Dixon and Dennison help avoid defeat to Darwen

Josh Dixon.
Josh Dixon.

Morecambe avoided defeat at title rivals Darwen at the weekend thanks to major contributions from skipper Josh Dixon and Phillip Dennison.

The pair added 110 for Morecambe’s fifth wicket after Darwen had previously posted 244 for the loss of seven wickets.

The result ensures Morecambe stay top of the Northern Premier Cricket League with 10 games played.

On what was a humid day in Darwen the first real warm day of the season, Morecambe skipper Josh Dixon lost the toss and his side were asked to have a bowl first breaking their run of games batting first.

As ever the opening bowling partnership of Eddy Read and Jamie Cassidy started strongly, the latter starting with two maidens heaping the pressure on the Darwen opening pair. Darwen’s Ammer Mirza however was not to be bogged down and he began to play his strokes pouncing on anything back of a length playing strongly through the leg side.

All that was missing for Morecambe was a wicket as Scott Jackson struggled to cope with the pace and movement of Read.

Read seemed to be moving well in the early overs despite last week’s hamstring strain, however the injury was to flare up again in the ninth over, his fifth when with one ball remaining he felt a twinge in his left hamstring yet again and was forced to withdraw from the attack.

With this Morecambe’s bowling was a little exposed and Dixon chopped and changed his bowling around looking to find a combination which would work alongside the ever dependable Suraj Randiv. Darwen however seized their opportunity and despite the loss of Jackson (15) caught in the deep by Gert Maartens off the bowling of Lewis Smith they began to accelerate at a tremendous rate.

Professional Khaya Zondo (54) combined with Ammer Mirza (54) and the pair looked unstoppable, striking the ball to all corners, even Randiv was left helpless as Zondo reverse swept the Sri Lankan international on several occasions for a series of boundaries.

When both fell looking to continue their acceleration it was left to the lower order and particularly the Cordingley brothers of John (35 not out) and Neil (9 not out) to ensure Darwen achieved a very competitive 244-7

It was essential in the context of the league table that Morecambe didn’t lose the game at Birch Hall and through Josh Dixon (83) and Lewis Smith (7) the pair made a solid start, punishing any loose offerings in the face of the excellent new ball bowling of Niall Burke and Neil Cordingley.

Smith was to fall to Burke for seven but the 15 year old is a shining light and will definitely shine extremely brightly in the future.

Dixon continued on his merry way alongside Suraj Randiv (15) who looked to be aggressive before being caught behind to become Cordingley’s first victim of the afternoon.

With the professional back in the pavilion and Ryan Pearson (7) and Lewis Edge (4) joining him in quick succession suddenly at 59 for 4 Darwen’s 244 seemed a long, long way away.

The inform Phil Dennison (54) joined his skipper and combined with Dixon in what now was a mission to collect as many bonus points as possible ensuring their nearest challengers didn’t gain on them.

The pair added 110 both showing their class and mental strength as Jordan Clarke looked to all his bowling options in search of wickets.

With a couple of lusty blows the pair took Morecambe to the verge of maximum batting points when Dennison fell to the excellent Niall Burke.

Morecambe were to lose Gareth Pedder before the close, however Eddy Read and finally skipper Dixon saw Morecambe to the 180 margin without the loss of any further wickets ensuring Morecambe claimed six points to Darwen’s eight and stayed top of the league. Morecambe host Preston in the league next Saturday at Woodhill Lane before travelling to Barrow in the first round of the Readers Cup on Sunday.