Griffiths takes four at Southport

Lancashire v Leicestershire, Second XI Championship, Day 1:

SCORECARD

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

We arrived at Southport CC for a three-day Second XI Friendly against Lancashire, the penultimate game of the season for the 2s. 

Southport and Birkdale Cricket Club amalgamated in 1902 and joined the Liverpool Cricket Competition in 1919. Southport and Birkdale CC boast some of the best facilities in the Liverpool Cricket Competition, I am told, with Lancashire 1st and 2nd XIs playing regularly at Trafalgar Road. 

The Southport and Birkdale Sports Club complex has facilities for cricket, hockey, squash, and tennis. On this ground on 29 August 2013, Glen Chapple and Simon Kerrigan made Lancashire 1st XI’s highest tenth wicket partnership in the County Championship in a match against Hampshire. 

Southport and Birkdale CC ground has a railway line running very adjacent, and extremely close, to the boundary on the far side of the ground, opposite the pavilion. A regular train service between Southport and Liverpool operates every 15 minutes along this line. 

House gardens, fronted by a white painted wall, back up to the ground at the Scoreboard End. Now that we are in September, matches start at 10.30am.The day’s play was curtailed as a result of bad light with 16 overs still remaining to be bowled. 

Honours just about finished even with Lancashire making 286-8, thank to an undefeated 88 from Danny Lamb. Gavin Griffiths weighed in with four wickets for County, Tom Wells picking up three wickets, and Richard Jones one wicket. 

Included in the Leicestershire side were Cameron Ball, a seamer who has appeared for Derbyshire Second XI, and Andrew Rishton, an all-rounder who has turned out for Loughborough MCCU. Rishton was born in Boston, Massachusetts, so is possibly one of an exclusive number of people, born Stateside, to have represented Leicestershire 2s. If you know of any others, answers on a postcard please.

Paul Horton was skippering County, but his opposite number Rob Jones won the toss, and elected to bat. There was a sprinkling of some 20 or so spectators present when play commenced, the majority of them occupying the seats in front of the pavilion. 

Callum Turner and Tyler Cornall opened the innings for Lancashire, both left handers. Griffiths and Jones opened the attack for County. Griffiths and Jones, a very Welsh sounding opening attack. 

After nine overs had been bowled, rain stopped play for 15 minutes with Lancashire being on 27-0. Turner the dominant partner being 24*. The pair brought up their 50 partnership from 16.3 of which Cornall had contributed nine runs. Just after the 50 partnership had come up Cornall (10) was bowled by Wells, who had replaced Jones at the Scoreboard End. 

Jones joined Turner. Turned soon afterwards brought up his 50 (7x4) from 78 balls, the total on 75-1 from 23.5. Where the scorers were sitting we had a 50 plus inch screen TV, behind us to our left, that was showing the Warwickshire v Essex game, complete with commentary, so that spectators could hear it. 

Behind us to our right we had a one armed bandit (fruit machine) that a gentleman was eagerly playing. He was on it for a good 30 minutes, shovelling money in at regular intervals but without any return for his investment. The fruit machine was regurgitating a cacophony of sounds, similar to those of a synthesiser every time the wheels spun to a halt. It was pure bliss when the gentleman forlornly trooped out of the pavilion after some 30 minutes of feverishly feeding the machine with a mountain of loose change. 

Lancashire went into lunch on 84-1 from 28 overs, Turner 52*, Jones 12*. After 16.1 overs of the afternoon session County had reduced Lancashire to 129-6. Turner (56) went 4.5 overs after lunch when he was expertly caught, low down at first slip, by Horton off Griffiths. 

Rob Jones (25) was then caught and bowled by Richard Jones. Jones the ball dismissing Jones the bat. Without addition to the score Josh Bohannon (0) was a second victim for the Horton/Griffiths combination, Horton again safely catching one at first slip. 

Brooke Guest (7), a rather distinguished name, had one of his stumps uprooted by Wells, and Ed Fluck (0) went caught in the gully by Rob Sayer off Wells. 129-6 from 44.1. 

Lancashire then had a revival thanks to a 50 partnership between Lamb and Sam Oldham. Their 50 alliance came up from 82 balls with the score on 179-6 from 46.2. Lamb subsequently went to his 50 (8x4) from 77 balls with the he score on 194-6 from 62.1. At 4.03pm rain stopped play with the score on 209-6 from 70 overs, and tea was taken. Lamb 57* Oldham 34*. 

During the day’s play to date, I had noticed that trains were passing in each direction, on the railway lines over on the far side of the ground, every 15 minutes, to and from Southport to Liverpool. When a train went towards Southport Station, it returned in the opposite direction exactly 10 minutes later. 

The majority of trains had just three carriages (diesel multiple units, to give them their correct terminology, if any train spotters are reading this). The multiple units were either yellow of grey in colour. At peak times six multiple units made up the train. Good Old Blowers has had his considerable expertise rub off on somebody after all! 

Play resumed at 4.42pm, no overs being lost as the Golden Hour operates on days one and two. Only four runs had been added when Oldham (34) was caught by keeper Harry Swindells off Griffiths, who was having his first spell at the Scoreboard End.

Arron Lilley joined Lamb, and the pair developed a 50 partnership from 62 balls with the score on 265-7 from 82.1 overs. The new ball having been taken immediately it was due after 80 overs. The next ball following this 50 partnership saw Lilley (31) caught at cover by Wells off Griffiths, who had now reverted to the Tennis Court End. 

At 5.53pm the umpires took the players from the field due to bad light. Lamb 88*, Liam Hurt 9*. Lancashire at 286-8 from 88 overs. Soon afterwards with no prospect of the light improving, as a result of gathering dark clouds, play was abandoned for the day. Griffiths returned figures of 4-62 from 21. Wells 3-52 from 16, Jones 1-36 from 20. Other bowlers were: Sayer 0-62 from 15, Cameron Ball 0-26 from 5, Adam Ball 0-25 from 7, and Rishton 0-14 from 4.

An early finish gave me ample opportunity to leisurely complete my day’s duties, pack away, and make my way to the Mersey Rail Stadium, on Haig Avenue, Southport for the Vanarama North game between Southport and Harrogate Town. 

I won’t bore you with the fact that I have been on all 92 current League Grounds, just in case you did not know, but this will be the 18th ground I have visited currently in the fifth or sixth tier of the football pyramid.

PS - very late in the evening news; Harrogate won 4-1, and I managed to get free admission. Went in the club shop, struck up a conversation with the 2 blokes behind the counter, one of them being the Programme Editor, having done the job for the past 20 years! After a lengthy conversation, they whistled me up a free ticket for the match. 

I noticed there was one charge for admission, and that you could sit or stand anywhere. It was £13 for Adults, £10 Concessions, quite expensive, in my opinion, for the sixth tier of football. I noticed that Mark Wright, the ex England, Southampton, Derby County and Liverpool defender is a big cheese at Southport FC. 

The official attendance given out over the PA was 868, including 51 who had travelled over from Harrogate. Currently blowing a gale, and hammering it down as we approach 11.00pm in Southport, does not bode well for play to start on time tomorrow.

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