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The firsts flew the flag in the season opener against a Bury side that escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season. With the ground bathed in sunshine, Will Davidson and Adam Holt set about the Bury attack after a measured start before Will tried to sweep a full delivery and was bowled. Crossy then chased a wide one and was caught in the cordon bringing Sam Dorsey to the wicket to herald the start of a 97 run partnership in just over 20 overs before Adam got ‘giddy’ (his words) and was out for 89. Sam also got to 50 before perishing in the late order run chase that took the score to a challenging 211-9. Bury then made a decent start before effectively handing the game to Crossy’s men with three match defining run-outs resulting from stuttering running and some decent fielding. After that, Bury could only huff and puff their way to 124 with wickets for four of the five bowlers in action with Joe McCann perhaps being the pick with 2-22 off 10.

 

The seconds had a day to forget down the road in Swinton on a typical April wicket which none of Chris Lord’s line up came to terms with. Jim Ainscough (32) and Rob Reade (22) scored the bulk of the 94 which was never going to be enough and so it proved as the hosts saw off the required runs in just over 20 overs with Rob Meredith and Sarfriaz Jan taking a couple of wickets apiece.

 

The thirds enjoyed their own sun-fest at Gin Pit, though in truth there was more than a bit of a nip in the air. A young side, led by Andy Tocher after Nick Flaxman pulled a fetlock opening his car boot, were well beaten, despite a measured 65 not out from Robert Lord which included eleven fours. The final total of 152 looked a forlorn hope at 76-6 but sadly the bowling and fielding was not up to scratch and Astley & Tyldesley eased to a six wicket win. Lots of positives though with a number of young players featuring at the start of career defining seasons for them as Nick and Andy will give them every opportunity to flourish.

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It was a thriller in every sense at Glossop on April 29th as the firsts showed that they may well be developing that vital quality of never knowing when they are beaten. Egerton had that last season and finished champions and Crossy’s men went top of the embryonic league table with a three run victory that really was snatched from the jaws of defeat. The skipper was at the fore throughout, with his astute captaincy adding to an innings of 68 during which he never looked like getting out despite joining Sam Dorsey for an 86 run rescue act from a score of 5-2. He then re-entered the bowling fray for a match winning second spell that, supported by Joe McCann, strangled the life out of the Glossop reply when they looked odds on with two set batsmen at the crease needing 45 off 12 overs. With Adam Rodzoch and Steve Cheetham missing and Liam Hurt misfiring and unable to repeat his eight wicket demolition of the same opponents last season, Joe McCann 1-28 off 10 and Greg Jennings 2-27 off 15 stepped up to the plate. Joe had possibly his best game in a Clifton shirt, as he had earlier replaced the skipper to hold together the batting attack at the death with a well planned and executed 32 not out. Sam Dorsey’s 24 was supplemented by three composed catches in the outfield and Robert Lord added to the existing cohort of mid-teens by making his debut in a thrilling win.

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The seconds managed to provide the absolute antithesis of the firsts performance as they dominated the game for almost its entirety before the cavalier Littleborough Lakeside rearguard provided their own thrilling finale to a game they never looked like winning. A last wicket stand of 36 put the icing on the cake after a recovery from 175-8 saw the visitors overhaul a total of 225 that had looked good enough throughout. Rob Reade added to his performance last week with four wickets and 28 runs and Andy Tocher scored a welcome 59 off 80 balls after Chris Lord’s 44 had provided the platform. Andy Lord (32) added to the lower middle order contribution as 85 runs were scored off the last 13 overs. So, the seconds are yet to break their duck but the signs are there that the first vital win is not far away.

 

On Sunday, their fortunes were more positive as Deane & Derby were summarily dispatched in the 2nd XI Cup Preliminary Round. Batting first, the visitors made early inroads to 52-3 but a partnership of 96 between old hands Ian Morris (66) and Jim Ainscough (26) eased the nerves nicely. The lower order then went berserk with Rob Reade picking up his maiden 50 at better than a run a ball and Liam Dorsey muscling in with 53 off 28 balls including 24 off the final over taking the score to 315-8. Shellshocked D&D had no answer after the break as all six bowlers struck to reduce the visitors to 138 all out and secure a place in the first round.

