Barrow’s 2nds lost a winner-takes-all encounter with Coalpit Heath 3rds in a valiant bid to avoid relegation.
Barrow’s newer followers are familiar with the antics of first team player Ali Hood, but it was his younger brother who came out of retirement and brought Barrow to within sight of salvation. This was after a season which has seen most of the players who took the team to two successive promotions move up to the first team leaving the 2nds depending on limited batting resources, in particular, as only 3 players made consistent runs over the season.
Captain Ellie Holdaway won the toss and put the opposition in to bat. Steve Owen struck early inducing a nick to keeper Bernie Forge standing up, but despite further accurate bowling from Steve, Adam Brace and Pete Rooney no further wickets fell albeit that runs were scarce. It took the introduction of Mike Lilley to make what might have been a decisive strike taking two quick wickets including the dangerous Qasim Ali who played on for 23.
At 25 overs the Coalpit Heath batsmen started to accelerate against Ellie and Oscar Livesey, neither of whom were at their best and the score accelerated such that by 34 overs a score of 250 threatened. Oscar (2/53) finally accounted for Walker for 58 and the reintroduction of Brace helped to peg back the total, but Baldwin (60 not out) shrewdly led the lower order to take the score to 216-7 at tea.
The reply was led by the returning Hood batting in partnership with regular opener Bernie Forge. From the outset, the opening partnership was positive taking quick singles and punishing the bad ball. Bernie pulling for two fours and cover driving another, whilst Hood got going after a rusty start by despatching a full toss off his hip for 4. When Bernie fell for 21 trying another pull off one which kept a little low, Barrow were 48-1 and up with the required rate. Mark Gracey then nicked off second ball bringing Pete Holdaway to the crease.
With the score at 100, and having hit 9 fours and 2 clean sixes, Hood fell leaving Pete to be joined by his captain (and daughter). They kept the score moving but the required rate began to grow inexorably and when they both fell, Pete, having survived several LBW appeals, for 39 inevitably LBW and Ellie for 10, the tail then quickly succumbed leaving Barrow 49 runs short.
Barrow were left to rue several weather-affected games where they perhaps got the worst of the conditions and their key players who remained from past success not quite hitting top form this season. Still the team should take heart from the number of different players who played during the season, the way that they played their cricket and the fact that every week 11 players could be fielded in a division where many other teams found it hard to do so. Here’s to promotion in 2018!