Legend Joe’s winning return

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NELSON legend Joe Scuderi returned as substitute professional on Saturday, and helped inspire a comfortable win over Rishton, hitting the boundary which sealed a seven-wicket success.

Rishton won the toss, and, under leaden skies, chose to bat first. Richard Meade and Sam Halstead opened Nelson’s attack and both tasted early success.

Halstead was the first to strike, clean bowling Shaun Wyse for seven before Meade had Abdul Bisoodwall caught at mid-off for an entertaining 23. Meade had more success as he struck twice in his ninth over, accounting for the opposition professional Ghulam Bodi for two, and then taking a caught and bowled to dismiss Jon Dobson for a duck.

Jimmy Bibby and Irfan Muhammed staged a bit of a revival as they put together a 35-run partnership, but the introduction of Neil Thompson and Khurrum Nazir into the attack really put the break on Rishton’s innings. Thompson had Muhammed caught behind for 13 and then had Bibby caught at mid-wicket for a top score of 24. Thompson claimed his third wicket as he had Scott Greaves leg-before for two, and Nazir bowled Shaun Hutchinson for a duck.

Thompson completed a wonderful bowling performance by having Matthew Nuttall (15) caught brilliantly by Chris Heap at mid-off and Garth Wyse caught by Lord at mid-wicket for eight. This was Lord’s fourth catch and it gave Thompson marvellous figures of 5-22 - his first ‘five-for’ at this level. Nazir also bowled well, conceding just 12 runs from his 10 overs. Rishton were all out for 115 in the 48th over.

Stuart Lemon and Thompson opened Nelson’s reply and produced the highest opening partnership of the season. Afaq Ali Sartaj, bowling slow left-arm, actually opened the bowling and bowled economically throughout the innings. In fact, he was the only bowler not to receive heavy punishment at the hands of the Nelson openers. Bodi, especially, suffered at the hands of Lemon who hit him for three huge sixes.

Nelson advanced to 82 before Sartaj gained the first success, trapping Thompson in front. Thompson had hit five boundaries in his 33 to complete a good all-round performance. Lemon passed his 500 for the season and reached his 50 with his fifth four but was then bowled next ball by Sartaj. David Crotty kept the runs coming at a lively pace and had hit four fours before he was stumped off the bowling of Bisoodwall for 19.

Scuderi had time to bring back many happy memories for local supporters when he swept Sartaj to the boundary to win the match with almost 20 overs to spare

It was the most inhospitable weather conditions imaginable that Nelson encountered on Sunday on their visit to Bacup.

Rain delayed the start and, even when play was deemed possible, a light drizzle meant bowling with a wet ball.

The cricket ground at Bacup is on top of a hill and is exposed to the wind, and one experienced cricketer actually said he had never been as cold on a cricket field before.

Our car told us that the outside temperature was 11 degrees C - that is cold!

Play commenced at 2-45 p.m. as a 35 over match.

Bacup won the toss and chose to bat but the decision almost back-fired on them.

Sam Halstead roared in and bowled one of the best spells of opening bowling seen by a Nelson bowler in recent years.

Very quickly Bacup were 13-4 and Halstead had claimed all four wickets, three of the batsmen going for ducks.

Meade took the fifth wicket but was relieved by Thompson after Brett Pelser, the Bacup sub-pro, had hit him for a couple of boundaries.

Pelser’s onslaught was ended though when Halstead trapped him lbw for 35, and the paceman immediately bowled Andrew Spencer for another duck to put Bacup on 64-7.

Halstead’s final figures were 6-28 which were a career best.

James Cunliffe (37) and Stephen Ball (26) rescued Bacup’s innings, putting on 47 valuable runs for the eighth wicket.

An interuption for rain resulted in a reduction of the overs to 34 but some big hitting at the end gave Bacup a score of 142-9 - many more than looked likely at one stage.

Nelson’s reply soon got a set-back as Stuart Lemon top-edged and Pelser, running back from slip, took a good catch.

Thompson and sub-pro Pieter Malan settled down and looked to have everything under control as they put together a stand of 91.

Bacup set defensive fields and boundaries became few and far between. The run-rate began to climb but, even so, with the score at 102-1 with 8 overs remaining, Nelson were favourites to win.

Malan had made 39 when he was lbw to a ball that kept low and the rot set in.

Lord promoted himself to try to lift the run-rate but he immediately lofted a drive and was caught at cover for one and then Thompson’s valiant innings was terminated as he was bowled by Pelser for 53.

Thompson, whose bowling exploits brought success to the team 24 hours earlier, had demonstrated his all-round talent with the bat, hitting six fours in his second half-century of the season.

An air of panic was prevalent as Nazir and Peter Dibb both perished for six, trying to force the pace.

It was difficult, in the gathering gloom, for fresh eyes to be equal to the challenge and, in the end, Nelson finished 10 runs short of victory. 133-7 was, at least, enough to take maximum batting bonus points.

This weekend sees another double-header, starting with a visit to Church tomorrow, followed by a home match against Haslingden on Sunday.

Derek METCALFE