Lancaster make stuttering start against Darwen

Iain Perrieman.
Iain Perrieman.

Lancaster opened their Northern League account with a 66-run defeat to Darwen at Lune Road on Saturday.

Following some Good Friday graft in preparing the surface, it still remained to be seen how the pitch would play.

Darwen skipper Jordan Clarke’s decision to bat first looked to pay dividends when Ammer Mirza got into his stride with some aggressive strokeplay.

Despite the loss of the visiting captain and his brother Christopher Clarke to a fired up Liam Moffat, Mirza and the left-handed John Cordingley built a solid partnership to take the score to 120-2 at 25 overs.

The hosts’ fortunes changed when skipper Ben Simm used the experienced Iain Perrieman and Iain Burstow in tandem.

Burstow extracted John Cordingley for 44 before Perrieman finally removed Mirza for an excellent 72.

From an impressive 120-2, Burstow’s removal of pro George Linde for 10 initiated a collapse that saw Darwen lose eight wickets for just 46 runs.

A pacy Perrieman finished with three for 43 in 16 overs while Burstow swept away the tail to pick up impressive figures of five for 20 in just seven overs.

With 56 overs to overhaul a target at three-an-over, chasing 167 seemed a more than achievable aim for the hosts.

Losing opener Charlie Swarbrick and new professional Michael Barry for 2 and 0 respectively immediately put Lancaster in troubled waters.

And, despite a gritty partnership between Danny Welbourne and Jamie Heywood, progress remained slow.

Slow left-armer Linde eventually broke the stand removing Heywood for 20 before going to break the back of the Lancaster middle order.

From 34-3 in 20 overs, Lancaster saw all hope of victory evaporate as they crumbled to 56-8 with Welbourne’s innings being one of those halted for 30.

Simm sought to salvage some dignity by boosting the total to three figures with a quickfire 30.

It was but a brief respite as John Cordingley removed him leg before as Lancaster were dismissed for 100 to cap off a disappointing day.

Meanwhile the second XI suffered just as much going down to a heavy 123-run loss in the reverse fixture despite an excellent six-wicket haul by Matthew Liver.