THE weather was kind, for once, when Nelson entertained leaders Lowerhouse at Seedhill for their Thwaites Wainwright Lancashire League fixture on Saturday.
Nelson won the toss and chose to bat first, and opened with Stuart Lemon and Neil Thompson. Both openers hit boundaries in the first two overs, but then struggled as the visitors set defensive fields. The Lowerhouse professional Francois Haasbroek and captain Jonny Russell bowled tightly, conceding just 26 runs in the first 10 overs.
Just as Nelson seemed to be getting on top at 48 without loss from 16 overs, Haasbroek pegged them back with two wickets in two balls. Thompson was caught at mid-wicket for 16 and substitute professional, Indian Kuldeep Diwan, was caught behind first ball. Lemon and David Crotty slowly but surely revived Nelson’s fortunes, putting on 37 for the third wicket in 14 overs. Nelson then suffered a double blow as Lemon was run out for a top score of 46, which included seven fours, and Crotty was also run out for 22.
It was then up to Peter Dibb and Sean Lemon to repair the damage. Lowerhouse’s field placing was so good that the batsmen found it difficult to score boundaries. In fact, only one boundary was struck in the final 22 overs and that was a six, hit by Thomas Lord in the penultimate over. Dibb made 18 before he was lbw to Haasbroek with Nelson on 138-5 with only five overs remaining. Lord came to the crease, determined to lift the run-rate, and he hit an 18-ball 20, including that six before being bowled by the last ball of the innings. Sean Lemon was left undefeted on 33 as Nelson finished on 175-6.
Diwan, bowling slow left arm, actually opened the bowling and he, together with Richard Meade, kept the batsmen quiet. Ben Heap was given out lbw to Meade for five, but Joe Martin and Hasan Abbas held firm until Lord came on to bowl to allow Diwan to change ends. Martin, on 24, lobbed a simple catch to mid-wicket where Russell Bradley safely pouched.
Nelson then went 27 overs without taking a wicket as Haasbroek put on 99 with Abbas for the third wicket.
Even without losing wickets, Lowerhouse found runs hard to come by and still needed 35 runs with seven overs left. Meade started a panic when he clean bowled Haasbroek for 42 - an innings that included four fours. Jonathan Finch only managed a single before he was run out by a direct throw as the panic set in.
Diwan finally got some reward for his persistance as he got Abbas lbw for 68 and bowled Joe Beneduce first ball. Abbas’s innings included seven fours, one of which was an overthrow. Matt Walker was smartly stumped by Sean Lemon off a wide, leaving Lowerhouse needing seven runs off the last over with three wickets in hand.
Fergus Bailey hit a two, then ran a leg-bye before Patrick Martin was caught at square-leg. The batsmen had crossed so Bailey faced the next ball which he pushed for a single, and the sides tied.
The following day, again in glorious sunshine, Nelson visited the picturesque Centre Vale at Todmorden, but there were no memorable performances from the locals.
The match was dominated by home professional Qaiser Abbas, who hammered a swashbuckling 62 as he helped his team post a challenging total of 180-9. He then proceeded to bowl his slow left-arm spin throughout the Nelson innings to take 7-55 as Nelson capitulated for 130 all out.
Todmorden won the toss and decided to bat but Nelson took the early initiative as sub-professional Ben Laughlin sent back Simon Nesbitt, Ben Sutcliffe and Nick Barker with only 30 runs on the board. Laughlin, currently professional at Netherfield in the Northern League, bowled a lively pace and Nesbitt’s off stump was sent cart-wheeling out of the ground. The other two batsmen were caught behind by Sean Lemon.
Skipper Andrew Sutcliffe joined Abbas at the crease and they gradually turned the match in their favour.
Abbas’ first 32 runs all came from boundaries and he went on to register 11 fours and a six in his 55-ball 62. The stand for the fourth wicket was worth 77 when Laughlin uprooted the stumps again to end Abbas’ innings.
Sutcliffe’s contribution to the partnership was just nine but he prevailed to add a further 20 before he became one of Thompson’s four victims. Steve Barker, Matt Brierley and Paul Senior aslo fell to Thompson, whose final figures were an admirable 4-24 from 10 tidy overs.
Laughlin returned to the attack to bowl Oliver Wood but tail-enders James Crossley and Danny Brown survived the final three overs to prevent Nelson from gaining the two bowling bonus points. Laughlin had bowled too many short pitched deliveries in his 19 overs but, when he did get it right, he was difficult to handle as his 5-64 proved.
Nelson’s target was 181 and Stuart Lemon and Thompson set about laying a sound foundation. Abbas opened the bowling with his wily spin and runs were not easy to find. Nelson only managed 27 in the first 12 overs, and Abbas caused the Nelson innings to collapse. Thompson was stumped for 11, and then Sean Lemon, caught at slip for three, David Crotty, caught and bowled for eight and Peter Dibb, lbw for one, all fell victim to Abbas in quick succession. Stuart Lemon’s innings was cut short on 20 when he was caught behind off Steve Barker and half of Nelson’s batsmen were out with only 52 runs on the board.
Laughlin tried to attack the bowling but he perished, going for a big hit, caught off Andrew Sutcliffe for 18. Lord was caught, trying a reverse sweep, for two, and Nelson were in big trouble at 76-7. Chris Heap was just settling in and had made a top score of 21 when he was bowled by Abbas whilst Russell Bradley hit two sixes, both off Abbas, in an enterprising 21.
Bradley and Meade then compiled Nelson’s highest stand of the day - 31 - before Bradley was caught on the boundary edge. Sam Halstead helped Meade to take Nelson to 130, gaining one bonus point before he was stumped for 3, leaving Meade undefeated on 17.
Nelson are at Accrington on Sunday.