Shireshead 117 all out Carnforth 118-5
by Mike Park
Nobody will deny the better side won the rubber as title chasers Carnforth defeated a Shireshead side that was as demographically diverse as it was enthusiastic.
With a very small crowd that could be counted on one hand, Twiname elected to bat on a wicket enlivened by overnight drizzle (the stuff that wets you through), and a covering of grass uncharacteristic of recent weeks.
In cricket, the most nostalgia-sodden of sports, few things are ever as good as they once were but skipper Colin Twiname bucks that theory.
Against Carnforth he notched up his fourth half century of the season with a masterclass of patience, shot selection and stroke play, in particular his cut, which was the stroke of a man knocking a thistle top with a walking stick.
He and Rob Skipworth accumulated a partnership of 63 before Skipworth, 30, gloved an off-break from Barlow and walked before he was given out, much to the appreciation of the visitors, and the dismay of the hosts.
Burns fell cheaply and Oliver Wilkinson, 12, (runs not age), making his second team debut batted with a confidence that belies his years as he hit two sumptuous boundaries before mistiming a drive back to bowler Barlow
From then on the innings stuttered and faltered as the veteran Bradley bowled a lean nine-over spell of 3-11. From the other end, Barlow used the angles to his advantage taking 3-31.
Coulton, Park and Dugdale rued the missed opportunities to advance the scoring in the last 15 overs, all falling cheaply when the innings needed experience and impetus.
The return of the bristling, burly figure of Rich, 4-32, mopped up the tail and the innings faltered to a paltry 117 all out.
Opting for extreme youth in the shape of Will Gaskell and extreme experience in the shape of Mal Taylor, captain Twiname got what he asked for at tea as Carnforth shuddered to 10 for 3 in 3 overs.
Pearcy was pocketed in the accepting midriff of Twiname at slip from Taylor. Soon after, Saunders lobbed a dolly back to bowler Gaskell, and as Boycott once said, “I reckon my mum could have caught that in her pinny!”
Gaskell spilt the catch with some style but he was soon reprieved after as some smart work by effervescent point fielder Wilkinson saw a speedy return throw which the diving Coulton grasped like an oversized salmon returning upstream, and ran out Saunders for just two.
Gaskell and Park removed Bragg and Holmes caught behind by Burns and Twiname respectively and at 58 for 5 after 15 overs the home crowd (up to nine by this time) were dreaming.
Enter Dugdale, cagey and circumspect, wary of the increasingly fickle surface at first, then began to expose his repertoire playing cuts so late as to be positively posthumous.
He decided to chance his arm and it came off, his lofted drives clearing the infield and releasing the pressure applied by Danson and Park.
Taking 12 off one Park overturned the tide towards the visitors and despite efforts of Jamie Butlin with his leg spin Dugdale (56 not out) sped the visitors to victory in the 27thover with five wickets still remaining.