Big win for 2nd XI but 1sts lose at Southport.
Sam Williamson's performances underline enormous potential
1st XI: No fun at the seaside
Rainhill 88 (Ross Higham 25, Sam Williamson 20*; Chris Firth 5-38) Southport & Birkdale 89-1 (JJ Fielding 56*, Aryan Juyal 29*; Khalid Usma 1-39) Southport & Birkdale (25pts) beat Rainhill (0pts) by 9 wickets Scorecard Rainhill's 1st XI remain winless in 2023 after a miserable defeat at Southport & Birkdale. Having won the toss, Rainhill opted to bat on a good-looking pitch. Southport's opening bowlers, Chris Firth and Tom Crew, created difficulties for Rainhill from the outset but the breakthrough came when James Clarke was run out when attempting a second run that wasn't really there. Rainhill's top order offered little resistance as they slipped from 6 for 0 to 20 for 4, aside from Ross Higham who played positively and purposefully. As long as Higham was at the crease a recovery looked possible and, with Rob McKeown, he took the score to 54. Just as it looked as if the pair and weathered the storm and had begun to assert themselves, Rainhill experienced a double disaster. Firstly, Higham was bowled by Firth for 25 and then - two balls later - captain Paul Ford, who had played so courageously against Northern the previous week, suffered the same fate. When McKeown was caught by Chris Cunningham off the bowling of spinner Bobby Wincer, Rainhill had slumped to 62 for 7.
Once again it was left to Sam Williamson to lead by example and the number 8 batsman offered some defiance against the determined Southport attack. He was assisted initially by Jamie Harrison and the duo added 23 runs for the eighth wicket. However, once Harrison had departed for 9 neither Jack Lowrie nor Liam O'Toole were able to stay around for long and Williamson ran out of partners. He finished on 20 from 38 balls - not enough to make an impact on the outcome but certainly a performance that underlines his potential. Chris Firth finished with bowling figures of 5 for 38. Chasing a very modest target, Southport & Birkdale lost an early wicket when Jack Stanley fell for 0 after James Clarke took a catch at short leg off Khalid Usman. That gave Rainhill hope, but JJ Fielding and Aryan Jayal negotiated some tricky opening overs before picking up the pace. Once they had played themselves in they looked secure and Fieldling's aggressive strokeplay saw him make an impressive unbeaten 56 from 51 deliveries. Overseas professional Jayal also played some fluent shots in an entertaining contribution of 29 not out as the hosts reached the target from just 15.5 overs.
2nd XI: Ton for Calarco
Rainhill 204-7 (Aidan Calarco 129, Simon Brown 25; Craig Aspey 5-12) Highfield 129 (Daniel Brown 33, James Taylor 27; Tony Bullock 4-37) Rainhill (25pts) beat Highfield (6pts) by 75 runs Scorecard
The 2nd team secured their first win of the season with a superb performance at home to Highfield. The victory was due in no small measure to an outstanding opening partnership of 154 between Aidan Calarco and Simon Brown. Australian all-rounder Calarco hit an enthralling 129 from 98 balls - including an astonishing 8 fours and 11 sixes - as his devastating batting put the hosts firmly in control. Calarco's swashbuckling innings came to an end when he was bowled by Lee Martinus. Calarco's innings had been ferocious and unsparing but he was aided in his opening stand by Simon Brown, whose contrasting but complementary methodical approach was also crucial in Rainhill's success. His patient resistance reaped dividends and his 105-ball knock of 25 against a useful Highfield attack built a solid platform for Rainhill. When Brown eventually departed - also bowled by Martinus - The home side were on 161 for 2. Paul Millar hit a quick 16 from 19 balls but no other Rainhill batter reached double figures as Craig Aspey took five wickets in seven overs to earn Highfield some useful bowling points and restrict Rainhill to a total of 204-7.
To their credit Highfield batted positively credit but lost regular wickets with only Daniel Brown (33), James Taylor (27), Matt Purcell (22) and Matthew Wallace (17) making contributions of note. Sam Addy (3-20) and Tony Bullock (4-37) did most of the damage for Rainhill as the visitors were bowled out for 129. Rainhill are currently sitting in fifth place in the league ahead of Saturday's trip to New Brighton. Umpires: John Veacock
Scorers: David Crossley, Peter Armistead
Disappointingly, both the 3rd team's match versus Orrell Red Triangle and the Recreationals' game against Darwen were cancelled due to adverse weather.
