Ramsbottom won by 10 runsOn a day when half the team would have not looked out of place in the orthopaedic ward at Fairfield the Rams somehow conjured a maximum points victory at Crompton.

To say this was a good performance would be gilding the lily but sometimes you have to win ugly. With the late withdrawal of skipper Tom Parton suffering from Delhi Belly – John Fielding was brought back into the team to take over the captain-ship role. John was a slightly risky choice as he had been suffering from a groin strain which had kept him out for the last couple of weeks but he was adamant that in the position we were, he play.

Having won the toss, John gambled on batting first ,knowing that there would be plenty in the wicket for the spinners and that the wicket would only deteriorate as time went on. Once again we suffered a disastrous start as Alex Olpin was bowled in the first over with no runs on the board. This brought together Dale Gabriel and Michael Howarth, who’ve both predominantly played 2nd team cricket this year, with Dale captaining that squad. Both showed great tenacity on a difficult track and although scoring was slow they managed to take us into the late 30’s before Dale, who was the main run scorer in the partnership, perished playing on while trying to force the pace. Sub Pro Ash Zaidi then joined Michael and he batted with great sense waiting for the bad ball which he put away and the score slowly. Michael’s vigil ended when he was bowled with one that kept low. Although he had only scored 18 off 64 balls this was a valuable knock in the context of the game. After this Ramsbottom lost wickets at regular intervals to some poor strokes with only Rehan Udwadia being unlucky enough to get a good one. Even Ash who had played so sensibly for 31 fell to a dismissal he would like to forget. Such profligacy reduced us to 112 for 9 bringing Birdy in to join Dan Pyke with 6 overs remaining. Once again Dan showed us his ability to strike the ball as he hit 39 not out including 3 massive 6’s to take us to 150 for 9 at the close of innings. He made his score in just 37 deliveries and was ably supported by the Bird who survived 14 balls in his 1 not out.

Buoyed by the last wicket stand the Rams took the field knowing that early wickets were vital. With spin being shown to be most effective on the track, John opened the attack with Ash. We were immediately rewarded with the wicket of the Crompton Pro Sami Aslam, bowled by his counterpart. When Ash bowled Rigby in his 2nd over the home side were struggling with only 8 runs on the board, however this left Mohammed Jamal and Dennis Louis at the crease.

Both these batsmen can take away a game from you at the drop of a hat so it was vital to remove them. However the score had reached 35 and  we had dropped Jamal twice and Louis once. This looked like being a fatal blow to us as the pair effortlessly took the score to 69. Something special was required and it came at that score when Louis hit a ball to cover point and the pair set off for a run. To anybody else in the team this would have been no problem but they picked out Rehan Udwadia who steamed in , picked up the ball one handed and threw the wicket down running Jamal out by a good 2 yards. This seemed to unsettle Louis who was out in the next over caught behind off John Fielding. Advantage Ramsbottom.

The home skipper Simon Wright and 16yr old Harry Dean set about repairing the damage and with the Rammy skipper having to manipulate his bowling the pair took the score to 101 with another chance being put down. Ash was then brought back into the attack and he took 2 more valuable wickets bowling Wright and trapping Dean LBW before ending his excellent spell. The home teams hopes rested on the tail-enders but the Rams kept the pressure on by bowling tight and wickets started to fall till fittingly and Dan Pyke capped a man of the match performance by having one caught by the skipper leaving Crompton 140 all out.

This was a vital 12 points which keeps us in with a shout of silverware but we cannot hide the fact that we put 5 chances down and our overall fielding, with one or two exceptions was poor. Still,despite never being able to play the same team every week the club at all 3 senior levels has done fantastically well and if we continue to perform in the last 4 games who knows what we might achieve.

Ramsbottom won by 10 runs

Mick Everett