Spinner Simm inspires Lancaster to victory

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A masterclass in off-spin bowling from Ben Simm gave Lancaster back-to-back victories at Lune Road on Saturday.

His figures of eight for 24 on a pitch tailor-made for spin bowling were truly ‘Laker-esque’ after Jannisar Khan’s third fifty in a row had earlier helped Lancaster to 168.

With no rain for the best part of three weeks, Lune Road offered a white and dusty surface which promised to only get rougher as the day progressed.

Simm, therefore, had no doubts in batting first against an inexperienced Blackpool attack.

The Lancaster innings didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts when Alex Metcalfe survived a caught and bowled chance before Charlie Swarbrick chased a wide Ben Eckton delivery and departed for four.

Jannisar Khan joined Metcalfe and continued his form by steadying the early nerves using his years of professional experience.

Both put together an important partnership of 85, manoeuvring the seamers round the field and forcing the occasional boundary to take the score past 100.

Metcalfe finally fell for 41 running past an Ash Moreau delivery who had choked the left-hander’s scoring.

From a strong position at 101 for one, Lancaster stumbled through the remainder of their innings.

Danny Welbourne played a pleasant lofted drive for four but failed in his repeat effort next ball, slapping straight to Richard Gleeson at cover.

Iain Burstow was trapped LBW for nought to give Moreau his third wicket of the afternoon before the hosts lost the vital wicket of Jannisar bowled by an Eckton in-swinger for another well made half-century.

At 123 for five the Lancaster middle and lower order countered by attacking.

The returning Kieran Moffat made a cameo 14 including a maximum over long-on while Ben Simm and Sam Moorby ran hard to take Lancaster past 150.

Moreau’s impressive spell continued as he took his maiden first division five-for removing Moffat and Simm trying to force the turning ball.

Some measured late strokes from Scott Sparks kept the innings moving before Moreau had the final say as Matthew Liver overbalanced giving Craig Brown his second stumping of the afternoon.

Blackpool started their innings on 10 for no loss without a ball being bowled to some confusion around the ground.

Earlier in the day the visitors were awarded 10 penalty runs following Jannisar Khan’s repeated failure to keep off the danger area running between the wickets.

Luckily for the home side, the penalty would have little bearing on the result.

The visitors had few answers with the bat as, after Matthew Houston was adjudged LBW propping forward to Jannisar, it was a trial by spin for the Seasiders.

Simm bowled unchanged from the Atherton Road end and soon acquired his first scalp of the afternoon hitting John Mounsey on the toe in front of all three.

Paul Danson couldn’t repeat his runs of the previous week, top edging to Swarbrick at mid-wicket and when Craig Brown drove a return catch to Simm, Blackpool were in the mire at 30 for four.

Richard Gleeson although unable to bowl with a back injury, kept Lancaster at bay with bat in hand as he sought to stop the rot with the big hitting Andy Furniss.

Gleeson looked the most assured of the Blackpool batsmen, peppering the cover boundary. Simm introduced Matthew Liver in an effort to break the partnership but as his short spell confirmed, spin was the way forward.

The breakthrough finally arrived on 75 when Simm removed Furniss caught in the leg trap by Jannisar for 18.

The fatal blow for the visitors came from Scott Sparks whose first ball, a quicker ball, hit Gleeson on the back leg swiping across the line leaving umpire Bob Cairns with little choice in raising his finger.

Thereafter, Simm blew away the Blackpool’s last four batsmen without troubling the scorers as fielders crowded the bat. Smart catches by Liver and Swarbrick removed Ben Heath and Danny Gilbert before Simm found the shoulder of Ben Eckton’s bat with a vicious spitting delivery.

In an apt symmetry, the Lancaster skipper took his eighth and final wicket striking Matthew Middlehurst on the toe plumb in front to the delight of the bumper home crowd.

Lancaster won comfortably by 83 runs and gaining ground on the league leaders.

Match Sponsor: The Simm Family

*The Second XI suffered a big loss away at Stanley Park. Blackpool posted 172 for six with Steven Armstrong and Tom Williamson claiming two wickets apiece before Lancaster subsided to 62 all out with Williamson the only batsman to make it into double figures with 26.

*This Sunday marks the annual 6-a-side knock-out tournament at Lune Road. Lancaster C.C. will be host to a barbecue, music and a single wicket competition before the final which will take place at around 4:30pm. Games will begin at 10am. There is still time to enter a side at £20 each, or just turn up on the day and enjoy the festivities. Contact Scott Sparks on 07547849484 for more information on taking part.