Report by Paul Coulton

On a bright and warm afternoon at Clifton Park, the 2nds welcomed Carnforth for their first competitive fixture of the season. Captain Gould set the tone, winning the toss and electing to bat.

Despite the recent cold temperatures, an absence of the expected April showers meant the outfield was dry and rapid. Paul Yates capitalised on this , nonchalantly cutting away a no ball to the boundary. Conversely, the usually reliable Gareth Bleasdale looked at little bit uncomfortable and nicked behind for zero.

Out to the crease strode Captain Gould and immediately set about putting the Carnforth attack to the sword with some swashbuckling stroke play – before disaster struck and the well set Yates was run out (8), reacting to a call for a sharp single. Some say he looked like he was running on sand, others that the captain made his first mate walk the plank. Either way, Yates looked in good nick and a tale of much promise ended as an ode to what might have been.

Out came Adam Murphy (not Coates) and busied himself about the crease, before Gould Senior fell on his sword for 11 (again charging the Carnforth attack) and Gould Junior fell shortly after for 7. Enter Coulton to attempt to steady the ship; which happened to a point without really troubling the scorers.

The curse of the drinks break struck, with Coulton’s feet anchored to the crease, bowled for a meek 3. At 62-5 the good ship Shireshead was in choppy water, but with Adam Murphy on the rudder, joined by Luke Bray, the wind was soon back in the Shires sails. Contrasting stroke play, with Murphy’s elegant drives and cuts and the plundering pulls of Bray accelerated the (new, digital) scoreboard for a superb 109 run partnership.

When Bray holed out for 51, the scoreboard showed a healthy 171 for 6. A quick fire 5 for Adam Coates (not Murphy) and another run from Adam Murphy (not Coates) that should have been a two concluded the innings,. An innings which saw Adam Murphy’s first senior 50 (81*). With quality he demonstrated, this should be the first of many!

The defence of 177 could not have got off to a better start. First Tom McCartney (or now known as Little Jocky) took a well-earned wicket in his spell, his left arm pace and bounce initially causing Carnforth’s right handers all sorts of bother. Then the evergreen Phil Oliver chipped in with 4 wickets in his opening spell, which included a spectacular over that saw 3 Carnforth batsmen perish.

Just when it seemed Shireshead were on course to cruise to victory 45 – 5 quickly became 100-5, with numerous opportunities to edge closer to victory  either put to ground or, as that famous philosopher Gabrielle once said, “Out of Reach”. Both Nelson and Horsfall started tentatively but smashed their way to well-earned 50s.

As Carnforth looked like they were cantering to  victory, wickets from Mike Mead (1) and Paul Yates (2) edged the momentum back towards that of the home team. Could Shires steal a victory that once looked so likely? No, ultimately too little left to defend with too many balls left and whilst it did come down to the last over, the game was really lost midway through Carnforth’s innings.

Not a terrible maiden voyage for the season, with signs of promise and discovery, but could have been so much better!!