Lancaster win again as captain fantastic stars with the ball

Kieran Moffat in action for Lancaster against Darwen. Picture: Tony North
Kieran Moffat in action for Lancaster against Darwen. Picture: Tony North

Lancaster made it three from three thanks to a terrific five-wicket haul from captain Ben Simm.

The scourge of many a Northern League batsman in recent years, Simm made his first mark on the 2015 season with the ball, extracting plenty of turn and bounce from the Lune Road pitch.

Iain Perrieman takes the aerial route against Darwen. Picture: Tony North

Iain Perrieman takes the aerial route against Darwen. Picture: Tony North

A wet week had left the pitch moist to the touch but Simm decided to make first use of the surface by allowing Darwen to field.

But it was a familiar tale for the Lune road men as Darwen sub-pro Adnan Ghaus tore into the hosts’ top order leaving Lancaster 8 for 3.

First Jamie Heywood was caught behind trying to leave the ball before Lancaster sub pro Josh Tolley – standing in for Rameez Raja who has returned to Pakistan – suffered a similar fate this time shouldering arms to a straight ball leaving him plumb in front for just 2.

Charlie Swarbrick completed the trio castled second ball for nought.

Kieran Moffat and Daniel Chambers reversed the slide momentarily with Moffat branching out into the off-side and Chambers taking the aerial route. But David Bowden saw the back of Moffat for 19 before Chambers gave Ghaus his fourth flashing at a wide delivery.

At 47 for 5 it was a familiar position for Lancaster but once again the lower middle order responded.

Iain Burstow was the glue of the innings. Seeing the precarious position he went on the defensive for the cause while Iain Perrieman continued his good run of form with an important 24.

The partnership ended just shy of 50 as Perrieman holed out to hand Niall Burke his first wicket and soon after Craig Heywood joined his younger brother in the pavilion departing for just 6.

Burstow remained steadfast as Lancaster’s other batsmen played their natural game. Lee Sparks certainly did that – striking 23 from 11 balls before Ghaus came back to secure his fifth scalp.

Simm showed the hosts batted deep with another solid 20 taking the total well beyond three figures.

Burstow’s dogged effort came to an end late in the piece – his 23 from 94 balls has ensured Lancaster posted a competitive total. Chris Wade picked up the final wicket of Simm to bowl Lancaster out for 132 in the 49th over.

While bowling and fielding are Lancaster’s stronger suits, 130 was by no means a mammoth ask for Darwen.

Ammer Mirza looked to get the total down fast with Liam Moffat coming in for some harsh treatment in his opening over.

But the first of two run-outs came through Tolley as a mix up saw Sam Chatburn-Jones short of his ground.

Perrieman has been in good form with both bat and ball in hand – Mirza’s quickfire 20 offered impetus but little in the way of substance as he was caught to give the big left-arm quick his first wicket.

And Perrieman’s form shone through once more with Niall Burke bowled for 11 just as he looked set at the crease.

David Bowden stood firm at number four but wickets fell regularly to stunt the visitors’ progress. Simm replaced Perrieman at the Atherton Road End but it was Moffat who made another breakthrough trapping John Cordingley from the river end for just one.

Simm got his wickets column moving as Ghaus offered him a return catch to leave Darwen rocky at 50 for 5.

Bowden and Darwen skipper Jordan Clarke looked to steady the ship and it took a moment of brilliance to put Lancaster back in the hunt.

Bowden clipped the ball out to deep square leg and called for a tight second only for Chambers to hare in off the boundary and throw down the stumps from 45 yards out – leaving Bowden departing for 19 and Darwen 62 for 6.

Simm then got to work. Reece Davies was trapped lbw for 10 before Simm broke the back of a mini Darwen revival pinning his opposite number Clarke with an arm ball for 12.

There was hope for Darwen as long as veteran Gareth Cordingley remained but it was one of his strengths, the sweep, that brought about his undoing. Simm got the ball to bounce and in a tangle of Cordingley pad and bat the ball looped to Lee Sparks leaving Darwen needing 27 with one wicket remaining.

Simm put the game to bed the following over as a smart catch at short-leg by Swarbrick off the face of John Painter’s bat sealed victory and another 15 points for the Lune Road men.

*Lancaster second XI suffered their second successive heavy loss away at Darwen.

Asked to bat on a very wet surface, the visitors could only muster a paltry 41 all out – skipper Alex Metcalfe the only man in double figures with 21.

Nathan Baxter claimed two consolatory wickets but it was a bleak day for Lancaster as Darwen romped home by eight wickets.