 

The thirds will not be gracing the 1st round of the Sunday Cup however in a game that produced few positives; the exception being the performance of 14 year old Ethan Harding who hit the timbers three times in a spell of 3-19 off eight overs followed up by six boundaries in a score of 36. However, in a game that incredibly yielded 105 extras including 81 wides, the 47 wides given away by the Clifton attack proved decisive as the reply to Astley Bridge’s 206 fell just two runs short as the skipper was caught in the deep off the penultimate ball. Sound like another thriller, but in truth it was a poor, low quality game.

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Sam86.jpgA sensational game of cricket dominated by a fifteen year old batsman saw the firsts go top of the Premier Division after yet another nail biter, this time against previously unbeaten Prestwich. Last year’s runners up won the toss and batted and for the first few overs looked like they might post a massive score, but Liam Hurt was extracting some pace and managed to pick up two crucial wickets within the space of five deliveries and suddenly the visitors were 24-2. The game then entered a phase where partnerships were broken at vital stages, a trend that continued in the second innings. A partnership of 57 took Prestwich to 148-6 and the tail wagged annoyingly as they finally posted 189-9. However, that was a total that Crossy’s men would have taken at 1.00pm and they would probably have been the happier at tea. That joy quickly evaporated as the visitors bullied their way to 17-4 with both openers, Gareth Cross and Joe McCann back in the hutch. However, still there and growing in stature with every shot, Sam Dorsey set about his one-man rescue act. The key partnership in the second innings was the 86 between him and James Evans (48), then, as in the first innings, partnerships were broken at vital moments as the game swung back and forth. The big difference was that Sam Dorsey remained rooted at one end as his partners came and went. Overs were never really an issue, but when Steve Cheetham came out 165-8, 25 runs were still needed. He provided the perfect foil for young Sam with a vitally important 12 not out but it was the 86 runs superbly crafted by Sam in a minute short of three hours at the crease that really caught the eye in what could be a season defining victory.

The seconds made it two wins on the day, but their victory ©was more on the emphatic rather than nail-biting scale. Once mighty Radcliffe boasted professionals such as Sirs Gary Sobers and Frank Worrall and it was good to hear that the club that almost folded is now showing green shoots of recovery. On the field, Chris Lord and Chris Royle put on a swift 80 before the middle order struggled and the next 60 took 20 overs for the loss of five more wickets. Rob Lord and Rob Reade then rescued things with aplomb, putting on an unbroken 57 in the final nine overs. The third Rob (Meredith) nipped out a couple as Radcliffe replied and the rest of the attack then took wickets at regular intervals with re-born spinner Jim Ainscough and Sarfraiz Jan taking three apiece for 26 and 27 respectively. So a morale boosting win for Lordy’s men against a previously unbeaten 1st XI should provide the impetus for a climb up the table in the weeks to come.

It looks like the thirds will be embroiled in a relegation tussle after defeat to Glenn Bullock’s Westhoughton, despite their, once again, being nothing to choose between the teams on the day. Some poor bowling, shot selection and especially fielding according to the skipper, led to their downfall in an entertaining game. Bully’s boys posted 220-9 with the big man smashing a quick 26 not out, but that was forty more than they should have got and that and another plethora of wides (20) was the difference despite Sam Brown (40) and Alex Cunliffe (31) putting on 82 for the first wicket with few alarms. That quickly became 87-3 before debutant Roman Slusarenko and Liam Dorsey put on 84 in 19 overs. However, they both fell on 171 and despite the best efforts of the tail, overs slipped away as Bully strangled the batsmen and a 22 run defeat ensued. The best two partnerships of the innings saw both partners fall without a run being added, so perhaps something to discuss in the dressing room next week.

