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So close and yet so far

So close and yet so far

Henrik Holm17 Sep 2023 - 20:33
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An almost perfect day for the 1s, as they just miss out on Premier League title

After having suffered the misfortune of watching Alderley Edge get 4 off the last ball to win against Widnes, the 1s came to Wilmslow Road for their final match of the year with a very simple task, beat Nantwich and hope that Grappenhall could limit AE to only 4 points. A tall order indeed, but one which looked a distinct possibility for the majority of the day.

Having lost the toss again (13/30 wins for Nick this season!), the 1s were invited to bowl at a Nantwich side who had run through our batting order in the Cheshire Cup. James quickly got to work, removing Jake Pearson who had got away with a few early boundaries. Liam also chipped in with the massive wickets of Luke Robinson and Spencer Byatt, before picking up Jason Foulkes and Phil Stockton. Steve came on at the other end, proceeding to remove the skipper Ray Doyle via an excellent low catch by Rob at slip, leaving Nantwich in strife at 32-6. At this point Chris Simpson, who had just been at the other end watching the wickets tumble began to try to farm the strike. 32-6 became 39-7 as Scott Wardley moved too far across his stumps and was pinned LBW by Steve. The über-aggressive Oli Griffiths chopped on first ball, although only Rob seemed to notice that the leg-stump bail had actually been dislodged; Griffiths was halfway down the pitch. 3rd teamer Alan Chesters provided some resistance with Simpson, Chesters being left 2 or 3 balls at the end of each over to survive. They managed to edge the score to 48, but when Steve was allowed a full over at Chesters, he pinned him LBW for a 23 ball duck. When Jimmy Warrington, new owner of 700 Premier League poles, missed a full toss and was also given LBW, Nantwich had been bowled out for 50, Steve denying Liam a place on the honours wall for the second week in a row, finishing on outstanding figures of 12.2-4-12-5, with Liam taking 16-3-29-4 himself.

Steve began the chase as he meant to go on, sweeping Griffiths for two boundaries in the first over. Jase, playing his first 1s game of the year, played a lovely square drive off Foulkes, before he was unlucky to get out LBW by a drag-down that kept very low. Nantwich brought on their leading wicket taker Stockton who soon snicked off Dan with an absolute nut. Steve continued his onslaught, taking Foulkes for a six onto Wilmslow Road. He also fell to Stockton, bowled trying to end the game quickly for a fantastic 29 off 30. Where Steve failed, Nick prospered, taking Stockton for two enormous sixes and a good chipped two to win the game in the 11th over. That's three years in a row now where the last ball of the season has disappeared for a maximum.

Attention soon turned to phones and Play-Cricket, who's servers have probably never had so many refresh requests. It was much to our disappointment that Grappers had lost 4 wickets in their last 2 overs, meaning that AE would only have to chase 130 to win by a point, Dids winning a tie by virtue of most batting points. As the annual Didsbury sports day progressed, hopes grew as Alderley found themselves 76-6. However, they were to be dashed as a partnership of 59 saw them over the line. With that sorted, more refreshes brought us the news that the 2s had beaten Nantwich by 1 wicket to secure an invincible season, and that Adam Slater had gone ballistic for the 2As to secure their promotion to Div. 1.

With his 5 wickets, Steve ended on 60 Premier League wickets for the season (in only 16 bowling innings none the less) finishing top by 6 poles. In doing so, he also finished top of the averages and strike rates, the first person to do that since Danny Woods in 2015. When combined with his Cheshire and Scotland spoils, he has taken 99 wickets this season, a remarkable feat. Liam and James both finished in the top 15 for the league averages, finishing 4th and 12th respectively, James also finishing 5th in strike rates. [15 wickets+]

On the batting side, Ed kept his place as our top league run getter, finishing 2nd in the averages, with Rob finishing 6th. Nick and Sam came 27th and 30th respectively.

Although it was massively disappointing to miss out on retaining the title by such a small margin, the 1s must take some great satisfaction in finishing in the top 2 for a 4th year in a row, Oulton Park 2004-7 the only other team to have matched the feat. They are also well placed to challenge for the title again moving into next season.

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