A brave and spirited Rainhill U-9s team put on an impressive display of cricket to finish as runners-up in the Ainsdale CC Shield tournament.
The Rainhill youngsters played through a marathon 7 hour day to bring home some silverware for the club - their achievement being all the more remarkable as they were playing a man light in this 6 a-side event. Fantastic teamwork and effort across the whole day more than made up for their lack of numbers.
The day got off to a poor start with back to back losses against some talented opposition. However, Rainhill remained positive and produced a fantastic display in their final group game to record a victory to take them into the Shield Playoff quarter finals.
It was in the knock-out games that Rainhill really came to life. The first was a tough game against Fleetwood Hesketh Lightning - who had beaten Rainhill comfortably in the earlier group game. Rainhill turned out an excellent performance in the field to restrict Fleetwood to 238 from their 6 overs, with some brilliant bowling from Charlie Unsworth and Finnlee Millar (taking a wicket each). Patrick Reilly weighed in with 2 run outs, while super fielding from Blake and Mackenzie Henderson meant Rainhill had a realistic target. Rainhill chipped away and the winning target of 239 was achieved thanks to some excellent running between the wickets from Charlie and Mackenzie, backed up with a couple of super boundaries from Finnlee. Needing 9 from the last over Blake scored a couple of singles but big hitter Patrick produced a 4 and 6 in the last 2 balls - to screams of joy from the parents - to help Rainhill avenge their earlier loss and move into the semi-finals.
Rainhill faced the much fancied Liverpool Lightning in the Semi-Final, and were put in to bowl. An early wicket from Blake Henderson calmed the nerves but Liverpool’s opening batting pair hit some solid shots. Another wicket came from Charlie with a lovely delivery knocking 5 more off the Liverpool total. Some super energy from Mackenzie Henderson in the field stopped certain boundaries and solid bowling from Patrick and Finnlee meant that Liverpool set Rainhill a juicy target of 241 to make the final.
In response, Rainhill got off to shaky start with the loss of an early wicket but Finnlee hit boundaries in the second over and some super singles from Mackenzie and Blake helped to steady the ship. Charlie hit a fantastic 4 in his spell and capitalised on a mis-field for another 3 runs but despite this Rainhill were still 10 runs shy with 1 over remaining. However, Patrick produced an epic batting display with back to back sixes in the last 2 balls of the over to secure a 2 run victory for Rainhill to the jubilation of the watching parents and supporters. All five boys' faces lit up as they realised they had made the final!
It was a case of déjà vu in the Final as Rainhill faced Northern CC for the second time, with Northern having run out comfortable victors earlier in the day. Rainhill were put into bat first and with the lads running on adrenaline from the Liverpool victory it was clear the toll of the earlier 6 games was starting to catch up with them. Patrick and Finnlee opened the batting but Northern took an early wicket with Patrick mistiming a good delivery. Patrick made up for this with a super six and a four but boundaries were becoming hard to find. Charlie and Mackenzie kept the score ticking over with some good running for singles and doubles. Blake (at just 6 and the youngest of the team) held his nerve and weighed in with some great singles to set Northern 39 to win. Northern had the fresher line-up and set on the target with some fantastic boundaries. However, some positive bowling from Finnlee, a maiden over from Patrick, great shot stopping by Charlie and Blake, and the catch of the day from a diving Mackenzie at Wicket Keeper to knock 5 off the Northern scorecard meant Northern still had work to do in the last over. Northern however, hit a couple of super shots over the rope to win by 12 runs.
There was no embarrassment in defeat for Rainhill and “The Ainsdale 5” as so aptly nicknamed by Mackenzie and Blake’s mum Amanda were a credit to Rainhill CC. They lifted the Runners-Up trophy aloft and wore their medals with pride. With the U9’s rarely able to practice due to weather and all-stars cricket this season, this was proof that, with some extra players and some rain free Fridays, Rainhill have a great bunch of youngsters with a real desire to enjoy and support each other in their cricket.
Well done boys!!