Elworth arrived at Leycett’s Park Terrace ground as early leaders of the division, helped by the previous week’s weather, which saw only two matches one at Elworth and one at Knypersley started, let alone finished. Their 100% start looked under threat from the weather on this occasion as the likelihood of any play seemed remote. Driving through Scot Hay before dropping down into Leycett one felt like a plane descending through clouds.
Perseverance was rewarded however and both teams will have felt that the wait was worth it. Ten points in defeat are by no means to be sniffed at for Leycett and Elworth held on to their winning start.
A 4pm start meant the match was reduced to 22 overs a side, then Russ Ballard’s obligatory losing of the toss saw the Foxes invited to bat; it was a day for bowling first. Yet the first over, bowled by Tom Lawton must have caused a frisson of concern for the Leycett players as the Foxes raced to 10 with Ash Rogers hitting successive boundaries.
Even more would this have been so after the second over from Andrew Cooper, this went for 16 including a boundary for Alex Banks and Rogers’ first six of the day.
Things calmed down but the Foxes had still reached 31 halfway through the fourth over when Banks skied a Cooper delivery and wicket keeper Lee Jervis took the catch.
Ballard (1) was undone by the same combination three runs later, but Chris Regan and Rogers moved the score on to 63 before Rogers (35) fell to Chris Sheperd, who had replaced Cooper at the Madeley End.
Regan (23) was the unfortunate recipient of the sort of ball about which batsmen have nightmares and saw his stumps disarranged by Matt Johnson. Ryan James Sloan was smartly stumped by Jervis for two, also off Johnson’s bowling, and Ed Parrish was run out for 20.
Elworth were 111/6 and two balls later it was 113/7, Ben Holt bowled for two by Johnson who was having a good day.
The Foxes looked like they might be throwing away the promising position of earlier.
Two overs remained for James Holt and Steve Morgan to garner whatever they could.
Morgan set about the job with some energy and hit the third ball he faced for six thus setting the tone.
Fourteen came off over 21 and a further nine from the final over before Morgan, aiming for a big finish, was bowled by Johnson for 19 off the last ball, Johnson returning 4/23.
Elworth’s innings closed on 138/8 which was, so experienced observers thought, fewer than might have been hoped for but, nonetheless, was perhaps enough.
When Leycett replied, Mike Holt’s first over was as miserly as you might expect, and Chris Winter picked up the wicket of opener Rajpal Beniwal (3) in his first.
A dramatic third over saw Holt twice hit for six by David Speakman who added a four for good measure and the home side was in business at 21/1 off three.
In the next over Winter was on the receiving end of the Speakman treatment with two more sixes. The first four overs had yielded 34 and Russ Ballard introduced Morgan for Holt. Leycett’s surge was arrested and only eight came from the next three overs before Speakman got the bit between his teeth again and in the eighth over hit Winter for two more sixes.
At 66 Speakman fell caught by Ed Parrish off Morgan for 46 (including six sixes).
Three runs later Sheperd (2) was caught at the wicket by Sloan off Ben Holt.
Dan Redfern was now the key man and he stepped up with a pair of sixes one of each off the Holt brothers, James, and Ben. This may (or may not) be the first instance of a father and each of his two sons all being hit for a six in the same innings.
Redfern and Matt Johnson had added 34 and Leycett were well positioned at 103/3 with 36 required of seven overs, when Ben Holt breached Redfern’s defences, bowling him for a run-a-ball 38.
David Griffiths (1), Tom Lawton (2), Matt Johnson (14) and Lee Jervis (0) followed quickly, and five wickets had fallen for 11 runs, Jervis’ departure leaving the score 114/8.
Ash Rogers picked up the wickets of Lawton and Matt Johnson, his first wickets for the club. He went on to finish with 3/14, adding the wicket of Tom Warburton.
This last wicket left the home side requiring 13 from just two balls. Cooper hit the first for six but a single from the final ball left Elworth victors by six.
The Foxes now lead Division One by 15 points with 72. Eccleshall and Hem Heath are both on 57 and Knypersley fourth on 50.
Hem Heath visit Elworth on Saturday and, with the restrictions sufficiently lifted to allow all areas of the ground to be open, a good crowd of spectators may have the chance to enjoy an afternoon of cricket. The start is at 12.30pm.
On Sunday, Elworth lost at Alderley Edge in the Cheshire Cup.
Pegged back by tight bowling, with Alan Day returning 3/30 from his eight overs, Elworth reached just 124/9 from the 40 overs after being put in to bat on a difficult day.
Chris Regan top scored with 26. Edge got home by six wickets; Steve Morgan was the pick of the Elworth bowlers conceding just nine runs from his eight overs, unfortunately he couldn’t pick up any wickets.
There is more exciting news for Elworth, hot on the heels of former player Tom Curry’s selection for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.
Curry played for Elworth along with brother Ben right through the juniors into senior cricket and ultimately the 1st XI before rugby commitments brought cricket to a halt.
Now, 16-year-old Bethan Robinson, who played through the juniors at Elworth and has played senior men’s cricket, has made her full Lancashire Women’s 1st XI debut in the Women’s County T20 Championship against North-East Warriors, playing alongside some English Women Test stars.
She was subsequently selected to play for Lancashire against Scotland and Yorkshire, but both games were rained off.
She was selected for Lancashire last weekend against Cumbria.
Mike Price, Elworth club secretary, said: “This is a magnificent achievement for Bethan, and I am sure everybody from the club will follow her development further in 2021 and beyond.
“I think anyone who has seen Bethan play over the last two years hoped that this success would happen for her and we also hope she may be able to play again at Elworth at some point, if her county commitments allow. Bethan is still regularly helping with coaching at the club and success hasn’t changed her a bit.”
Mr Price also mentioned Jack Davies and Noah Hudson: “Congratulations also to Jack and Noah on being selected for the county U15 district teams for 2021. A great achievement for them both and I hope they do very well during 2021 and cement their place in the county squad.
“We are due to host an U15 match in 2021 at Elworth and it would be great if both lads were playing for the county on that occasion.”