was to follow. After winning the toss and deciding to bat, Formby’s opening pair of Calum Turner and James Seward moved the score along at a steady pace and seemed more than equal to the questions being asked of them by Rainhill bowlers Jamie Harrison and Liam O’Toole - at least until Turner got a think edge on a delivery from Harrison which was scooped out of the air by Dave Atkinson. With the fall of the wicket, Formby were 56 for 1.
It was a cloudy day with little sun, but there was no rain to worry about. What we were soon to discover was that Peter Kelly’s bowling brought about some precipitation of its own. When Formby had reached 79 without further loss, Rainhill captain Ben Edmundson turned to his spinner. It was an inspired decision that ended with Kelly taking eight wickets in an outstanding display of bowling.
Wicket 1: With Formby looking comfortable and in control at 96 for 1, Kelly began his third over bowling to the home captain who was on 48 and well set to reach his second half-century of the season. Kelly sent down a few teasing deliveries, neither of which went for runs, before the fifth ball of the over deceived Seward and found his pads, prompting a convincing appeal from Rainhill. The umpire’s finger went up and the Formby skipper was left to rue what might have been.
Wicket 2: Formby had responded well to the loss of their captain, with Ryan Brown and Sam Oldham sharing a valuable partnership of 46. With the score on 142, Brown was on 49 and looking to play the single to bring up his 50. Kelly had other ideas, and a perfect length delivery found the stumps.
Wicket 3: Four balls later, the dangerous Sam Oldham edged to Ben Edmudson at slip.
Wicket 4: With the first ball of his next over, Kelly delivered an almost unplayable ball to Sam Ellis. Bowled for 2, Ellis didn’t look terribly impressed but Rainhill’s supporters seemed quite happy. Having taken three wickets in seven balls, Kelly’s contribution seemed potentially match-winning: Formby had been reduced from 142 for 2 to 145 for 5. And better was to come...
Wicket 5: Ollie Sutton and Michael Booth had batted sensibly under pressure to build a healthy partnership worth 26. Sutton’s resistance was ended by a splendid catch by Liam O’Toole, which gave Kelly his first five-wicket haul of 2021.
Wicket 6: Sutton’s dismissal brought Saad Humayun to the crease. He survived three balls before unwisely venturing forward, pushing and missing at a decent length delivery, and was expertly stumped by Simon Brown.
Wicket 7: Formby’s lower order was struggling to deal with Kelly’s spin. Jackson Darkes-Sutcliffe looked to play positively and tried to find the gap in the field but instead only found the hands of Sam Kershaw.
Wicket 8: The next batsman in was Dewi Jones. He tried to play a standard forwarded defensive shot to the first ball he faced, but it somehow found a route onto his pads and he was walking back to the pavilion. Kelly’s last four wickets had fallen for the cost of just two runs and he was now on a hat trick with only Formby’s number 11 standing between him and a ninth wicket...
Unfortunately for Peter Kelly and Rainhill neither the hat-trick nor the “nine for” were to be realised, but such minor disappointment should not detract from a sensational display of bowling from the Rainhill spinner. Not only do his match figures of 8 for 59 represent his best bowling performance in a Rainhill shirt, they’re also the best stats of his career so far – his previous best being the 8 for 79 he took for Liverpool against Orrell Red Triangle in 2018 (also, curiously, in a losing cause).
Formby were clearly unhappy with the 189 for 9 they had posted from 55 overs, as after tea Booth and Powell re-emerged to carry on the innings. The final pair was able to put on 29 as Booth replaced the previous cautious outlook with a more ballistic approach, hitting three huge sixes in the next three overs to move the score on to 212 without further loss. It was, in the context of the match, brilliant “do or die” batting, with every blow meeting with approval from the sizeable home support. In spite of the difficulties playing Kelly’s spin, the home side had amassed what seemed a decent score on a pitch that offered something to batsmen. The question being asked when Formby declared was whether it was going to be enough.
