On a damp and dreary Saturday afternoon, more associated with an autumnal stroll followed by a Bovril by the fire than cricket, Shireshead 2nds took on lowly Ingleton, in a bid to cement their title credentials. Opting to bat first at the triumph of toss, Gould sent Skipworth and Paul out onto what was a genuinely sticky wicket. Both openers faired well, without troubling the scorers too much, which was lucky as more time was spent with IT support trying to light up the score board to lift the gloom than observing the game.

A moment of excitement briefly interrupted the gloom, but not the cricket, it was Coulton making a hash of herding the second biggest flock of ducks to be seen in Forton since the duck farm on winder lane closed in 1897. Ducks off the pitch, Skipworth (sporting some Boon esque facial furniture) started to become more fluid with a flurry cuts and pulls. Whilst scoring still remained slow on a tricky surface, all was calm in the dank, mizzley grimness. Then a flurry of a wickets, first fell Paul Yates (to one that seemed to stick in the pitch affording it a free pass through the gate), then Capt Gould trapped on the foot without scoring…. Then Coulton next to suffer the indignity of a duck (how ironic having chased so many) tamely offering a caught and bowled to a rank full toss, that in one scene epitomised the day.

Bleasedale was next, looked good, then got out, followed by J.Gould who looked good, then got out, followed by L.Bray, who looked good then got out. Skipworth caressed his way to 77, looked good, and then got out. Youngsters Ben and Tom, no Tom and Ben, actually it was Ben and Tom looked promising, before getting out (the latter or the former caught by his dad in the ultimate act of parenting sh!thousery). Somewhere is there Will Greenwood looked good and did n’t get out, and Alex Bantleman didn’t look good and got out. So there it was; a dank, dismal, dawdling 130/9 of 45 overs…. But could it have actually been enough?

Then the genuine excitement. Mizzle turned to drizzle, idle chat turned to a gentle jog. A gentle jog with the covers turned into shear horror. L.Bray exclaiming, “my chicken is falling out of my wrap – there’s some on the cover, my chicken, my chicken, my chicken” (at least it was not duck!). A furious Bray and a hysterical Coulton continued with the cover task at hand. Bray senior at the other end… and then for the quote of the day from Bray “you can’t pull a cover”. Think the emotion of tom cruise in a few good men (you can’t handle the truth) with the anger of man who has lost half of his wrap in the middle of a field, in the rain.

Highlight of the day over, and over to the first over of the ingleton response. Over. Things started well for shires, dangerman Graham Kellet being caught sharply by the ever involved skipworth from the bowling of ben brown (definitely ben and not tom). Ingleton ticked along nicely, punishing four balls when they were offered, but always kept in check…. Six-for-hero and all round nice guy Gareth Bleasedale chipping in with a couple of wickets, and a text book caught behind conjured between Gould Junior and Senior and at 40 odd for 4 and 80 for 5, Ingleton were looking like they may be starting to get stuck in the mud. Was 130 enough? No, ultimately from that point on the pressure couldn’t be maintained and a good innings from veteran John Reid, saw Ingleton home comfortably in end.

A damp mood in the shires 2’s dressing room. It’s not washed away the title challenge, but more performances like that can be ill afforded.