Silverdale CC vs. Gregson CC

10 April 2021 at Silverdale

Laboratory mice, despite having been bred in captivity over many generations, still become fearful at the sound of an owl’s cry. Humans, based on their tree dwelling ancestral past, have an innate fear of falling. It’s called genetic memory.

It was only such pre-COVID genetic memories that allowed the Gregson CC players to find their kit, don their whites, sanitise their box and head out to Silverdale for what was dimly recalled as ‘a game of cricket’.

They arrived on a sunny, but threateningly cold, April morning to find Silverdale CC on the outfield doing fielding drills. High, spiralling balls were being caught with ease, diving slip catches were being pouched, long barrier fielding positions were entered into with grace and followed up with fast, flat, accurate returns to the keeper.

Clearly such an overt challenge for dominance needed a strong retort, and in the true spirit of the Gregson, the team responded by rolling cigarettes, engaging in a few desultory stretches, and discussing their fantasy football teams.

Morrison lost the toss and the Gregson were sent into the field. The honour of the season’s first delivery went to Waddell, who immediately speared it down the leg side. It was as though we’d never been away…

Mason and Letcher, the Silverdale openers, played out the first few overs with respectful care, profiting from Sutton’s dropped dolly in the covers. It was Deighton who made the breakthrough in the sixth over with a ball which nipped in from outside off, defeating Letcher’s (12) defences and hitting middle stump. Connor (30) joined the fray, and it took a sharp catch in the covers from Sumsion off debutant Pickles’ bowling to stop him from continuing his assault on the leg side boundary.

Greenall (18) was unlucky to fall to a catch off Jacques that combined the best of the IPL with the worst of Cirque du Soleil. An uppish straight drive flew towards mid off where Williamson and Murphy converged on the chance. Williamson overran the catch but managed to parry it up into the air like a Brazilian beach volleyball player setting up the winning spike, and Murphy reacted by diving forward to take the rebound mere inches above the turf.

Jacques immediately followed up with a peach of a delivery, which saw Alker (0) comprehensively bowled as he attempted to come down the pitch, After Mason (51*) graciously retired, Silverdale were 121-5 and, if not exactly becalmed, were at least being contained.

Dougan (retired 51*) and Forster (46*) soon put paid to any risk of a Silverdale collapse with a flurry of boundaries (often through the legs of the despairing Gregson fielders) and the Gregson’s only other wicket came off the last ball of the innings, where Waddell deservedly took a catch off his own bowling to dismiss Mason (6).

Facing 233 to win the Gregson started well. Barker (16), clearly relishing the chance to shine against his ‘parent’ club, thumped a couple of boundaries before being bowled by Beck, and Pickles (5) did not disgrace himself on his batting debut. Jacques (24) and Sumsion (retired 53*) shared a profitable partnership, with both favouring stylish shots through the covers rather than the more usual hoicks to cow corner.

When Jacques succumbed leg before to Beck, the Gregson were 72-3 at the halfway stage. Behind the run rate for sure, but with Sutton next man in, there was anticipation of a Ben Stokes-like innings to bring us home. Alas it was not to be as Dougan ripped out Sutton’s (0) off stump, setting up the first potential Hilda of the season.

McAllister (8) was nearly run out by Murphy before he was unlucky to get a ball that cannoned off both pads before dribbling into the stumps and when Murphy (3) was run out thanks to a direct hit from Greenall, the Gregson were left on 126-7 with only two overs to go.

If ever a pair of batsmen were designed to see out a boring finish it would be Deighton (1*) and Morrison (1*), but the entertainment was not quite done. Silverdale’s man mountain of a fast bowler, Greenall, took the last over to a quivering Deighton. It was like watching Phil Tuffnell facing Malcom Marshall. As each ball rocketed past the stumps, there was a clear dichotomy in Deighton’s approach. Get the bat on it or just get out of the way? When the penultimate ball came out as a beamer and headed straight towards his face, it took a hasty, but effective, placement of the right thumb to preserve his self-described boyish good looks.

The Gregson finished on 129-7. Although a loss by 103 runs looks bad in the scorebook, the overall performance against a league-standard team was admirable and bodes well for the rest of the season.

We’d like to thank Silverdale for their hospitality and playing the match in the friendly spirit it was intended. All the very best for your season and see you again in 2022!

Ra ra!

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