Recreationals: T20 fun on Bank Holiday Monday
Rainhill 84-4 - net score 264 (April Jones 15*, Andy Jones 13*; Martin Snape 1-5, Steve Fowle 1-10) Lord Rockingham's XI 90-6 - net score 260 (Ian Addy 15*, Sam Addy 14*; Reuben Paterson 2-1, Anna Page 1-5) Rainhill beat Lord Rockingham's XI by 4 runs
The Recreationals did manage to play a game on bank holiday Monday - a 10 a-side pairs T20 match. the opposition was Lord Rockingham's XI, a mixture of Recreational captain Andi Page's former work colleagues and various junior players and parents associated with the club. Some of them were playing cricket for the first time in many years, although some - such as Ian and Sam Addy - will be well known to Rainhill followers as accomplished players
As Andi played for the opposition, Anna Page took charge of the Recreationals' side - as far as we know this is the first time a female player has captained any senior team at Rainhill. Andy and April Jones were the opening batting pair for the Recreationals and added 19 in the first four overs without loss. Stuart Brown (12) and Chirag Shroff (6) also played sensibly and helped put the Recreationals in a good position. Unfortunately wickets began to fall soon afterwards; Peter Paterson was run out by Ian Addy and then Steve Fowle and Martin Snape took a wicket a piece as suddenly runs ceased to flow. Anna Page added 9 while Erin Jones was joined by sister April at the end; despite Lewis Henderson picking up a late wicket the innings closed with the score on 84 for 4 - a net score of 264. There could have been more wickets - most obviously when Ian Addy dropped a seemingly straightforward catch at square leg off Andi Page - but overall the score was a fair reflection of the play. Things started very positively for Lord Rockingham's XI with opening pair Ian and Sam Addy adding 29. The second partnership of Matt Diggins and James Tierney lost three wickets with Reuben Paterson taking 2 for 1 in two overs, but Andi Page and Deepak Gupta restored supremacy as they added 20. There seemed little doubt about the winner - but then the game radically turned around due to a combination of fielding changes, batting indecision and some crucial wickets. Steve Fowle and Martin Snape didn't look in serious risk of losing wickets but they were unable to find the gaps in the field. When Fowle played a lovely leg glance the pair inexplicably refused the runs. Snape played some nice drives and the pair ran a few singles but on the whole they were limited by good bowling and a tight field. The failure to put many runs on the board meant the final pair of Mackenzie and Lewis Henderson had some work to do. To their credit they played some good shots, but the loss of three wickets proved costly. Anna Page, April Jones and Chirag Shroff all took a wicket each to ensure a tight finish to a very friendly but closely contested match. At the close of the match no-one was quite sure of the score, but after two recounts (sounds like an election) it was confirmed that Anna's Recreationals had won by 4 runs. Andi Page was left to curse a dropped catch. Rainhill Player of the Match: April Jones
U11 Spartans: Season opens with great efforts against Hightown St Mary's
Rainhill's U11s Spartans team kicked off their 2023 season on Monday evening at home to a very talented Hightown St Mary's team. It wasn't an easy game for them but the team acquitted themselves well with everyone contributing something. This was the first game at U11s level for many of the team, and some were playing their first cricket match of any kind. Rainhill batted first and, in spite of losing several wickets, finished on a creditable 228 for 9. Everyone applied themselves and newcomer Aaron hit a lovely legside shot, while Xanthe was proud of keeping her wicket intact. Rainhill didn't get the luck they perhaps deserved with their bowling, but they showed they have some gifted bowlers and some of the fielding was excellent. Team manager Ken Rustidge summarised: "it was a good first game for the Spartans today. It was pleasing to see players new to hardball cricket quickly picking up the skills. A special mention to Joseph Saunders who made a great stop [attempting a caught and bowled] but was hit on the knee." The Spartans' next game will be away at Rainford on Friday 12th May.