Morecambe and Lancaster played out a thrilling fixture on Bank Holiday Monday at Woodhill Lane with the game ultimately ending in a tense and nervy tie.
Morecambe have their professional Kelly Smuts to thank as he made his maiden half century for the club with a superb 96.
Winning the toss Morecambe CC skipper Tommy Clough stuck to his game plan and inserted Ben Simm’s Lancaster side and was rewarded almost instantly as Yakub Bhamji had Danny Welbourne (8) caught behind by Lewis Edge.
Lancaster, however, found a solid partnership in Jamie Heywood (38) and professional Michael Barry (38) who cautiously looked to rotate the strike and move Lancaster forward after their early set back.
Morecambe buzzed around however, the pair took Lancaster to drinks with the score well set at 59-1.
Morecambe were in need of a breakthrough and it duly came as Heywood looked for a quick single only to be run out by a superb direct hit from Ayush Sharma.
Barry was soon to follow as he was snared looking to accelerate off the bowling of Tommy Clough.
Suddenly Morecambe began to turn the screw on the Lancaster innings and it was only really Charlie Swarbrick (22) and Lee Sparks (18) who looked to counteract the excellent Morecambe attack.
Dillon Conroy (1) came and went as did Sam Moorby (3) as the Lancaster innings petered out to a disappointing 153 a.o in the final over.
The Morecambe response started poorly as Lancaster tore out of the blocks and Josh Dixon was caught at second slip looking to drive a full ball from Liam Moffat (2-36).
This brought Kelly Smuts to the crease and he began his innings solidly alongside young Adam Derham who hung around for 30 balls for a battling eight. Smuts began to look at ease striking four consecutive boundaries before tucking into the loose offerings of Ben Simm striking him for two huge maximums.
Smuts however could not find a partner as Ryan Pearson (0) came and went as did Jordan Willoughby (5), Lewis Edge (8), James Law (0) and Craig Atkinson (0).
Suddenly Morecambe were reeling at 88-7 and in real trouble, however Smuts finally found a partner in skipper Tommy Clough (18) who batted sensibly alongside Smuts allowing him the strike.
Smuts was in the mood and the pair chipped away at the Lancaster total, inching ever nearer. These derby games are never straightforward as Clough drove straight to cover with the score at 138 and suddenly Lancaster came back to life.
Yakub Bhamji carried on where Clough left off as Smuts moved into the 90’s. With four required to win the game was again turned on its head as Liam Moffat returned to dramatically bowl Smuts for a superb 96 and set up a grand stand finish.
Bhamji then went over cover for two making the scores level before looking to do the same again only to find Conroy at mid-off dramatically ending the game in a rare and pulsating tie.
Afterwards Morecambe skipper Tommy Clough said: “Kelly has really stood up today and shown us all what he is capable of.
“He’s devastated that he hasn’t got us over the line however we only have ourselves to blame.
“It’s a great game of cricket for the neutral and we’ve got to learn a lot from the experience, however if we want to compete and finish in the top four we’ve got to get over the line in games like these.
“Our fielding and bowling performance was again superb and great positives can be taken in this department.”