Sayer digs in at Southport

Lancashire v Leicestershire, Second XI Championship, Day 2:

SCORECARD

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

We arrived at Southport & Birkdale CC for day two of the Second Eleven Friendly encounter against Lancashire, a little apprehensive as to what effect torrential overnight rain had taken on the outfield. After an early morning inspection the umpires decided that an early lunch would be taken at 12.30pm, and that play would get underway at 1.10pm. 

With a considerable amount of time on my hands I meandered around the confines of the excellent clubhouse. I came across a photograph, and plaque, informing that the Clubhouse was opened by the Earl of Derby on 19 July 1965. I also found a room in the bowels of the clubhouse that was a shrine to not only Southport & Birkdale CC, but also to Lancashire CCC. 

Whilst lunch was being taken more rain fell. The umpires inspected again at 1.30pm, after which they said that if no more rain fell play would commence at 2.30pm, with a minimum of 67 overs available. 

It appeared that we were in the blue half of the outer Merseyside area, as whilst the rain was falling I noticed three different spectators with umbrellas blazoned with the badge of Everton FC. The groundstaff had been were working tirelessly throughout the morning and early afternoon. 

Some 45 minutes before play was due to start the umpires requisitioned both teams of players to assist in pulling off the large amount of sheeting that covered the square. Wore me out just watching them, as I glanced up from my newspaper, whilst taking a slurp of Earl Grey’s finest! (made that bit up it was actually breakfast tea I reckon).

Hallelujah! Play finally got underway at 2.30pm on the dot. Lancashire had by far the better of the day, progressing to 315 all out, from their overnight 286-8, Danny Lamb making his maiden 2nd XI century. County were restricted  to 108-7 in reply. Rob Sayer making 38. Also, there was a fine rearguard action late in the day by Leicestershire youngsters Ash Trusz, and Dominic Butchart. 

Lancashire resumed on their overnight 286-8. Danny Lamb 88*, Liam Hurt 9*. Richard Jones and Gavin Griffiths opened the attack. Lamb went to his 100 (12x4) from 173 balls after four overs of play. At the same time the 50 partnership came up between the pair from 71 balls. 

Hurt had taken a couple of boundaries, and also launched a humungous maximum down the ground, that possibly passed through two time zones. After six overs had been bowled Adam Ball replaced Jones at the Tennis Courts End, and only required two deliveries to wrap up the innings. 

With his first ball he had Hurt (25) caught at second slip by Tom Wells and next ball trapped Saqid Mahmood (0) lbw. Lancashire all out for 315. The changes to overnight bowling figures were; Jones 1-53 off 23, Griffiths 4-73 off 24, and Adam Ball 2-25 off 7.2.  

Sam Evans and Paul Horton opened the innings for County, but at 3.19pm after just 3.3 overs, rain stopped play with the score on 4-0. 26 minutes, amounting to 7 overs, were lost. The players returned to the field at 3.45pm, Evans and Horton facing a quite rapid opening attack of Mahmood and Hurt. 

Horton (4) was bowled shouldering arms to Hurt. Wells (6) also went bowled by Hurt. Adam Ball joined Evans in an effort to repair the damage. Evans and Ball grafted well. They were like a football team in the embryonic stages of management under Tony Pulis, not pretty to watch, but very effective. 

Evans (5 from 38 balls) eventually succumbed when he edged seamer Chris Sanders behind to keeper Brooke Guest. Rob Sayer joined Adam Ball and looked very assured. Sayer played two sublime cover drives, one off Saunders, the other off Hurt, both reaching the ropes. 

Adam Ball was also looking solid, and there appeared a prospect of County bouncing back. It was somewhat of a surprise, when in the last over before tea, Ball (13) left a ball from Saunders and was bowled. Leaves were not only to be seen on the nearby railway line. County went into tea on 46-4 from 17.3 overs, Sayer 10*. 

Andrew Rishton joined Sayer after tea, but was soon on his way without scoring, caught in the gully by Tyler Cornall off Sanders. The third wicket of the innings for The Colonel, not just only that chappie Mustard, who plies his trade for Gloucestershire, that is called The Colonel you know… (think KFC and Cluedo for a matching pair). 

Harry Swindells joined Sayer, and we had the highest partnership of the innings so far from Leicestershire’s SAS (Sayer & Swindells). Both batsmen were defending stoutly whilst picking up runs from any loose deliveries. They both took leg-side boundaries off medium pacer Josh Bohannon. 

At 5.35pm, after 35 overs had been bowled, with threatening clouds looming, and the light fading, the admirable groundstaff assembled around the covers. Spinners were introduced to the attack as any bowling of medium pace, or above, would have resulted in a stoppage for bad light. 

After 2.4 overs of spin, Sayer (38 from 79 balls), went bowled by Arron Lilley. Ash Trusz joined Swindells. As if by magic, the sun came out, and a rainbow appeared in the sky on the far side of the ground. Lancashire skipper Rob Jones reintroduced one of his pacemen, Mahmood back into the attack. With his second delivery Mahmood had Swindells (18 from 50 balls), caught behind by keeper Guest. County 93-7 from 38.2. 

There were 12.4 overs remaining in the day, and an outside chance that County may have to bat again tonight. It was not to be however as Trusz and Dominic Butchart played out the remaining over’s in a manner that belied their tender years. They had to face the full force of Mahmood in full cry, the odd bouncer being in the mix as well, but they got firmly in line. 

Mahmood was withdrawn from the attack with four overs of the day remaining. I cannot speak too highly of the way these two youngsters defended. In somewhat limited descriptive ability, in football mode, imagine a couple of young central defenders keeping a clean sheet against a Premiership attack. Trusz 5* from 43 balls, Butchart 2* from 35 balls. 

Those Pointless hosts Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman would have been in awe of Trusz and Butchart, the lower the individual score, the better the performance in these circumstances. If you can get your head round that one it is a complimentary summary of their fine rearguard action. 

County closing on 108-7 from 51 overs, trailing by 207 runs going into the final day. Play for the day finished at 7.00pm, another lengthy shift for all concerned. Before closing, very well done to each and every one of the Southport & Birkdale CC Groundstaff, many of them, if not all of them, being volunteers I suspect.

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