Report by Paul Coulton

Against the melody of the Sound of Silence (Hello darkness my old friend) Simon Gould’s Shires 2nd team travelled to Ingleton, riding a wave of confidence following a superb 20:20 victory on Thursday Prior.

If Westmoreland Cricket League Division 2 ever needed anymore advertising, this game would be the poster boy, in the style of a 90’s American burger advert. You want fine knocks? you got it. You want great catches? you got it. You want dropped catches? you got it. You want drugs scandals? (in the shape of a marijuana cloud engulfing the pitch) you got! You want controversial decisions? You got it. You want Luke Bray’s magic, magnetic boot? You got it! You want rain delays? You got it! You want injury? You got it! You want sledging? You got it! You want one of the most bizarre and drawn out matches that had nearly everything? You got it!!

That’s the summary; here’s what actually happened. After winning the toss (in contrast to the wisdom in the team highlighting the wet nature of the outfield) Capt. Gould elected to bat first and was vindicated near immediately as Bleasedale and Yates set about building a decent first innings total. Both batsmen looked in fine fettle until P.Yates rather meekly played on for 9 before Gould Senior and Junior arrived and departed for 4 and 5 respectively; the first and not the last to fall foul of the uneven bounce on offer. At some point Bleasedale fell for a useful 39 using the text book to keep the ball out and then mowing anything wayward. Coulton joined the accelerating Murphy at the crease and looked solid before darkness fell and with it, the rain came. Whilst both umpire and home captain seemed eager to call an end to things the ever-astute Gould hatched a plan that meant should the rain ease a competitive game could continue shortly before 1700 with the plan of losing no time to the weather.  With the instruction to accelerate, Murphy and Coulton set about doing that with Murphy (77*) consistently powering the ball to the boundary and Coulton following suit (but replace boundary with fielder). When Coulton became the fourth victim to uneven bounce in what became the final over for 9, the pair had put on 53 across 10 overs. P.Oliver contributed with a strong leg bye before Capt Gould declared (at 171/5 off 40) meaning Ingleton could have their full 45 overs and more importantly the chance for Shires to push for a second win in 72 hours. A further quality innings from A.Murphy can’t be ignored with the batsmen again looking unflustered both in defence and attack mode.

With some wonderfully accurate and astute coaching tips ringing in his ears, the emerging Tom McCartney put those words into practice, allowing the pitch to do the work removing the dangerous Graham Kellet for the first ball of the innings. Whilst calls from the home side for a double bounce no ball were unfounded, Kellet was tremendously unlucky…. many a batsmen had already perished by a low ball, in this case, post pitching, the ball shot along at 7 mm above the deck until its rendez vous with the middle stump.   A slightly odd period followed where Shires were on top but couldn’t find the breakthrough with Mead, J.Gould and P.Yates putting chances down with the latter two arriving in consecutive balls from the bowling of Yates. As the game seemed to be damply sliding toward a draw, an unfortunate incident whereby Ingelton’s other opener badly pulled up and retired with hamstring injury. It was at this stage events went from odd to bizarre. Following a debate about the merits of helmet wearing as a wicket keeper, unfortunately one of the Ingleton batsmen took a blow to face and it doing so fell onto his own wickets from Greenwoods bowling. The increasingly vocal home support then began to contest Greenwod’s (who was bowling at the time) action, and despite protestations to the umpires about previously having it verified officially, Gould had to reluctantly take Greenwood out of the attack. This only accelerated the introduction of Phil Oliver into the bowling attack who took a superb three wickets for three runs and with it, broke Ingleton’s resolve. In the overs that followed there seemed to be an internal debate within the home team, seeing one batsman leave the field before even batting. After fine catches from Bleasedale and J.Gould (note these could have happened at any point in the innings) and some tidy bowling by M Mead, L.Bray wrapped up the innings with two wickets – the second being a special delivery that moved in the air off the pitch to end Tom Brown’s resistance.

You want Positive cricket? You’ve got it with Shires 2nds!!