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Date: 25th June 2012
A Paul Edwards copyright exclusive for L&DCC Official Website.
Bridging Finance Solutions Liverpool Competition Knockout Trophy: Quarter-Final: At Beech Walk: Leigh, 186 all out (Wells 63, Hibbert 37, Cunningham 4-29, Procter 3-23) beat Firwood Bootle 165 for si
Firwood Bootle's record in the various incarnations of the Liverpool Competition's Knockout Trophy is both impressive and a little freakish. The Wadham Road side went into yesterday's quarter-final having lifted the cup in each of the eight previous years and with 14 wins in the last 16 seasons to their credit. There will, however, be a fresh name inscribed on the trophy in 2012 - and it may be that of Leigh.
Led by a typically classy 63 by Jonathan Wells and further underpinned by a tight bowling and fielding performance, Neil Williams's side dumped their skipper's former club out of this year's competition in a well-contested game at Beech Walk.
At first, though, it was doubtful whether a cricket match would take place at all on Sunday. Overnight rain had got under the covers on the wicket cut for the game and it took a number of meetings and much cogitation on the part of umpires Simon Taylor and Kevin Wilson before it was decided that a 40-over match would begin at two o'clock.
The first 15 overs of the game belonged to Leigh. Asked to be the batsmen to sample the delights of a wicket which was often demanding but never any sort of horror-track, Wells and Andy Batterley put on 87 in 15 overs before Batterley was bowled attempting to pull David Snellgrove. Run-scoring was never going to be as easy again. Luke Procter apart, the Bootle seamers leaked runs at eight-an-over, a rate which was to come back and haunt their side five hours later.
In the final 25 overs of the innings Leigh lost all their wickets in adding 99 runs. Partly, this Bootle fightback was down to the professional rectitude of Luke Procter, who conceded 23 runs in taking three wickets in 7.5 overs; partly, too, it can be explained by Snellgrove's experience - the Bootle skipper conceded only 28 runs in seven overs. But the biggest share of the credit should go to Chris Cunningham. The off-spinner took four wickets, including those of Wells, Williams and Matthew Hibbert, for 29 in eight well-controlled overs.
Indeed, only No3 Hibbert, his 37 containing two big sixes, played with much assurance in the second half of the innings; yet, paradoxically, Williams could be encouraged by his batsmen's difficulties: they helped to demonstrate how formidable a score his side's 186 all out really was, especially on a drying pitch.
Coorboration of this view was provided in the first ten overs of the Bootle innings as Craig Prince and Carl Hey struggled to cope with the control and bounce of Adam Hodgkins and the very impressive Richard Dempster. Having made nine runs 29 balls Hey gloved a barely playable delivery from the left-arm seamer to Williams and Prince skied medium-pacer Wells to the keeper when he had made 16.
Snellgrove and Procter effected a partial repair with a careful third-wicket stand of 41in ten overs, but both departed in the space of five runs, the Bootle captain run out for 27 when Procter turned down his call for a run, and the Lancashire all-rounder trapped lbw on the back foot for 18 by Matty McKiernan.
The Hine brothers contributed eight tuns between them to leave Bootle on 99 for six in the 29th over.Michael Gill and Davy Smith's determined 66-run stand in the last eleven overs was played out in the shadow of a required run-rate which was rising faster than Spain's unemployment figures or Colin Ritchie's blood pressure. 42 runs were needed off the last three overs and 21 off the last three. It was too many.
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