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So near and yet so far

Recreationals' valiant resistance unable to secure draw

Frodsham 202-5 (Mark Clement 50*, Andy Jones 1-10) Rainhill 86 (Andy Jones 10, Chris Fennel 2-16) Frodsham beat Rainhill by 116 runs

Rainhill Recreationals lost to Frodsham, but a tenth-wicket stand from Joe Crossley and Anna Page almost earned them a draw.

On a windy afternoon (so windy that the game had to be played without bails) Frodsham batted first and their openers played positively from the outset. Rainhill made the breakthrough when Ben Wilkinson managed to find a bit of movement and a path through to Nick Corless's off stump to dismiss Frodsham's veteran opener for 17. Chris Fennel fell victim to Richard Appleton's off spin when he was bowled for 9, while Scott Clegg took a deserved wicket when John Hope was caught by wicketkeeper Andrew Page for 3.

Frodsham rallied, however. This was due in no small part to Rainhill's Tony Wilkinson, who had volunteered to play for the opposition as they were a player short. (Actually, that's not entirely accurate: Tony had been volunteered by his son, Ben, who fancied his chances of getting his dad out.) Tony got off the mark with a straight drive for four, but was in trouble when Ian Mosquito deceived him with a slow ball and Andrew Page made what looked like a great stumping - however, the umpire was deep in conversation with a fielder at square leg and so missed the incident. Tony Wilkinson not only survived but began to play some surprisingly assured shots - he was eventually out for 41, bowled by a superb delivery from Andy Jones that clipped the top of off stump. Finnlee Millar, making his senior debut, also bowled well and took the wicket of Adam Crosby for 29. However, Mark Clement made a fantastic unbeaten half-century and, despite the wickets, Frodsham scored at a decent rate and declared with the score on 202 for 5.

Rainhill's innings got off to a dismal start as Scott Clegg and Mayank Bali were out without scoring. Things got worse when Richard Appleton was caught at square leg and the hosts were on 7 for 3. However, Rainhill's middle order offered some resistance, with several batters playing themselves in - the problem was that none were able to go on and make a bigger score, with only Andy Jones getting into double figures. Jones was out when Nick Corless had a sensational catch at slip, high to his right, that was so good that it was entered into the scorebook as "caught. Super catch. N. Corless". Tony Wilkinson committed the unforgiveable sin when he bowled son Ben for 8. Rainhill battled on but when Finnlee Millar was caught they were on 74 for 9 with around 20 overs of play remaining. If there are two people you'd want in a situation like this then they're Joe Crossley and Anna Page. Joe's ability to occupy the crease for long periods is legendary, while Anna has built something of a reputation this year as someone who doesn't give her wicket away easily. Her performances against Prescot, Nantclwyd and Hightown St Mary's suggest she has the ability to be the Chris Tavaré of Rainhill. For the best part of 18 overs the pair withstood some probing and pretty accurate bowling from Frodsham's spinners, with an attacking field reminscent of Test matches in India. Scoring was difficult but, by this stage, that was academic and potentially a distraction from the mission to bat out to the end.

Joe and Anna blocked, weaved, occasionally scampered for singles, and generally frustrated Frodsham - putting on 12 runs in the process - until, in the ultimate over, Anna was bowled by a full toss. It was disappointing for Rainhill who were 3 balls away from a draw, but the final-wicket stand had been brilliant to watch and had put some excitement into a game that Frodsham looked to have wrapped up an hour before.

Frodsham played well throughout and, as is always the case between these two sides, the game was played in a brilliant spirit. We look forward to visiting them on 10th July.

Umpires: Paul Millar, Adrian Breeze, Joe Crossley Scorer: David Crossley

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