The Lancashire League threw up two interesting matches last weekend, with mixed results for Colne.
On Saturday, they lost by 10 runs to East Lancs in a game they should have won and on Sunday, they travelled to Church and won by five runs in a game they could have lost.
At the Horsfield on Saturday, Colne won the toss and unexpectedly decided to field. The wicket was dry and looked likely to play well, but captain and professional Shadley van Schalkwyk opted to field, and it so nearly paid off.
The East Lancs opening pair, brothers Mo and Min Bhada, made a good start, and Min was first out for 31 when Holt induced an edge to Tillotson with the score on 46. Then Colne turned to spin, with Khurrum Nazir bowling 20 overs from the Bowling Green end and Tayyib Jamil 13 overs from the Grange end.
They kept the score down and took a couple of wickets each working in tandem. East Lancs’ score crept up to the 130s before van Schalkwyk, perhaps belatedly, brought himself back on.
The last five wickets fell quickly, including the wicket of opener Mo Bhada for 61, his maiden League 50. Nazir ended the innings with his fourth wicket in the last over, all of them lbw. This was not a case of the umpire having too keen a trigger finger; all four batsmen moved across the stumps and were on the back foot, which is not how to play leg spin.
Nazir opened the innings for Colne and made his first fifty of the season, and only the second by any Colne amateur. (Nathan Whitehead has the other.) He played all the bowlers aggressively, including spin bowling professional Erasmus who bowled throughout. With good support from Sam Tillotson, he made a fine 53 and the opening partnership was worth 76 when he played one shot too many and was bowled.
Tillotson followed two runs later for 15, but while Lewis Rimmer (10) and van Schalkwyk (18) were together, the game looked safe for Colne.
The decisive move came when Min Bhada was brought on to bowl, and Colne had spin at both ends.
Van Schalkwyk was caught at point off Erasmus to make it 107-3, Rimmer followed next over, and after that only Whitehead made any runs. The batsmen were undecided whether to attack or defend, did neither very effectively, and Colne were all but done at 125-9.
There was then the excitement of a last wicket partnership between Matthew Walker and debutant Chris Gill. Walker played his usual attacking style and showed that the ball could be hit; Gill chose the defensive option, and defended well for 21 balls but was bowled by the 22nd. He didn’t score, but while he was at the crease Walker (14) and extras had increased the score to 144, only 10 runs short of the East Lancs total.
A little more aggression in the middle order would surely have given Colne victory.
The Sunday game was similar but the opposite way around.
In a 4 pm start after early rain, Church put Colne in to bat. A disastrous opening left Colne at 22-4, but a 93-run partnership between van Schalkwyk (56) and Jamil (21 not out) helped Colne to a decent score of 127-6 in 26 overs.
Church made a good start to their innings, reaching 96-4, but when they needed to improve the run rate the Colne bowlers tightened the screw.
Van Schalkwyk and Nazir took four wickets each, and Church finished just five runs short on 122-9. This was an almost symmetrical revenge win for the game the previous Sunday, when Church left the Horsfield with a six-run win.
This weekend there are two matches on the Horsfield. The 3rd XI entertain Enfield on Saturday, and the first XI are at home to Bacup on Sunday.