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4

cross 6.jpgPerhaps the most positive aspect of Saturday’s fourth straight win and a table topping performance that opened a nice little gap between Crossy’s men and the chasing pack, was the fact that there are contributions coming from the whole team which is making it all possible. Furthermore, the talents of Liam Hurt, Will Davidson and Adam Rodzoch have not been fully utilised so far, suggesting that there is more in the tank. This week it was the skipper who stepped up to the plate with a belligerent innings that started with four boundaries in one over and never looked back until he had reached 101. That moment when the boundary catch was taken was the only blemish on an innings that epitomised how a batsman should dominate a bowling attack. He was once again well supported by Joe McCann (23) and James Evans(15) before the innings fell away disappointingly to 212 despite a nice cameo from Greg (11) at the death, that reminded us all that he can bat. It wasn’t all plain sailing though, when the Flixton openers caused mayhem, attacking the bowling like they were chasing 400, not 212. After 22 deliveries, they were 37-0 having scored seven 4s and a six and had they then composed themselves to chase the remaining 175 at 3.5 an over, should have won in a canter. However, it was the Clifton captain and his bowlers that maintained their composure as Greg once again ground his way back into his rhythm and completed his 15 over spell with three more wickets. Crossy will have slept well having bowled 14 overs to add to his two hours at the crease and then Matt Wright, stepping in admirably once again to accommodate Steve Cheetham’s work pattern, chipped in with two in a mean spell that negated a couple of worrying late partnerships. How nice it was as well, to see two left arm spinners bowling in tandem towards the end of the innings that was mopped up by Liam Hurt who was just too much for Flixton’s somewhat startled late order. How nice it was too, to see the Flixton lads playing pool and darts and chatting cricket with Crossy’s boys until after darkness engulfed the ground.

It’s a rare double header weekend next week with a trip to the new Lostock grounds on Sunday in the Lancashire Knockout.

Chris Lord couldn’t help his beaming countenance as he heralded a ‘complete performance’ from the seconds who have forgotten early season reverses and lined up three successive, very convincing, victories. With player availability at an all time high, the pressure on all the team to keep their place is producing some very one-sided outcomes as Denton West became the latest victims. Even the most ardent West supporter would have to admit that their side were never once in the game, despite 64 from Matt Lowndes, one of only two to make double figures as the home side were bowled out for 113. Four bowlers shared the spoils with Liam Dorsey’s 3-12 catching the eye and Rob Reade continuing his purple patch with 3-36. His batting exploits of recent weeks were not required on the day however, as Chris Lord (67*) aided by 23 extras, guided his side to a six wicket win with almost 20 overs to spare. It’s Dukinfield next up, who share an identical record with Lordy’s team who are now only four points from an unlikely top spot in the table.

With Edgworth rather troublingly unable to raise a third XI, Nick’s men had week four off and with the side out of the cup, there’s unfortunately no fixture for two more weeks.

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5

The firsts remained top of the pile but lost their unbeaten record in a rain affected contest at Denton West. The home side made better use of the conditions with bat and ball, posting 162-6 in the 26 overs available and making use of some inconsistent bowling. A lot of the batting was agricultural but effective as anything short and especially over-pitched was summarily dispatched. Fortunately, the later batsmen were not able to continue the same rate, but nevertheless, 162 represented a chase that was compiled at more than a run a ball. Adam Holt and Will Davidson created a good base with 40 in 8 overs and Sam Dorsey played the perfect support innings of 41 in 40 balls, but sadly nobody was able to stay with him as the home side’s bowlers exploited the variable bounce and movement in a way that ours hadn’t and the innings fizzled out at 130 off the penultimate ball of the innings.

lord6.jpgLordy’s legends made it four on the bounce with the skipper playing the sort of belligerent innings that Crossy played last week as he peppered the Clifton boundary during a 130 run chase in a game of 25 overs per side. He finished with 90 not out in 72 balls, with more than fifty coming in boundaries. Chris Royle watched on in bemusement at the other end, as he contributed nine to an opening partnership of 69. Earlier, the bowlers had tried manfully to contain a Dukinfield batting line up that seemed to relish a 25 over thrash as they put on 60 for the first wicket. Lordy moved his bowlers around well though and stopped them getting away, taking wickets at vital times. The final eight wicket margin may have been a touch flattering but with three overs to spare in a shortened game, it was convincing nonetheless as the team, despite losing its first two games, moved effortlessly into a lofty third place in the table.

