Lancaster avoid crushing loss

Lancaster captain Ben Simm.
Lancaster captain Ben Simm.

A middle-order batting collapse scuppered Lancaster’s chances of victory in a feisty affair at Lune Road.

Ben Simm hasn’t had much luck with the toss of late and little changed on Saturday as Andy Kellett opted to bat on a firm track.

There were few alarms for the visitors early on with edges tending to find gaps and runs coming quickly off Liam Moffat and Rameez Raja.

Adam Holt was the main aggressor – quick on the pull and harsh on any width, while the experienced Andy Kellett was more patient at the crease.

St Annes took the total beyond 50 for no loss and, with Lancaster lacking much potency, Simm turned to spin.

The breakthrough finally came at with the score on 80 when Holt danced down and missed a Simm arm ball leaving Lee Sparks to take the bails off.

With one end open Lancaster began to claw their way back into the game.

Despite surviving a chance to mid-wicket off Iain Burstow, Kellett couldn’t capitalise on his good start top edging another Chambers full-toss to a sliding Kieran Moffat at mid-on.

Chambers would prove to be key in scaling back St Annes’ advances.

Visiting pro Xander Pitchers fell to another full-toss presenting Chambers with a straightforward caught and bowled chance on 18.

At the Atherton Road End, Burstow dried up the runs bowling a tight line and St Annes wickets continued to fall.

Chambers capitalised on the pressure picking up his third when Nathan Armstrong found Liam Moffat at cover trying to pierce the off-side field – 125 for 4.

Burstow was eventually rewarded for his consistency when Nathan Bolus holed out to Elliot Mason at mid-off before Geeth Kamburugamuwe skied a slog sweep to Jamie Heywood at deep-mid-wicket to put Lancaster back in control at 140 for 6.

Matthew Taaffe moved the score beyond 150 for the visitors with a mixture of flicks and reverse sweeps before one scoop too many gave the returning Simm his second wicket.

But again chances went begging in the field giving Matthew Grindley the opportunity to swing from the hip in his 25 to take St Annes to 185 for 7 after 50 overs.

With few terrors in the Lune Road surface openers Alex Metcalfe and Jamie Heywood made a solid platform for the Lune Road men.

Despite surviving a chance to cover, Metcalfe scored steadily with the odd boundary while Heywood timed the ball and looked to rotate the strike.

With 50 up, however, the wheels came off for Lancaster.

First Heywood, after being almost stranded in a mix-up the ball before, became the first of Matthew Grindley’s five wickets for the afternoon the following delivery playing across a straight ball.

Metcalfe departed soon after, limply spooning a length delivery back to a grateful Grindley handing him his second of the afternoon.

The collapse was well and truly in motion an over later when Lancaster’s pro departed.

Rameez Raja started brightly with a maximum onto the banking off Taaffe but Grindley was now in full flow finding Raja nicking behind for just seven.

With two new batsmen at the crease Lancaster were vulnerable as Grindley got his tail up.

Craig Heywood was adjudged LBW for five and Grindley had all five to fall when debutant Elliot Mason edged a drive to second slip for a third ball duck.

Kieran Moffat and Lee Sparks both adopted attack as the best form of defence.

Moffat lifted an early maximum before off-spinner Jake Woods slipped a delivery under the left-hander’s bat while Lee Sparks took 10 off seven balls before holing out to Pitchers in front of the pavilion.

At 70 for 7 Lancaster imploded spectacularly and it looked like a crushing loss was on the cards.

But Iain Burstow and Dan Chambers held firm.

In the face of some hostile bowling and, at times, hostile gestures from the opposition, Chambers and Burstow dug in for the hosts.

With the target 70 runs away and ten overs left, the pair went into game-saving mode to at least salvage a losing-draw.

Burstow departed in the final over of the game for 53-ball 18 leaving Chambers and Simm to see out the remaining deliveries.

Chambers’ durability shone through with his 28 coming off 101 balls but it was, all in all, a disappointing day for the hosts who lacked application with the 

Lancaster finally finished short on 138 for 8 and claimed three points from the day.

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*Lancaster 2nd Xi went down to a heavy nine wicket loss in the return fixture at Vernon Road.

Lee Marshall impressed with 81 for the visitors with contributions from Reuben Orr and Nathan Baxter taking Lancaster to 173 for 5.

But St Annes took advantage of Lancaster’s limited numbers with fifties from Paul Wilks and Sajid Nalbandh overhauling the total with ease.

Paul Dawson took the solitary wicket to fall as St Annes won with 25 overs to spare.