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Neil Humphries of Audlem Cricket Club

Visit to Cholmondely

Audlem 1's made the short journey to the picturesque ground of local rivals Cholmondeley looking to bounce back from the previous weeks disappointing defeat to Knutsford.

Cholmondeley is widely regarded as having one of the best batting strips in the league so after struggling on some early season green tops the Audlem batsmen were desperate to make first use of the pristine looking track. Audlem opening batsman Andy Rothwell is often quoted upon cheap dismissals throughout the season that 'it's the pitch's fault, I need a decent track like they have at Cholmondeley, if I batted there every week I'd score hundreds of runs'. Well, this was his chance to prove it as the Cholmondeley skipper Goldstein, resplendent in his clubs blazer, won the toss and invited Audlem to bat. Murmurings of excitement could be heard amongst the Audlem elite, there was talk of 500 plus on this 'absolute road'. It didn't take long from the Audlem batsmen to remember that, well, they are just not very good at batting!

Skipper Butler confidently sliced the first ball of the innings through backward point to get the innings underway. The fact this well struck ball only went for two on this large and surprisingly slow outfield shocked opening partner Rothwell who was already looking rather red! Butler's confident start soon led to Audlem's first dismissal, looking to repeat his early shot he nicked one through to keeper Maginess and Audlem were in a familiar position, 10-1.

Rothwell however, on his favoured Cholmondeley pitch, had other ideas as he hit several of his trademark front foot drives to hurry the score on to 29. Two dropped chances by Briscoe and skipper Goldstein-that really should have been taken- gave this run shy Audlem batting unit new hope that maybe this really was their day........unsurprisingly for those that follow Audlem's exploits, it wasn't to be.
Firstly, Rothwell 'double hit' a full toss to short fine leg, at least he couldn't blame the pitch this time. 29-2 quickly became 48-4 as first Hine who showed real glimpses of form (again) and the new signing Naveed fell to the probing line and length of Cholmondeley's star all rounder Ben Pearce. A familiar story was starting to unwind.

Youngster Ronnie Farnell was joined at the crease by the experienced, calm presence of Antique Hashmi and together they built Audlem's highest partnership of the innings, an impressive 47. Most of the runs coming from the bat of Farnell who dispatched spinner Carlisle into the castle grounds on several occasions despite 'only having one shot'. Carlisle soon got his revenge as Farnell attempted to hit him into the castle itself only to completely miss the ball and see his stumps obliterated. Farnell went for a well made 34 and so it began again, Matthews, Mcilveen and Azam all went cheaply and quickly, the former two both trying to clear the boundary despite there still being the best part of 20 overs to bat.

Upon their return to their teammates both batsman were adamant they 'they played the right shot' and 'the ball was there to be hit'. Sadly for Audlem neither hit it very far!Audlem were now reeling at 110-8 and the earlier predicted 500 seemed slightly out of sight.Youngster Ewan Farnell now joined Antique and unlike several of his more experienced teammates showed some real grit and resolve to move Audlem's score slowly but surely past 125. When Ewan (Reg to everyone that knows him) was finally caught brilliantly at slip of the bowling of Carlisle the innings came to a quick end. Swift 'I smashed the cover of it' was given out LBW third ball and the innings closed on a moderate 129 all out.

Atiq yet again was left stranded on 29 not out. For Cholmondeley the stand out performers were Pearce with 3-34 and Carlisle with 4-27. Some missed catches otherwise spoilt an excellent bowling display from the home team who must have been extremely confident going into the second innings.Cholmondeley did indeed get off to a confident start, one of their players packed his kit and left the ground, certain he wouldn't be needed in the run chase.....And folks, it looked like he was going to be proved correct as Cholmondeley batted the way Audlem can't: slowly, technically correct and dispatching the odd loose ball to the boundary. Mcilveen and Naveed, who had dominated Audlems early season bowling exploits, tried in vain to wobble this solid batting line up, and despite an early success each, Cholmondeley were cruising to victory at 80 odd for 3. Some more of the home team players could be seen packing up their kit such was the confidence that this run chase would soon be completed.

However this is Audlem and nothing is ever straightforward....Simon Swift whose bowling this season had been limited to one spell in the Sunday side and Reg Farnell who had had 7 overs only were about to change things. It has to be said they were helped by an injury to the imperious Pearce who looked to pull a hamstring chasing another quick single. First Ogilvy was bowled shouldering arms to one that jagged back extravagantly, Griffiths was expertly caught at slip by Rothwell, Jones trapped in front LBW and Maginess bowled, all by the fired up Swift who was getting some exaggerated movement off the pitch that the opening pair hadn't found. At the other end, young Farnell was bowling not only with his normal pace but also with accuracy which is sometimes lacking. He got his reward for an excellent spell by picking up the big wicket of Briscoe, caught brilliant by Matthews at point (we won't mention his earlier drop).

With Pearce struggling to move and Cholmondeley suddenly 7 down for 97 this game had turned on its head in a matter of minutes.When the injured Pearce, who had decided he needed to win this game on his own, hit a return catch to the fired up Swift for him to collect his 5th wicket Audlem were favourites for the first time all day. Pearce has made an excellent 49 and rarely looked in trouble until injury struck.It was now 105 for 8, kit had been retrieved from cars, phone calls had been made to get their number 11 back at the ground, this really was game on.

Experienced hands Baker and skipper Goldstein looked to steady the ship. They took everything Farnell and Swift could throw at them. Skipper Butler, much to the dismay of Swift, decided it was time for a change with the home side only needing 14 to win and two wickets remaining. He recalled both opening bowlers and the decision soon paid off as with the ball hooping round calls in the cool evening air as first Bates, then Goldstein were trapped plumb in front, one each to the bowlers and Audlem had grabbed the most unlikely of victories.

Despite some ugly scenes toward the end of the game, probably due to mounting tension, this was a wonderful game of cricket played by two good teams. Despite being on the losing side Pearce was the days standout player with 3 wickets and 49 runs. However it was the heroics of Swift that won Audlem the game and he deservedly took the Man of the Match honours. Audlem's 25 points took them back towards the top of the division with a home game to Aston to look forward to next week.

For anyone interested in supporting their local team, it's a 1pm start and refreshments are available. We can't guarantee good cricket but we can promise drama!