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6

The much anticipated top-of-the-table clash with Woodbank turned out to be a damp squib as the side produced their worst performance of the season in a rain affected defeat. The only bright spot was a much awaited return to form for Will Davidson (52*) who carried his bat through the DLS affected innings that fell well short of Woodbank’s 216-7.

There was a poor batting performance from the seconds as well and despite the bowlers turning the match into a thriller, the half century from Elton Vale’s number 3 proved the difference as Lordy’s men went down to an agonising one wicket defeat. The 108 posted was a poor effort with Nick Flaxman (26) top scoring and despite 5-25 from Rob Meredith, it became a double weekend of league defeats for the club.

It was a different story on Sunday however, as cup weekend descended on the club. Droylsden, complete with mini-bus full of fans, arrived at Manchester Road for the 1st round tie and batted first. It didn’t start well for the 2nd division side who found themselves 4-2 in the fifth over. However, they rallied well before losing four wickets for 25 in reaching 102-6. To their credit, they rallied again and eventually posted a respectable 164 with Steve Cheetham (3-38) providing the best bowling figures. There the contests effectively ended as Will Davidson (54) and Adam Holt (68*), aided and abetted by 39 wides, took the score to within one run of the visitor’s score before Will, appearing to try to hit the ball into Swinton Precinct, was bowled. That was the last ball of the over and Holty dispatched the next one for four, so Crossy didn’t even face a ball in the nine wicket win.

The seconds registered, if anything, an even more impressive nine wicket victory at Winton. The home side posted 184-9 on Winton’s usual flat surface with Rob Reade taking 4-35 and Liam Dorsey bowling a mean ten overs, taking 2-21. Ben Sykes, standing in for Chris Royle and Chris Lord, then set about reaching the total with a plethora of runs that saw Ben (33) out in the eighth over with 60 already on the board. Dan Ainscough (66*) continued the punishment and Chris Lord (56*) was starved of the strike (he says) and took on a watching brief from the non-striker’s end as the 187 required were posted in the 27th over.

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7

A depleted Kingfishers T20 side started the defence of their GMCL champions crown with a stunning victory against Prestwich Heat on a cold Friday evening that warmed up the cockles of the spectators that had braved the conditions. After Crossy smashed 36 off 18 balls, the rest tried, but failed to emulate his degree of physical violence inflicted upon the ball, although Adam Holt (43 off 35) and Sam Dorsey (39 off 39) ensured that the final total surpassed seven an over. The visitors set off in pursuit of the 145 total with equal gusto, the first wicket falling to the 39th legitimate delivery with 52 on the board. A further 42 in 37 were added before the next wicket fell and the visitors were coasting. The bowling attack, led by Crossy (4-31) then stepped up to the mark and wickets tumbled leaving Greg Jennings to bowl the last over with 6 needed and 3 wickets remaining. The first two balls yielded singles making Prestwich firm favourites, but Greg followed up by bowling Gibson. The new batsman could do nothing with the next delivery and allowed the pressure to take over as he ran himself out on ball five. Needing four off the final ball, the last man felt the ball rap into his bats for a dot ball and a thrilling three run victory.

The firsts registered an unwanted hat-trick of league defeats on the usual difficult playing surface at Egerton. It was plainly obvious throughout the game how the home side understood and used the unique conditions better than Crossy’s men who found runs extremely difficult to accumulate, scoring only 117-6 in the full allocation of 50 overs with Sam Dorsey battling away bravely for almost two hours for his 35 not out. With late withdrawals from Liam Hurt and Adam Rodzoch, Greg Jennings and Steve Cheetham set about defending the meagre total and had immediate success in the first over. The home side’s reply then changed the odds this way and that for the entire innings with nobody on the ground able to confidently predict the outcome. At 25-3, the visitors were on top, but when that became 69-3, the home side were coasting. However, that quickly became 69-5, with Adam Holt producing an inspired run out whilst the rest of the players and spectators were awaiting the outcome of an lbw decision. A partnership of 25 swung the game back again but Crossy’s men again refused to lie down as 94-5 became 99-8. The stubborn 9th wicket partnership took the score to within two of victory before Cheets struck. However, it wasn’t to be as the final two runs duly arrived giving Egerton their first GMCL victory over Crossy’s men.

