After all the anticipation and fine spring weather, the cricket season started for Barrow on a cloudy but bright day with a cold wind blowing across the ground from the reservoirs. Following some confusion over the start time, and with Leema’s captain still in a taxi on his way back from holiday, the new “friendly” captain won the toss and chose to bat first on a dry but slightly green pitch.
Openers Bernie Forge and Phil Milton had to withstand some quick and accurate bowling from the opening attack with the ball often skidding through. Having seen them off Bernie fell to a good catch for 11 including one powerful shot over extra cover for four. Phil (on his way to 54) was particularly severe on the second string’s tendency to bowl full tosses. Will Kerswell (14) kept up the tempo before a lengthy partnership between the skipper and debutant James Mitchell. Taking advantage of some sloppy Leema fielding they rotated the strike with James (not surprisingly) the more positive, with one glorious back foot shot through the covers a contender for shot of the day, falling for 29 to a ball that nipped back. Enter Oscar Livesey in unusually positive mood, joining the skipper in scoring a 5 (neither all run – thankfully!) before crunching a waist high full toss over the bowlers head with a straight bat (definitely shot of the day!). Oscar perished for 16 before the lower order went in search of quick runs as the overs began to run out. Meanwhile yours truly steered the side to the close of the innings (remaining 31 not out – yes really!) with a deft mix of off glides (mistaken by some for edges) and forcing shots through the off side (for singles largely!). Barrow closed on 202 -7 which looked to be a competitive total.
James Riley (2 for 9) opening from the Fox & Goose end rattled the stumps of Leema’s captain with the first ball of the innings with an inswinger against the breeze, whilst Frank Forge (1 for 18) was unlucky to have the dangerous Jeevan (35 and top score) dropped early on. James Mitchell (1 for 12) and Rob Fig (1 for 18) piled on the pressure with Rob dismissing Jeevan just before the spinners were due for a bowl, with Oscar taking a breathtaking catch high to his right that seemed to have passed him and then keeping the ball under control as he fell. Oscar then bowled with flight and variation to take 3 for 12 despite the pitch offering little turn. Will (2 for 15) backed him up well with the aid of Bernie taking a good legside stumping chance. Leema looked as though they would fall short of a hundred but a spirited last wicket partnership (with young Campbell 19 not out) took them to 121 before Frank bowled the last man.
A good work out for the whole team who fielded really well and everyone had chance to prepare for the season. Oscar was voted man of the match for an excellent all-round performance with Bernie a close second for some tidy keeping on a pitch on which quite a few kept low.