Unlucky Rainhill lose at Rainford by 6 runs
Rainford 82-5 (Harry Westerside 22, Callum Potter 16; Sam Addy 2-10)
Rainhill 76-7 (Motsim Khan 33, Stevie Pennington 18; Rhys Potter 2-12)
Rainford (3 pts) beat Rainhill (0 pts) by 6 runs
On a sunny Wednesday evening, despite a creditable bowling performance restricting Rainford to 82 runs from 20 overs, Rainhill’s u15 team just couldn’t find the gaps in the field and eventually capitulated in a disappointing run-chase which has left them struggling for form in the league.
The opening strike bowlers of Stevie Pennington and Ned Brougham allowed openers Callum Potter and Harry Westerside little room in the first 8 overs with only 28 runs coming from the spell. Gianni Albanese and Sam Addy continued to apply the pressure, although a few dropped catches let Rainford off the hook. Gianni struck first removing Westerside for 22 in the 13th over and, with Callum Potter run out for 16 after a quick throw from Kieran Rose in the 15th, Rainford were being reeled in and the runs were drying up.
In his 4th over Sam Addy bowled Ben Gilbert for 4 and the next ball had Joe Duffy caught by Gianni to set up a hat-trick chance, but an over-pitched delivery allowed Bharati to block it away for no runs. The brakes had been pulled on the Rainford innings and, when Adam Lawler bowled Bharati for 6 in the penultimate over, it looked like Rainhill had achieved their aim of setting themselves an achievable target. Rainford ended on 82 for 5 from 20 overs.
Motsim Khan and Kieran Rose took to the wicket and although Kieran’s first contribution was to turn a legside delivery beautifully, and characteristically, round the corner for four runs, his next was to chip one to midwicket for a catch which brought Stevie Pennington to the middle after the 3rd ball of the innings.
A curious thing then happened.
Motsim and Stevie can bat and their technique was there for us all to see but time and again a beautifully played drive or pull found itself drawn inexorably to the hands of a fielder. It really was interesting. A partisan onlooker would have called “jinx” and looked round for the nearest black cat to dodge or ladder to kick over. The Rainford spectators would probably point more to thoughtful, masterful field placing. In any case what we saw was stroke after well-executed stroke rewarded with - at best - singles, when ordinarily you would expect the eccentric wobble of the umpire’s hand.
Motsim and Stevie played sensible, patient cricket. Lots of overs, no need to panic or rush, take your time, pick the bad ball and tick off those runs…. except, soon the overs were racking up and then they were racing by and Rainhill’s score stayed resolutely on a slight rather than steep trajectory. You could sense their unease, the slight frustration at not getting one through to the boundary and then despair at just not getting on with it. Encouragement from the sidelines turned to reminders about the run rate turned to calls-to-arms and instructions to sprint for everything, anything.
And then in the 17th over, with 21 runs to get, it got weirder still.
Sensing the match slipping by and with batters waiting to come in knowing that they probably needed to start swinging from the off, Rainhill sadly fell apart. Motsim was caught by Rhys Potter from Olly Lang’s bowling and then first Sam Addy was run out and the very next ball. Stevie was then himself run out, all in the space of three balls.
Sam’s was one of those dismissals that has you craning your neck and rubbing your forehead. A straight drive down the ground by Stevie had the bowler reflexively reaching for the ball whereby it brushed his fingers before crashing into the stumps. Sam had taken a stride forward and was out of his crease and… oh well, I’m afraid that is out. Don’t see them often…. It happens. Better when it happens to the other team though, right?
The next over continued the slightly odd conveyor-belt feel to proceedings as Gianni Albanese and then Asher Sohail fell on consecutive balls. Rainhill’s line-up could not get ready quickly enough to keep up with the fall of wickets as they had gone from 62 for 1 in the 16th over to 70 for 6 by the end of the 18th over.
With 13 runs required from 12 balls, Ollie Unsworth had joined Amber Bowie at the crease and the evening took on the familiar tension of a T20 under lights replete with “oohs” and “aahs” from an enraptured crowd. Ollie was bowled by Rhys Potter, after which Thomas Lewis and Amber tried valiantly to put bat on ball and run, run, run. Unfortunately, it was not enough and Rainhill ended 7 runs short of victory - a thoroughly fed-up side, left scratching their heads.
Sometimes these games happen, and you just need to breathe deeply and move on to the next one where maybe everything you hit finds a big gap and everyone on the opposing side is nicknamed ‘butterfingers’. Until then there’s hard work in the nets and a bit of catching practice to come.
S Addy (C)
O Unsworth (WK)
Many thanks to Craig Brougham for the match report.