It was an unsuccessful weekend for the Barrow teams but the Firsts can take a lot of credit from giving the unbeaten Bristol Lions a run for their money.
The scenic Dunkerton ground had been left derelict for some time before the Bristol Lions took on the project of restoring it. And whilst there is still a lot to be done, they have done an amazing job of preparing the square and getting to grips with some of the brambles which surround the boundary, revealing in some places a babbling brook near which the pavilion stands.
Batting first, the Lions were bowled out for 249 due to some good bowling from James Riley (2/37) Ed Holdaway (3/43) and Mark Fisher (2/28). Paul Glazzard bowled an excellent spell of off spin too, varying flight and pace and his 9 overs 1/40 did not really reflect how well he bowled. Unfortunately this was another game where Barrow’s tendency to drop catches at key moments told heavily as former Barrow player Suresh de Alwis was generously given a life from a regulation catch at long on before he had scored, and then proceeded to punish his former teammates with shots to all parts making 80.
In reply Barrow started positively as Bernie Forge and Will Kerswell (36) found the boundary several times from any overpitched or leg-side deliveries. When Bernie fell for 27 the middle order fell away with one or two extravagant shots and a needless run out in the face of some solid ground fielding on an uneven outfield.
Then Barrow staged a fight back as Riley (46) and Mark Fisher (37) forged a solid partnership whilst keep the score moving at the required rate. After Mark fell to Alwis, who after keeping wicket was now turning his hand to bowling, Nick Heal launched a couple of mighty blows, one of which landed in the adjacent river before leaving the way for the last wicket pair to provide some entertainment. 43 runs were needed off 7 overs as Riley and Frank Forge chanced their arm including running a 3 during which one or other of them might have been run out on each run before going for overthrows. With 26 still needed, the bowler of the day Benura Hitiyamudiyanselage bowled Riley to take his fifth wicket and leave Barrow to content themselves with maximum batting and bowling points.
At Hobbs Lane, the Seconds had one of the strongest sides of the season out, or at least it appeared that way on paper. Winning the toss and batting first, Barrow though found themselves in trouble losing three quick wickets for 19. Ben Skuse (29) and Jordan Allen (19) set about repairing the damage but when they both fell close together leaving Barrow 64-6, the mission turned into batting the overs and setting some sort of target. Paul Gard, continuing his recent form with the bat marshalled the tail making 39, supported by Adam Brace (19) but the final score of 134-9 looked nowhere near enough on the fast scoring Barrow ground. And so it proved as Old Park knocked off the runs in 25 overs with Jamie Hunter 49 not out at the close. Simon Hudson and Gard took the only two wickets to fall.
On Sunday another burning hot day greeted the Sunday team as they ventured to Bath Exiles ground up on Lansdown.
The outfield, like so many was brown and hard with barely a tinge of green, the pitch was the same without the green tinge. Barrow won the toss and decided to bat. On a pitch offering tennis-ball type bounce, the opening partnership of Mark Forge and Guy Fisher put on 37 as Guy continued his imperious Sunday form, before Mark fell to a catch of a leading edge. After hitting a lovely 6 to add to his 8 fours, Guy got one which popped and was caught and bowled. Ben Thorne quickly followed to one which skidded rather than bounced leaving Barrow struggling at 59-3. James Riley was joined by Leo Brace who after a nervy start hit a couple of clean boundaries but then was not alert to Riley’s call for a quick single and run out. Rod Reeves then joined Riley in an all left-handed partnership of vastly contrasting styles. Riley bustling with energy and looking to be positive whilst Rod treated every ball with extreme caution. The partnership used up a few overs with little addition to the score.
James was bowled for 20 shortly after Rod departed and with Steve Webb being adjudged LBW to one he appeared to have hit, Barrow were struggling to build a total. It was left to Frank Forge to get the total to 147, aided by a couple of boundaries by Mark Fisher and a good supporting innings from Melissa Owen who, although she did not score, survived 18 balls to allow Frank to make 24 before being last out caught in the deep off a top edge.
In view of the pitch Frank and Adam Brace were the unlikely opening attack bowling with a slip and leg slip or short leg for the one that popped. When Adam (2/18) clean bowled the opener and the opposition skipper in his first couple of overs it looked like game on. Frank (2/22 off 8 overs) was bowling with accuracy and turn and ended the innings of the familiarly bearded figure of O’Callaghan bowling him, before the inevitable catch came off one which leapt off a length leaving Riley diving forward to take the catch 47-4 but with Frank bowled out and Adam needing a breather, it was going to be up to others to press home the advantage. Guy’s leg spin did just that to make the score 60-5 whilst Leo, after a succession of wides in his first over, then kept it very tight at the other end, as did Mel in her couple of overs. But a partnership was brewing between Syed Rivzi and Faizan Asif. Neither was totally comfortable against Guy but they pushed singles, batted time and waited for the full toss to hit.
Mark Fisher ended the partnership by sending Faizan’s middle stump cartwheeling out of the ground but the 67 put on by the pair was decisive. Riley swopped the gloves with Frank to bowl some left arm spin, which soon became quicker and quicker before he floored Syed with one that popped up but there were no other dramas as Bath Exiles recorded their first win of the season.