Report by Paul Coulton
On a steamy afternoon, Si Gould led his depleted 2nd team out against Carnforth with Shireshead looking to regain their league form following a humbling defeat to Westgate a week previous. Retribution of sorts in the mid week 20:20 victory over Westgate helped confidence levels, however a threadbare squad, impacted by covid isolation, injury and school matches did mean the confidence could only go as far as Scotland in an international tournament.
The bowling department was the main casualty with Luke “high class baguette” Bray, Mike “Magic Fingers” Mead and Andy “Hams” Weir all absent and whilst Paul “Metronome” Yates was in the side, a continuing shoulder injury was preventing him from rolling his arm. Fortunately, Governor Gould was on the right side of the toss and elected to bat.
Shireshead history was made (possibly) as Yates and Coulton made their way to the crease, the first time (maybe) in the clubs history that a pair of Pauls have opened the batting. The opening overs were cagey as the pair of Pauls prodded, probed and poked on a pitch that was offering enough to keep the bowling team interested. Five overs into the innings the Paul who is tall (Coulton) started taking the initiative, punishing the bad balls in each over with a flurry of pulls and drives. The other Paul, who is not as tall as the aforementioned Paul but is still quite tall came to the party and the pair of Pauls who we have established are both reasonably tall pleasingly progressed to a pleasingly, productiove fifty partnership. And then disaster, as the taller (and heavier) Paul (Coulton) perished on 33, playing late on the second ball from the first change bowler, chopping the ball onto his pads before hitting the stumps.
Captain Gould marched to the crease, pleased with the positive platform provided by the Pauls, whilst eying up the short boundary on offer. Unfortunately, at the the first opportunity he could not get hold of a wayward delivery and was caught on the boundary edge. This brought Adam Murphy (not Coates) to the crease and for a 6 over period, play was attritional, with Murphy looking scratchy and Paul Yates happy to keep his wickets intact. At 25 overs things starting to click for the batting pair who went on to enjoy a 119 run partnership before Murphy fell for 58 from 62 balls (with the majority of the runs coming from high class and fluid stroke play). Gould Jnr and J Sutcliffe came and went before P Oliver joined Paul Yates to bludgeon 21 off 5 balls, with Shireshead reaching 198/5 of their rain reduced 42 overs with Paul Yates carrying his bat for a well paced, pragmatic and pleasing 70 not out.
Whilst showcasing an inexperienced, patched together bowling attack with talks of Adam (Murphy not Coates) and Coulton being called on to bowl, Shireshead had nothing to worry about; though scoring well ahead of the rate, Carnforth fell to 48 for 8 by the 12th. The master Oliver with 4 wickets and the apprentice McCartney also with 4 wickets. The highlights reel includes sharp catches from both Gould Senior and Gould Junior, wily bowling from Oliver (to bowl one Carnforth batsmen around his legs), and a dubious but favourable McCartney LBW decision. Young Tom Atkinson came to the party with a wicket of his own and should have two to wrap up the game, only for Coulton to inexplicably shell a straightforward steepler at mid-on, made to look all the more village (see what I did there) by confidently putting his name on it before allowing the ball to strike his chest instead of his hands before meekly dropping to the ground. The next 8 overs were very uncomfortable for the self nominated DoD, whilst a last wicket stand of 130 were unlikely, an apocalyptic weather forecast could have spoilt shires day. Ultimately, Elliot Dean ended Coulton’s anxieties by trapping Carnforth’s top scorer (L Rogerson) LBW for 49. Whilst emotionally, that one ball did so much for so many, it also sealed an emphatic 101 run win for the Shires.