26 May 2019 at Bolton By Bowland

Gregson won the toss and elected to field

A fixtures mixup over the preceding week led to the Gregson agreeing to play Bolton By Bowland rather than Wyre in what would be the first of a three-match season series against their old rivals. Heavy rain overnight had put the game at risk but improving weather and some fine work by the groundsman led to a late afternoon 35 over game being possible.

Gregson won the toss and elected to field, Deighton and Murphy chosen to bowl the opening spells. As always, the batsmen of Bolton By Bowland offered a stiff challenge. Although Burgess (18) was caught at mid off from Murphy’s bowling early on, K Lloyd and Armer came together for the first of a series of partnerships that the Gregson struggled to break.

Both batsmen scored quick 50s, thanks in part to the plethora of full tosses chucked down by the Gregson bowlers in what seemed to be a concerted effort not to let the ball touch the pitch, before Waddell had Armer (55) caught by Sumsion and Pye had K Lloyd (66) trapped lbw walking across his stumps.

The wickets brought little in the way of respite with Kelly and J Lloyd continuing to pile on the runs. Eventually the full chicken dinner of Metcalfe tempted Kelly (35) down the pitch for Morrison to complete the stumping followed by J Lloyd (73) smacking a ball back to bowler Sumsion who clung on for his third catch of the match (we won’t mention the other two he dropped…)

A missed stumping of Stott off Hughes was not the keeper’s finest hour, but salvation for Morrison’s pride came off the final ball of the match as he gratefully took the second chance. Stott (19) was stumped off Hughes leaving Perry (9*) not out at the other end for an imposing Bolton By Bowland total of 293 – 6.

A good start was needed, and it was delivered. Boundaries initially flowed off the Gregson openers’ bats before Bush nipped one through to breach Lee’s (15) defences. Hughes has been a model of consistency this season, regularly contributing cameo 20s and 30s to the total but this time he went further. Ten boundaries brought him close to the half century, which he duly completed with a six over mid wicket that left Reynolds forced to recover the ball from the river off his own bowling. Bolton By Bowland may be excellent at cricket, but respect for their elders is sorely missing…

After Sumsion (10) had tamely held out the bat to edge through to the keeper, Hughes eventually fell to Armer for 66 – a run for each year of his life. If only all the Gregson batsmen could do the same, a total in excess of 400 would be scored every match.

Generally little interrupts the gentle banter of those Gregsonites in the pavilion waiting for their opportunity to bat or rueing their recent misfortune against the slings and arrows of slow medium pacers, but as Perry thudded the ball into McAllister’s pads all conversation stopped. The wind died down to a gentle murmur, birds returned to their perches, and a solitary lamb let out a plaintive ‘Baa?’.

As the world held its collective breath, all eyes turned to umpire Sumsion. A moment’s stillness – giving lie to the evident turmoil in his mind – then the finger was raised. McAllister (15) was out!

When even the Dry Stone Wall is crumbling, what hope is there for others? Murphy (4) and Morrison (1) both flashed outside their offstump to offer sharp catches, and Metcalfe (11), the sole remaining not out batsman of the season, fell to a dolly in the covers. Pye (11*) and Waddell (3*) led a final charge over the last three overs, but to no avail. The Gregson finished on 150 – 7, and Bolton By Bowland lead the series 1 – 0 going into the return leg next week.

Another loss for the Gregson, but there is always a positive spin. Having spoken to commentators across the political spectrum this weekend they assure me that if you add together all the runs made by cricket teams that weren’t playing Bolton By Bowland on Sunday, the Gregson was clearly on the winning side. So that’s all good then.

Ra ra!

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