The seconds produced possibly their worst performance of the season at home to Edgworth. The visitors posted a challenging 210-8 as rain curtailed their innings short. The vagaries of the DLS system weren’t to be needed though; this despite another scintillating opening partnership of 91 in 12 overs. The batting then collapsed spectacularly with only Rob Reade managing double figures with all ten wickets falling for 41 runs.

The thirds carried the flag for the club in some style on Sunday, with as complete a performance as has been seen for some time against high-flyers Greenmount. It was not without its early difficulties though as the visitors punished any wayward delivery expertly and with 14 overs still available they were sitting pretty at 150-4. However, led by Joe Parker (5-25), the attack slowly strangled the later batsmen and captured the last six wickets for just 28 runs which was an admirable performance against the unbeaten visitors. Ben Sykes (20) and Joe Parker (16) then threw their wickets away with lazy shots having looked comfortable and then Chris Royle (15) picked out the only fielder in sight with a full blooded flick off a full toss and the jitters set in. However, Sam Brown (45) and Andy Tocher (42*) put together a match winning stand of 80 and Roman Slusarenko (17 off 16), having returned from hospital after sustaining a hefty blow on the nose, saw off the remaining runs with an over to spare to give Nick’s boys a vital first win and a confidence boost just when it was most needed.

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8

The Kingfishers T20 crown is in the balance after Roe Green produced a superb response to the 152 that they posted on another overcast evening. Crossy again set the platform with 54 off 34 with four sixes. Will, Adam and Sam went cheaply before James Evans (25 off 17) and Liam Hurt (28 off 17) put on 53 in quick time. Unfortunately both went within three balls and although Joe Mac (14 off 13) tried to hold the tail together, the innings petered out. Two wickets in the first five overs made things interesting, but a partnership of 54 followed by another unbroken one of 52 gave the visitors a comfortable win with an over to spare.

At last the firsts managed to win a rain affected game when they were just too good all over the field for Walshaw. The visitors rely heavily on their batting and according to ex Cliftoner Steve Holt, were delighted to have kept the score down to 228-9 after yet another opening partnership, this time 81 in less than 15 overs with Adam Holt looking like he was going to score a thousand. However, he gave his wicket away when on 68 in only the 20th over – silly boy. Sam Dorsey stepped in and scored his own half century and an unexpected twist in the batting order brought Liam Hurt to the crease where he followed up last evening’s exploits with 31 in 20 balls including three huge sixes to please the crowd which by this time had grown to about 10. Then the rains arrived and Messrs D,L and S entered the fray. The result was a run chase of around 140 in 20 overs which was well within the reach of the free scoring Walshaw top order. That evaporated inside five balls as opener McClung and Blignaut, sporting an average of over 50, both had their stumps demolished by Liam Hurt. Once Greg Jennings removed the dangerous Bhojani it was game over despite a brave rearguard action and five points on a rain affected day that moved Crossy’s men into the top 3.

The wheels have most definitely come off the seconds’ revival after a third successive defeat, this time at Irlam on a wet day in a match restricted to 41 overs. Batting first, Jamie Royle, replacing his partying brother went early, but Jim Ainscough (44) and Chris Lord then took the score on to 50 before Lordy (30) fell. The middle order then plodded their way to 109 before three wickets fell in quick succession on that score. Kurt Davies (15*) and Roman Slusarenko (17*) rescued the situation as 144-7 was posted. It seemed a fairly par score in the circumstances but the home side managed to put together a series of useful partnerships with no batsman failing to reach double figures. As a result, the hosts surpassed the 144 with eight overs in hand and only four wickets lost.

