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Date: 23rd July 2012
A Paul Edwards copyright exclusive for L&DCC Official Website.
LCB Knockout Cup: Quarter-Final: Bootle 192-8 (Hey 39, Smith 29, Purser 25, Prince 23, Carr 23no; Malik 3-34) beat Norden 191-7 (Price 100, Bunting 3-35) by two wickets
Tom Carr is a member of a fairly illustrious Bootle family, but until Sunday he really had no personal achievement to put beside his father's 10 for 66 against Birkenhead Park in 1991. Even now, 23 not out does not have the faintly magical ring of "all ten wickets".
That, though, won't matter to anyone, least of all Tom's dad. For while Dick's bowling helped to win a Liverpool Competition match 21 years ago, his son's vital innings was crucial to David Snellgrove's side securing a place in the semi-finals of this season's LCB Knockout Cup. No wonder Carr gave a little leap in the air when Chris Cunningham's leg-bye completed the small epic played out at Norden's lovely Stag Park ground.
Carr had arrived at the wicket with his side on 137 for six in the 33rd over, and for about ten minutes it was hard to see how he would make a significant contribution to Bootle's pursuit of 192. However, reassured by his partner Craig Prince that this was still cricket and not some form of mental torture, he began to bat with more assurance, hitting home skipper Dexter Fitton for a four and a six in the same over.
After needing 52 off ten overs, Bootle required just another 24 off seven, and neither the departure of Prince, apparently caught behind for a valuable 23, nor that of Stephen Bunting, caught by Stephen Pimm at cover for a useful 15, could derail Bootle's pursuit. All the same, Cunningham may have been fortunate indeed to survive an lbw shout which would have left James Dixon with three needed and little margin for error. No one would be labelling it an injustice if Norden were carrying the Central Lancashire League banner into the last four next month.
Fitton's team certainly provided the man of the match in the South African all-rounder Michael Price, whose 111-ball 100 was the heart and soul of his side's 191 for seven in 45 overs. Two crunching on-drives off Will Purser in the first over of the game perhaps threatened a complete dominance which Price never quite achieved, as he plainly saw it as his responsibility to ensure Norden posted a properly defendable total on a greenish pitch.
Nonetheless, having seen their side reach 77 for one after 20 overs the home supporters probably envisaged their team posting a target in excess of 200. But no one in Norden's middle order could play the hitting innings the situation required and Bootle's bowlers and fielders produced some outstanding cricket in the last 30 overs of their opponents' allotment.
While every member of the attack bowled well, slow left-armer Carl Hey and off-spinner Chris Cunningham were outstanding, returning combined figures of two for 59 in 17 overs, this on a ground with some small boundaries.
Hey thought he had Price caught at the wicket by Davy Smith in the 31st over when the score was 99 for three and the South African was on 60. The umpire reprieved the batsman, who was then dropped by Dixon at deep backward square leg two balls later and celebrated by whacking both the spinners for straight sixes. These, though, were isolated moments of acceleration rather than a smooth change of gear. Bunting eventually had Price caught at cover in the 42nd over and finished with three for 35.
Needing to score at 4.26 runs per over, Bootle lost the key wicket of their skipper David Snellgrove, caught by Oliver Makin in the slips off Chris Humphries, in the second over. However, Hey and Smith kept up with the run rate even as they rebuilt the innings. At 82 for one in the 18th over the visitors were threatening dominance but the loss of four prime wickets for ten runs, two of them to Hashum Malik, made Norden favourites.
Although Will Purser's rapid 25 revived Bootle's pursuit, it was still anyone's game going into the last dozen overs and the making of Tom Carr.
All of which tells the story of the match but not, at least from one perspective, the story of the day. For this was an afternoon and evening to treasure, a Sunday to deposit in the memory bank and draw out when it is drizzling on a grim January evening. And it was not just the weather or the setting which made the day special. The farms perched on the sunlit hillside towards Shawfield were attractive enough, but Norden's welcome to its visitors was warm too. The catering was generous and the bar prices reasonable, small things to notice perhaps, but put together they contribute to the impression that Norden is a credit to the Central Lancashire League.
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