Nelson Cricket Club officials tried all week to engage a sub pro for Saturday’s match with Rawtenstall but all attempts were in vain.
In the end, an Australian friend of Neil Thompson, Maxwell Schlicker, on holiday in England, stepped into the breach at the last minutes.
Nelson also had a problem due to an injury to Richard Meade, and Michael Bradley was recalled to fill that gap.
The match started in front of a very sparse crowd, mainly due to Burnley FC being at home with an early kick-off.
Rawtenstall won the toss and elected to bat and made a useful start.
Chris Cook-Martin and Daniel Southworth put on 30 for the first wicket inside six overs, but, once Sam Halstead trapped Cook-Martin in front for 9, wickets began to tumble.
Sam Kershaw (2) and professional Brett Pelser (6) went the same way – lbw to Halstead.
Southworth was also out lbw, this time to Neil Thompson for a neat 24.
Matt Kershaw and Joe McCluskie rescued the situation for Rawtenstall and kept the Nelson bowlers at bay for 23 overs whilst compiling a stand of 76.
Yet another lbw decision saw McCluskie perish at the hands of Harrison Phelan for 36.
Dean Barlow did not stay long and he was caught by Halstead at midon off Khurrum Nazir for none.
Nick Payne helped Kershaw to add a further 37 before he was caught off the bowling of Phelan for 26.
In a mad panic at the end of the overs, Imran Abid was run out for 1, leaving Kershaw undefeated, after scoring a patient 44, and Rawtenstall on 166-8. Halstead was the pick of the Nelson bowlers with 3-21.
Lewis Bradley was bowled by Rizwan Shafiq for 3 early in Nelson’s reply but Russell Bradley and Harrison Phelan staged a 59-run partnership inside 20 overs to give their side a strong foundation.
However, the introduction of veteran spinner, Keith Roscoe, into the attack undid the Nelson batting line-up.
Phelan chanced his arm but was caught at longon for 20 to give Roscoe his first wicket.
The standin pro Schlicker was bowled by Roscoe for 2 and then Imran Abid had Thompson lbw for 5.
Meanwhile, Russell Bradley reached his second 50 of the season and brought up Nelson’s 100 with his seventh four. Needing 66 to win from 12 overs, though, everything went pearshaped for Nelson.
Bradley was stumped for 63 and Nazir was lbw first ball – both Roscoe victims. Toxy Hussain made a valiant 20 until he was caught on the boundary and Uzair Khalid made 12 before Abid took a simple return catch to dismiss him. Sam Halstead (0) and Mick Bradley (4) were out in quick succession, leaving Nelson the losers by 33 runs.
Abid returned figures of 4-43 whilst Roscoe had yet another ‘fivefor’ – 5-40.
Nelson face a mighty task this weekend with Lowerhouse visiting Seedhill tomorrow and Nelson travelling to Burnley on Sunday.