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In stark contrast to the seconds and thirds, the firsts had a disastrous weekend number 9, as Summer finally arrived and spectators turned from white fish into lobsters. On Saturday, they went to Denton St Lawrence with high hopes of overtaking the South Manchester side into second spot and all seemed well as Liam Hurt (2-52) and Greg Jennings (3-72) reduced the home side to 26-2. A match defining partnership of 120 ensued and although both participants were eventually removed, a late flurry took the home team’s score to 236-8. Once again, the opening pair provided a platform for the reply with 77 in less than 15 overs, but the rest weren’t able to capitalise with 5,6 and 7 managing 3 runs between them and despite an entertaining 21 from Greg Jennings, the innings petered out to a disappointing 182. Will Davidson’s form continues to pick up with another half century and that continued into Sunday when he scored 62 in a partnership of 127 with Gareth Cross (67). This time the middle order did respond and despite the absence of Sam Dorsey on County duty, James Evans stepped up to the plate, smashing an unbeaten 74 off 47 balls which included six mighty sixes. That allowed his side to post a seemingly unassailable 257-6 after an unbeaten partnership of 94 with Steve Cheetham, achieved in just nine overs, appeared to have knocked the wind out of Egerton sails. Despite an opening partnership of 64, the hosts found the size of the score daunting and soon succumbed to 99-6, but then one of those one-offs in cricket occurred as a number eight batsman comes to the crease and aided by some frankly poor bowling, smashes 71 runs. There was still work to do though as the game, which continued to enthral the large crowd, saw further wickets go and the last pair come together with 23 still needed. The impetus was with the hosts by now though and a spectacular match ended in a second unfortunate one wicket defeat against Egerton in the space of three weeks.

 

In contrast, the twos had a brilliant weekend achieving two eight wickets wins and a place in the last eight of the cup against Bamford Fieldhouse at the end of the month. On Saturday, Deane and Derby, who had thrashed our second XI at the end of last season, were given a taste of their own medicine after being reduced to 218 that included a disappointing 41 extras. Andrew Lord and Sarfraiz Jan both took three wickets as the visitors failed to use up their overs with tea being taken seven overs earlier than anticipated which was a bonus for the team in the sweltering heat. Chris Royle went early in the reply, but there the game ended as a contest as Chris Lord (52) and the Ainscoughs, Jim (80*) and Dan (41*) saw off the runs with a full fourteen overs to spare in as resounding a win as the side have mustered all season. Worth noting too that only 88 of those runs came in boundaries as the running between the wickets was excellent despite the heat. On Sunday the 2nd XI Cup came to town in the shape of old rivals Walshaw and despite being from a lower division, they posted two runs more than Saturday’s league opposition with 220 on the board at tea. Again Sarfraiz Jan was the pick of the bowlers with 3-36 and thankfully only 18 extras conceded. A second eight wicket win was then confirmed inside 40 overs despite a second failure by Chris Royle. This time it was Dan Ainscough (86*) who took the plaudits with Chris Lord (43) reaching 500 for the season and Jamie Royle (57*) at last finding some form and a place in the quarter finals of the cup.

 

Ten boys and a girl took on Littleborough Lakeside on their traditionally difficult playing surface on Sunday and came away with a hard fought 17 run win, which again was described as the best of the season by skipper Nick. Batting first, the top three all scored 50, with a maiden Clifton half century for Ethan Harding that was equalled by Sam Brown (63) and Alex Cunliffe (51) posting a target of 217 in the 40 overs. Charlie Cook (2-31), who had earlier chipped in with 23 runs, Paul Greenhalgh (3-21) who’s performance was no doubt booted by the possibility of his sister taking more wickets, Jack Golland (3-43) and Jack Barton (2-45) then did the business, bowling out the hosts with nine balls remaining and nineteen runs short of their target.

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Week ten started early for the firsts, with Winton Warriors playing home games on a Thursday and the Kingfishers cruised effortlessly into the knockout stages with a resounding 101 run victory. The tone of the game was set in the first over when Gareth Cross smashed 26 off the unfortunate opening bowler on his way to scoring 62 off only 22 deliveries. After just four overs, the scoreboard showed 68-0 and as wickets fell, the replacements continued to make hay, resulting in a score of 219-4 at a shade short of 11 an over. Joe McCann then struck in the first over of the host’s reply and a further two fell in the fifth over at which stage they had amassed only 31 runs. Crossy was then able to use nine bowlers, with Adam Holt missing out (thankfully after last week!). The chances of Winton “doing an Egerton” were practically zero however and despite Saf conceding one particularly punishing over, six different bowlers were able to capture wickets and we were also treated to a thrilling direct hit by Sam Dorsey, running out his victim from midwicket.

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