NELSON suffered two contrasting defeats over the weekend - losing by two runs to Rishton on Saturday, before going down to champions and leaders Lowerhouse by 156 runs.
On a cold but sunny Saturday, Nelson entertained Rishton and treated spectators to an exciting cricket match.
It was a tricky wicket after all the rain that had fallen in the days leading up to the match, and a low-scoring game was always in prospect.
Nelson won the toss and put Rishton in to bat, reaping early benefits.
Richard Meade had Abdul Biswoodall lbw in the first over, and then Waqas Tahir bowled a super ball that clean bowled the opposition professional, Daniel Salpietro, for a duck in his first over.
Nelson’s regular professional, Shahzaib Hasan, has had to return home to Pakistan as his father has been taken critically ill, and Umar Amir, Morecambe’s pro, stood in at the last minute.
He replaced Tahir in the attack and took two wickets as three fell with the score at 32. Meade had Richard Rostron lbw before Umar claimed the wickets of Ali Sartaj (8) and Jimmy Bibby (0).
A stand of 38 - the highest of the match - by Luke McVarish and Craig Smith turned the fortunes in Rishton’s favour, but a sudden collapse turned the match again.
McVarish had made 25 when he became Neil Thompson’s first victim, and Smith, whose innings lasted 92 minutes, was last man out as Umar (4-28) and Thompson (3-16) polished off the tail.
Rishton’s total of 93 would have been much less had it not been for 15 wides.
This is obviously a problem that needs prompt attention as 23 and 28 were recorded in the first two fixtures.
The Nelson innings got off to a dismal start with Lewis Bradley dismissed for a duck and Sean Lemon caught on the square-leg boundary for five.
Chris Heap and Umar Amir tried to steady the ship, but progress was painstakingly slow as Salpietro, in particular, was difficult to score off.
Umar decided to chance his arm and he succeeded in hitting his opposite number for a six in one over and two fours in the next.
This tactic made the Aussie change ends. Garth Wyse came on to allow the changeover and he promptly had Heap caught for 13.
The Nelson middle order batsmen all failed to reach double figures as Salpietro ran riot.
David Crotty (4) and Neil Thompson (3) were both bowled by Salpietro, and Rizwan Hussain (3) fell to Ali Sartij. who also claimed the important wicket of Umar Amir.
Umar was bowled for 28 - the day’s top score - and suddenly Nelson were 72-7.
Two silly run outs didn’t help the Nelson cause but Russell Bradley valiently kept to the task and a four and a six, both off Salpietro brought Nelson to within two runs of their opponents.
Immediately after hitting that six, however, Bradley was dubiously given out lbw for 12.
On Sunday, Lowerhouse enjoyed an emphatic victory over Nelson.
Lowerhouse had hired heat blowers and had worked tirelessly on the wicket and surrounds to ensure the match commenced on time.
Great credit goes to the groundsman and helpers for their achievements, as the lower parts of the ground were under water earlier in the week, encouraging local wildlife to swim serenely on it’s waters!
Lowerhouse won the toss and batted, and were given a perfect platform with Ben Heap, Johnny Whitehead and Joe Martin all contributing.
Professional Francois Haasbroek entered the fray at 132-2, and after a few sighters played an innings of great belligerence, achieving his half century in 26 balls.
The middle order batsmen sacrificed their wickets in the pursuit of quick runs to achieve a creditable 232-5 at the tea interval.
Nelson never recovered from the opening damage inflicted by Haasbroek and the returning Jon Finch, losing wickets at regular intervals, with only the resolute and talented skipper Thompson reaching double figures.
Finch was unplayable against his former club and finished with 7-33 to become the fourth Lowerhouse player of the match to receive a well-deserved collection.
Nelson have a double-header this weekend as they take on Rawtenstall in the league tomorrow and Burnley in the Worsley Cup on Sunday.