The cricket season finally got underway on Saturday, thanks in no small part to the hard work of groundsman Pete Holdaway who managed to get the ground into remarkable condition considering the amount of rain over the last 2 months.
Flax Bourton were the visitors for the opening friendly and, winning the toss, put Barrow into bat after a quick shower had threatened to stop the season in its tracks before it had begun. Ben Skuse and Bernie Forge opened the proceedings and put on a good opening partnership of 46 against some sharp bowling. Ben was particularly severe on anything legside, whilst Bernie hit a couple of trademark drives to reach the boundary. The partnership did not end happily however as Ben called an ambitious run leaving Bernie just short, and then he succumbed to the spin of Beale. With Paul Glazzard departing shortly after, Barrow were in need of a strong partnership.
Ed Holdaway and Jonny Sykes put on exactly 100 for the 4th wicket, starting sensibly before freeing their arms to take advantage of the short boundary on one side with a tremendous display of clean hitting. Ed retired on making his half century, as did Jonny who looked equally accomplished against slower and quicker bowlers. Thereafter the innings drifted as the lower order struggled to score freely before the innings closed on 174 after 35 overs.
James Riley opened the bowling with Barrow new recruit (and former Flax player) Simon Hudson. Both bowled accurately but were unable to make the breakthrough. Coming on first change, Nick Heal started with a high full toss, but when he followed up with a lower full toss he breached the opener’s defence to have him clean bowled. At the other end Tim Martin was moving serenely along to 62 before he too retired setting the stage for an aggressive innings from Sam Flowers.
Ed Holdaway came on to take a couple of quick wickets (2/15), whilst Flax’s overseas player was run out backing up as Paul Glazzard got a hand to a well-struck shot. Whilst Flowers was striking some violent and effective blows, wickets fell steadily at the other end giving Barrow some hope of a win. Adam Brace struck first ball and then followed it up two balls later having come round the wicket to the incoming left-hander (he took 2/12 in all). Connor Jones also struck in his first over and with Flowers momentarily becalmed Barrow pressed for the final couple of wickets.
However Flowers (55 not out) found some support from Graham Hill (15 not out) to get Flax over the line.
All in all it was an enjoyable game and good preparation of the season to come and what a relief to be getting some play!