Heavy overnight rain seemed to make play on Sunday unlikely. But good covers and a drying breeze allowed play for the match of the Friendly XI at the picturesque Failand & Portbury ground on Sunday. Losing the toss, Barrow had to bat first and set a target in a “timed” game.
Opener James Riley departed quickly trying to late cut a Yorker, before opening partner Guy Fisher and skipper Mark Forge began to rebuild. Guy inexplicably holed out for 15 and when Mark departed after making 17, including some uncharacteristic quick singles, the middle order found it hard going, never mastering the conditions. Runs dried up and wickets continued to fall. Much, it seemed, would rest on the partnership between Oscar Livesey and Frank Forge, but when Oscar called Frank for a second run that would have tested Usain Bolt, Barrow were really struggling. Oscar departed soon after and with almost 2 hours batted and tea looming Barrow had no hope of making a competitive total. The 9th wicket pair of Mark Fisher (35 not out) and Adam Brace (20 not out) thought differently though and got Barrow to 115 -8 at tea. Mark hit several clean fours, and Adam left the Gower-esque shots at home and substituted them with some brute force hitting over the top.
In anything other than a friendly game, under the rules of the day, Barrow would have batted on after tea, as clearly Failand had more than enough time to make the total required. The skipper though, did what was expected and declared, hoping that the bowling attack could deliver an inspired performance.
Mark Fisher bowled really well steaming down the hill and the wicket of Burke in 6 overs for 14 runs was inadequate compensation. Leo Brace had the hard task of bowling uphill and found the openers severe on anything off a good length. Dad, Adam, offered some control but it was only when the spin twins (newly reconciled after the running incident) came on that further wickets fell. Frank Forge (1/17 in 6 overs) beating the No 3 in the flight and bowling him, Oscar Livesey finally dismissing Batchelor after a (match-winning) innings of 43 before taking another wicket to finish on 2/17 (also) off 6 overs. Leo returned to bowl much better down the hill while two consecutive maidens from Guy Fisher took the game much further into the 20 overs to be bowled in the last hour than expected. However, a 6 wicket victory for Failand was a fair result.
Despite the Barrow batting not really firing, this was friendly cricket at its best against a welcoming side, at a lovely venue, an enjoyable tea and some chat after in the bar. We look forward to the return game in a few weeks’ time.