What a day, what a game of cricket
Cheshire Development XI v Lancashire Second XI / Academy (Friendly)
By Matt Sharp

Thursday the 6th of June provided everyone watching playing and coaching an opportunity to witness an exceptional game of cricket at Sale CC, played under blue skies the game went the full distance.

Following last season's success and a strong selection policy Cheshire were expected to compete with Lancashire 2nds/Academy but to beat them would be some achievement.

Dixon won the toss (now five in a row) and Cheshire asked Lancashire to bat. Luke Procter the prolific bowler and batter from the First XI opened with Hameed and they quickly took hold of the game with Procter in particular showing his First Class credentials with Cranmer taking the brunt of the punishment. Debutant Thayan will have better days to come but couldn't escape the brutality of Procter and he proceeded to nonchalantly take apart Riley and Davis. Haseeb, though, fell early on and Procters assault was eventually brought to end when he was bowled. After 14 overs, Lancashire were 104 for 2 and it looked as though a chase in excess of 300 was possible.

Lilley entered the fray with Toft's Rob Jones and both picked up where Procter had finished. Reid picked up both wickets following some clever bowling and the away side's total was 236 for 4. With still 9 overs to go the game looked to be slipping away from Cheshire. Dixon, though, kept his charges going and with the combination of Clarke and Reid, Lancashire were finally getting tied down. No longer could they find gaps and the fielding applied pressure, with Normanton, Cranmer, Davis, Dixon and Clarke giving the batters absolutely nothing. Lancashire crumbled loosing 4 wickets (2 run outs) including sharp work from Cranmer and a great catch again from Marsland in 4 overs. Lancashire finished on a competitive score of 275 for 9 with Reid (2 for 38) and Clarke (1 for 50) the pick of the bowling.

Following lunch, Lancashire took to the field and welcomed Normanton and Roylance to the game. Roylance took on the opening bowlers with confidence including a glorious six scored off his hip while Normanton played himself into the game, having created a stir in the premier league following his move this year to Didsbury. Normanton though did fall to Watkinson for 11 and, though Roylance looked to be set for another big score, he became Watkinson's 2nd victim having reached 32. Clarke and Foakes looked comfortable but neither could make a significant score with Clarke (18) and Foakes (6) departing quickly and Cheshire were in a whole world of trouble.

Reid came to the crease and though he had been in fine form this year his display to the end was an example to any young cricketer in how to build an innings, retain focus under pressure and to hit big or pinch hit when required. Ably supported by the ever aggressive Dixon, Cheshire started to claw their way back into the game and to give them a chance of a close finish. Dixon departed after a quick fire 38 and, with Cranmer doing the vital job of supporting the man in form, the game was now starting to swing towards Cheshire and the crowd could sense that the home side could actually win it.

Marsland, so often a key figure in the Development Squad from 2012, looked to have been taking Cheshire home to a famous victory playing really well for his 16 before being run out by a direct hit and with 3 balls to go Cheshire could taste victory, Williams hit the winning runs off a no ball and the game was up for Lancashire.

Matt Sharp was keen to emphasise the resilience of the team. "What a result! The game had gone away from us for long periods of time but the established players kept the other guys going, given the lack of team practice. I knew we had ability in abundance though also knew that Lancashire would put a tough team out. Clarke and Reid were superb with the ball and Reid's innings is as good as I have seen, everyone played their part in a famous victory. Next we play Durham at Warrington which is expected to be another tough test but I have faith in this team to deliver another excellent performance."