In pursuit of 213 for the win, Rainhill got out of the blocks quickly with openers James Clarke and Tyler McGladdery playing with confidence and, especially in Clarke’s case, some degree of urgency. He scored a quickfire 21 before being caught behind by James Seward off the bowling of Sam Ellis. Sam Kershaw wasn’t able to stay for long, scoring 5 before also edging an Ellis delivery to Seward.
With the score at 39 for 2 McGladdery was joined by Dave Atkinson. Atkinson has had an unlucky start to the season, but he managed to put that behind him and his luck seemed to have changed when he was dropped on 14 as a result of two fielders colliding. Atkinson and McGladdery began to accelerate towards the target, playing some scintillating shots. In the space of seven overs they scored 52 runs and their partnership was beginning to create all kinds of frustrations for Formby.
With the score at 91 and with eight wickets in hand, the visitors looked in total control. Rainhill were easing towards their target, with two experienced batsmen at the crease, and scoring at a rate of six per over on a pitch that looked as flat as a rabbit on the M6. While there was still much to play for, Rainhill had put themselves in a fantastic position.
Just as Formby had struggled when spin was introduced, so too did Rainhill. Sam Ellis, who had bowled well for his two wickets, and Dewi Jones were removed from the attack and replaced with spin duo Jackson Darkes-Sutcliffe and Saad Humayun. In his first over Darkes-Sutcliffe tempted Atkinson to hit out, resulting in a tidy catch for Ollie Sutton; Atkinson had had played aggressively, scoring five 4s and a 6 on his way to 32 from just 22 balls, and the wicket was perhaps due to his over ambitious strokeplay more than anything else. There was nothing to suggest that the most dramatic of dramatic batting collapses was just around the corner.
The new batsman was Ross Higham. He and McGladdery maintained the determination to score quickly and moved the score onto 100. Then Higham was trapped lbw, for 4, by Darkes-Sutcliffe. 100 for 4.
Captain Ben Edmundson was the next man in. He played a nice single to get him off the mark. It was to prove the last run of the day. A couple of balls later he was bowled by a darting ball from Humayun that kept low. 101 for 5.
Jamie Harrison came and went with the next ball, caught by Ryan Brown off Humayun’s bowling. 101 for 6.
This brought Simon Brown to the crease to defend the hat-trick ball, which he did competently. In the next over Tyler McGladdery, who had looked in such good form throughout the afternoon, was adjudged out lbw for 33 off the bowling of Darkes-Sutcliffe. 101 for 7.
The loss of the opening batsman was a blow for Rainhill. Brown followed soon afterwards, caught behind by Calum Turner. It was a contentious decision, but one that stood. 101 for 8.
Would the tail offer some resistance to the onslaught of lethal spin? Sadly not. Liam O’Toole edged behind to wicket-keeper Seward without scoring. 101 for 9.
When Jack Lowrie was caught by Ryan Brown at square leg, Rainhill were all out for 101 and Darkes-Sutcliffe had finished with 5 for 9 from 4.4 overs. Humayun had equally unbelievable figures of 3 for 4 from 4 overs. Of the 19 wickets that fell during the afternoon, all but three of them were taken by spinners.
In the immediate aftermath of the game it was difficult to comprehend what had happened. Batting collapses are a familiar part of club cricket, but the scale of this one – seven wickets falling for just one run – was breathtaking. There were no obvious demons in the pitch and no extraordinary circumstances to account for such a remarkable turnaround. Making sense of what happened on the pitch is ultimately the responsibility of the captain and the players, and no doubt they will be reflecting on how the game turned against them so quickly and so decisively. For those of us watching, it was incredible unrehearsed theatre and whether we were thrilled or simply stunned by it depended on our respective allegiances. Whatever one made of it, there could be no denying it was an electrifying end to an astonishing match.
It wasn’t to be Rainhill’s day and the end to Rainhill’s innings was as inexplicable as it was dramatic. However, it won’t be a game Peter Kelly is likely to forget for altogether more positive reasons.
Umpires: Chris Dunn, Stephen Fildes
Scorers: Kim Miles, Andrew Page
Match ball sponsor: RD Wilkes Optometrists