Rainhill's under-13s' team put in their most impressive performance of the season to date, as they eased to victory over the league leaders.
On the face of it, Hightown St Mary’s were expected to provide the away side with their biggest test yet. With Hightown not only at the top of the table but having also scored over 100 in three matches this season, this away fixture was a daunting one for Rainhill - even on the back of two solid wins.
Hightown won the toss and decided to bat first, hopeful of pressing their home advantage and posting another big total from their 20 overs.
As the sun shone it became clear that Rainhill’s growing reputation for controlled bowling and supportive fielding is well deserved. For the third game in succession Rainhill’s bowlers denied opposition batsmen the opportunity to settle and to start making runs.
Boundaries build confidence but when the fielders are so determined to dive, stretch and put their body in the way of well struck shots, sometimes the opposite can happen. Suddenly the field shrinks, gaps disappear and the flood becomes a trickle. So it was, mostly, for Rainhill’s fielders who concentrated on smothering the ball and returning to the keeper as soon as they could.
Hightown have a number of talented stroke players but this Rainhill team has spirit and, as the overs ticked by, the scoreboard did not quite keep pace. Stevie Pennington alone must have saved 16 runs in boundaries with his athletic stops and Ollie Unsworth again stood firm behind the stumps.
The fact that two of the seven wickets came from run-outs shows how switched on in the field Rainhill were today.
Wickets were spread between bowlers with Ned Brougham, Jack Pilkington, Gianni Albanese and Sam Addy (2) all claiming victims - even getting clocked on the head by the ball after an over-exuberant wicket celebration didn’t darken captain Sam Addy’s day.
Joel McGonagle started the Hightown innings and was their top-scorer with 15 runs. Special mention should also go to Monty Barr who ended on 11 not out; however, for all their graft Hightown ended on 55 for 7.
With a target of 56 for victory, Andrew Fairclough and Motsim Khan took to the field knowing that two or three runs every over would suffice. Spectators pointed out that Khan has a resemblance to Boycott or even Tavare in his reluctance to yield and to protect his wicket but these two quickly began to knock the ball about and after three overs Rainhill were 22 up.
Fairclough can feel slightly disappointed to be given out lbw from a right-hander going round the wicket, but Jack Pilkington was up next and he was in no mood to hang around.
Jack’s 32 from 21 balls effectively ended this as a contest and he had the added satisfaction of striking a six from the second ball of the 12th over to take Rainhill past the target score. Motsim achieved 11 not out and a satisfying, possibly significant, victory was again in the bag with Rainhill achieving a total of 58 for 1 from 12.2 overs.
Coach Tom Bromhead said “it was a dominant performance. Very well done to all involved, bat ball and field. Commitment and encouragement from all today was brilliant! Up the ‘Hill!”
Sam Addy (capt)
Ollie Unsworth (WKeeper)