Formby Fell Champions Again
Formby entertained New Brighton this week and came away with another win, which lifted them into fourth place in the league.
Formby had again looked to play the game on a pitch that would be likely to produce a result, so the pitch resembled one flown in from Hyderabad - very dry! New Brighton won the toss, Ian Cockbain's third loss on the trot (he's probably saving up winning to the matches to come that matter most), and elected to bat first.
Proceedings opened with what would have been a Tym Crawford maiden, had he not slipped in a wide, then a real maiden from Olllie Suttton, though in his case it was a wicket maiden as his last ball brought an attempt to force the ball through the on side by New Brighton's skipper, Mark Rowland, who hit it fairly well but straight at Stephen Parry at short mid wicket, who took the catch easily. Louis Botes and David While then took the score forward quite briskly, finding the lightning-fast outfield to their liking - particularly the former. After 8 overs, Cockbain made the inevitable switch to spin, bringing Parry on at the Cricket Path end and Gary Keedy at the hockey pitch end. Their first two overs produced just a single but Botes then swung Parry high toward the tennis courts for a maximum and While hit a four off Keedy's second over. The 50 came up in the 12th over and in the 15th, Boters tried to repeat his six off Parry. He didn't make quite such good contact, and by now Cockbain had positioned a man on the deep mid-wicket boundary. To a loud parental cry of "Catch it, Jacko!", Formby's latest league debutant, Jackson Cockbain, made ground to his left and caught the ball comfortably, just in front of the nets. Botes departed for 33 and that was 57-2. In Keedy's next over he accounted for While, who edged a spinning delivery into the safe gloves of James Seward for 21: 63-3. Andy Clarke and Upal Frenando then added a few singles and a four each, taking the total to 73, before Formby's spinners put the skids firmly under the New Brighton middle order. First Parry had Fernando lbw for 6, playing well forward. In the next over, Keedy did the same to Clarke, for 5, then, three balls later, had Rylance caught by Parry for a duck off a mistimed drive to reduce the visitors to 73-6.
This left Khurram Hussain and Ashley Watkins at the crease, and the former struck Keedy for six, but then lost Watkins, who was so lbw to Keedy than he walked without looking at the umpire, having made just 5, and the total was 87-7. Ashraf Nawab joined Hussain and the pair pushed the score along a little, though Nawab's off the mark shot was a six off Keedy. He didn't trouble the scorers much further, though, becoming the 4th lbw victim of the innings, this time to Parry, for 9 with the total on 98 -8.
The 100 arrived in the next over, the 29th of the innings, with Andy Evans in at 10 - the man who had frustrated Formby's efforts to win the corresponding fixture last season, as he participated in a 20-run last wicket stand for a single wicket win. He was in full frustrating mode again and with Hussain scoring reasonably freely at the other end, the total moved forward as first one, then two batting points were secured, helped by a 5 to Hussain, when a throw, that had been vocally forbidden by the Formby skipper, was made anyway and duly missed the stumps and sped to the boundary. Cockbain tried a few overs of seam from Crawford, to no avail, and switched ends for Parry, but after just one over switched him back again, with immediate effect, as he had Evans smartly caught in the gully by Tim Le Breton for 16 with the total on 158-9.
3 balls into his next over, Parry wrapped up the innings, as Hussain, who had completed a fine 50 (from 73 balls) just before Evans's dismissal, tried to hit him for six but perished in almost identical fashion to Botes earlier, though the catch was taken by Elliot Ketteringham. That wrapped things up at 165, but given that Formby had had no trouble defending a considerably smaller total against Lytham on a similar pitch a fortnight previously, it looked as though Formby might have their work cut out to force the win. Parry finished with 5-44 from 16.3 overs, Keedy with 4-68 from 17 and Sutton 1-16 from 4.
After tea Formby's trial by spin started, with Ashraf opening the bowling, in partnership with Clarke. Clearly, though, the Formby opening pair of Le Breton and Seward hadn't read that particular script, as they set off at a good pace, 50 coming up in the 12th over as they defended the good balls and attacked anything at all loose, Seward taking 16 off one Ahraf over. They enjoyed a little good fortune with a couple of lofted shots that just cleared the fielders, but Le Breton reached a valuable 50 from just 58 balls and the 100 came up in the 20th over, at which point the ball seemed to suddenly lose its hardness, and batting became a degree or two harder.
Le Breton immediately edged Ashraf to Rowland at slip and Dane Williams came in, only to retrace his steps four balls later as he was given out caught at the wicket, though the ball may have struck only his pad. Crawford replaced him but lasted only for the same number of balls, playing across a straight one in Ashraf's next over and being given out lbw for the same duck. Ketteringham was next, and appeared to have settled things down with a nice on drive for 4 from his third ball, then a big six off the same bowler in the over after that. He then latched on to a shortish one from Ashraf and looked to cut it square, but succeeded in smacking it straight into the stomach of Hussain at silly point, who clung on to the catch. Ketteringham's ghast was well and truly flabbered, but he had to go for 13 and that was 114-4. Parry came in, only to depart 14 dots and a single later, lbw to While with the scoreboard showing 127-5.
New Brighton were suddenly very much in the contest, but Cockbain sent in his senior left-hander, Keedy, to try to counter the left-arm spin attack. This seemed to have the desired effect and the pair carried the side to 142 after 39 overs with Seward reaching his 50 from 87 balls to continue his excellent run with the bat (322 runs from 8 innings at an average of 64.4), when drinks were taken. During the Break, Keedy suggested the plan was working and if a wicket fell, the left-handed approach be continued.
The drinks, as seems usual, brought a wicket, when Seward, a run and a bit short of his season's average was adjudged lbw to While at 144-6. Keedy's experienced advice was heeded and in came Sutton, the only remaining left-hander (unless Cockbain - either variety - was prepared to come in try to reverse-sweep everything), who saw out the last 3 balls of the over without alarm. 22 runs were still required, and Keedy hit 4 of those in Asraf's next over, a nice deflection past slip. Sutton completed his reconnaissance over While's next two balls then swept him away square on the leg side for 4. Two balls later, the fielder at deep mid-wicket looked interested for a second or two........until he realised the ball was sailing over his head for six. That reduced the target to 8 and the Formby dressing-room doubtless visibly relaxed. Keedy managed to play Ashraf away for a two in the next over, at the end of which Rowland went back to his right-arm spinner, Clarke, presumably in the last-ditch hope of disrupting the Formby left-handers. Sutton wasn't bothered by this and calmly lifted the first ball into the pavilion flower-beds to finish the match. He finished on 15 not out with Keedy on 17 not out. Ashraf had 4-77 from 22 overs and While 2-48 from 14. The whole match lasted a ball short of 88 overs and never reached the last hour.
With Bootle coming unstuck against Wallasey, Formby are now in 4th spot in the league, and 27 adrift of next week's opponents, Ormskirk, who are third. A win there, with some favourable results elsewhere, could bring Formby close to contention for the league title - one can always dream!
Author : Kim Miles