Raja century not enough as Netherfield finish job

Rameez Raja.
Rameez Raja.

A superb century from professional Rameez Raja wasn’t enough for Lancaster away at Netherfield on Saturday.

The Pakistan international’s maiden league hundred took Lancaster well beyond 200 but 50s from Marc Brown and John Huck helped fire the hosts home.

After a comfortable start at 37 for no loss Lancaster lost their openers in quick succession.

Jamie Heywood (10) was trapped on the crease by Ryan Wilson’s first ball before Alex Metcalfe (22) was adjudged LBW after being hit on the toe by a Dieter Klein in-swinger.

Raja was joined by Charlie Swarbrick at four and while Lancaster’s middle order found the going tougher against Netherfield’s medium pacers, Raja flourished.

Swarbrick looked to have overcome a tricky start before a rush of blood saw him try and take on a length ball from Nathan Chambers only to find a back-pedalling Marc Brown at mid-off.

But Raja kept the innings together as he too began to find his fluency. Sam Moorby (20) offered good support from the other end before he too tried to lift Chambers straight to no avail at 132 for 4.

Raja accelerated as he passed 50 but Danny Welbourne became Chambers’ third wicket falling for a duck but Ben Simm (18) rotated the strike with Raja as Lancaster entered the last 10 overs. Raja cut loose through the 80s and 90s striking maximums over the short leg-side boundary and eventually bringing up a deserved ton in the 45th over.

Wickets fell quickly towards the end of the innings. Simm was confounded by a Klein slower ball before Raja finally fell for 109 – caught at deep cover by Tom Williamson off Chambers at 208 for 6.

Iain Burstow became Chambers’ fifth as an attempted swipe went skywards while Dan Chambers and Liam Moffat were run out chasing quick runs. A total of 232 was a solid one.

And it looked an even better picture for Lancaster when Liam Moffat squeezed a nip-backer through the defences of the dangerous Rick Potter in just the third over – 6 for 1.

With the visitors struggling to find the breakthrough Lancaster’s patience paid off. Simm’s leg stump line forced Ben Barrow into top edging a sweep leaving Raja at deep backward square to complete the catch – 86 for 2.

Dieter Klein was the next to fall to Simm’s leg line soon after. After the ball got caught in tangle after a Klein sweep the ball was dragged back onto his stumps leaving Netherfield precarious at 93 for 3.

Marc Brown then passed his half-century and rebuilt with the powerful John Huck.

But Simm had his say once more as the sweep brought its third victim. Brown played across the line once too often leaving umpire Albert D’Leny no choice but to lift his finger at 129 for 4.

With over 100 still required, Lancaster were in the box seat but Huck had other ideas as he muscled the ball around Parkside Road and found support from former Lancaster man Joe Atkinson at six.

Liam Moffat returned but couldn’t stop the rot as Atkinson (33) began to play some shots of his own. Atkinson was pinned LBW late on but Huck continued unabated passing 50 with ease.

Tom Williamson brought the game to a close, striking Iain Burstow over long-on for six with Huck finishing 79 not out from just 53 balls.