Heaton Mersey 4ths v Cheadle Hulme Ladybridge match report
A beautiful hot Sunday greeted the arrival of the Cheadle Hulme Ladybridge side to Mersey for a fourths game all about new starts. This game marked the start of the tyrannical Wickham era of captaincy – with players no doubt already pining for the return of the sunny uplands of the Lewis era.
But wait! What this? Winning the toss? A fine start for the new Mersey captain, who promptly decided to take a look at how his makeshift side would perform in the field.
With the captain opening the bowling alongside Junaid Shah, a ‘veteran’ from the previous season, Mersey did well to restrict the openers in the first few overs. CHL are a polite team with great enthusiasm, not much technique, and a propensity to belt seven bells out of the ball, so once Wickham, having beaten the bat on a few occasions, saw himself whacked for at least three fours off his third over he made the decision to bring himself off – much to the relief, no doubt, of the chasing fielders.
It was at the other end where the real action was taking place. As the CHL opener Ahmed made hay, Junaid was removing his partners as quickly as a raised Roger Moore eyebrow. First to fall was Nabi - well caught in the field by Jonny Hill for a quick 14. Soon followed the CHL 3 – Rajkumar, quacking in front of his stumps to go LBW.
Making his debut in senior cricket, bowling from the Old Pavilion end was Hassan Waleed, who fired down a rapid four-over spell in which he was seriously unlucky not to take a wicket. No bother – more was to come later from the young man who seriously impressed in his first taste of action at this level.
With Junaid having toiled for an excellent five overs in the heat of the afternoon, it was time for another debutant – the equally impressive Joe Isaacs – to come on from the Green Lane end. What followed was a great look into the future – four overs of line and length bowling that will have coaches purring. The pressure put on from that end no doubt helped another ‘veteran’ - Aman Raza – whose leg spin has come on leaps and bounds over the winter.
The level of Aman’s great enthusiasm is only matched by the look of terror in the batsmen’s eyes as he bounds in. Spitting, turning deliveries apparently left the CHL batsmen in a mind to try to hammer him out of the attack – with no success. Aman quickly picked up two wickets – Butt caught in the deep for 13, when a partnership was just starting to build, and then bails flying as Ahmed was skittled over for 5.
By this point you’ll have realised that Wickham was rotating his bowlers regularly – with a five over spell the maximum on a hot day. So with Mersey very much on top at this stage it was the opening pair who returned – albeit from the opposite ends. Junaid quickly getting back into the wickets with the dismissal of Ahmad for 3, who was caught well.
But the opener Ahmed was causing issues by this stage. He brought up his 50 with a fine cut past gully off the bowling of Wickham – but he was about to have his revenge. Deciding to change the angle of attack, the skipper bowled from wide on the crease – not his usual stump-hugging practice – and promptly bowled Ahmed for an excellent 53 – as he misjudged his intended swipe over midwicket.
This meant Mersey were well into the CHL lineup, and when Reade – who’d played some nice shots – was caught by Jonny Hill off the bowling of Wickham, having skied one into the air, there was a definite feeling of excitement in the camp.
That brought the pairing of the CHL captain Shabir and Sadiq to the crease, who put on a fine stand together – with Sadiq falling for 18 off the fine bowling of Joe Isaacs, who had deserved his breakthrough wicket on his debut.
With Hasan taking his first wicket too – bowling Zaheer for 6 – it marked a fine debut in the field for the pair, who showed the level of talent in the 15 year old age group. No doubt much more to come from them in the future – with a few senior players no doubt looking over their shoulders.
Finally – where the son leads, the father follows – and with Wickham turning to Graham Isaacs for an over, Shabir finally fell, skying one up to midwicket – where son Joe took a fine catch to mark a fine family moment and an excellent fielding performance from Mersey, with much to build on for the summer ahead. CHL finished on 165 after just 35 overs – which shows the discipline with which this Mersey team had bowled and fielded.
After a fine tea – the pizzas were especially good – Mersey confidently hoped for a good result as they faced the CHL bowling attack.
Alas – it was not to be. Alex Lakinson and Jonny Hill opened – with wicketkeeper-batsman Alex coping well with a strong opening partnership. The plan – to last 10 overs, then to start playing properly – didn’t quite work out, with Jonny misjudging a ball to see his wickets clattered for six.
That brought Andy Hayward to the crease, who sensibly kept the scoreboard ticking over, taking singles whenever possible. But when Alex Lakinson wasn’t quite backing up as he should, and Andy took a quick single to a backward gully, it was Alex who ended up sprawled on the turf, bleeding from the elbow, in a futile attempt to make his ground. Run out for three, but a solid enough start from Alex.
Mo Shafiq joined Andy at the crease and delivered a few lusty blows before being bowled for 7. At this point the Mersey side was rocking, and it took a nice innings from Joe Isaacs to steady the ship. But he was run out for 11 – having shown an excellent range of shots – and that opened up the tail.
With Hassan, eye in, playing some great shots, the other end failed to hold up. Gary Critten, Junaid Khan, Aman Raza and James Wickham were all bowled out cheaply – only Junaid troubling the scorers with 7 – and all down to the CHL captain Shabir, who bowled quickly and accurately, removing batsmen’s off-stumps with regularity.
The final wicket fell on just 85 – leaving Mersey well short. But there’s much to take from an excellent fielding and bowling performance – with many more debuts due this season for an exciting band of young players, and with a few old hands to offer experience, the future for the club – on this showing at least – looks bright.
Men of the match are Hasan - for his bright 20 & wicket; and Joe Isaacs for a fine looking 11 and promising bowling debut – with a wicket too.
Updated 20:16 - 5 Jun 2018 by Tim Humpage