How we use Cookies

Late agony

ENFIELD lost out in agonising style in what must have been one of the most entertaining - if tense - Worsley Cup semi-finals ever.

OUT... Barker is stumped by Charlie Cottam.
OUT... Barker is stumped by Charlie Cottam.

ENFIELD lost out in agonising style in what must have been one of the most entertaining - if tense - Worsley Cup semi-finals ever.

In an unbelievable finish, chasing a massive 310, Lowerhouse needed 38 off the last four overs with six wickets gone and two new batsmen at the crease.

Sixth man Chris Benbow threatened to hit the ball around the ground, cracking a six, before recently introduced bowler Rob Green clean bowled him leaving 28 needed off the last three overs in the nervy finale.

Blackburn Rovers striker Keith Barker had one last over from his 10 to take - with Neil Holmes, Alviro Petersen and Imran Abid having used up all theirs.

So Barker took the 47th - and Joe Beneduce and Ben Heap made him suffer hitting 17 off it. It meant, with two overs left, Lowerhouse needed just 11 but Green managed to keep it tight as they picked up four singles.

And so to the dramatic final over with Kaz Shazad the bowler with the big responsibility as Lowerhouse needed seven runs. His first two balls cost just one run, but then two two's followed before Beneduce smashed the penultimate ball for a four - and sealed a final spot for Lowerhouse.

It was agony for Enfield with most of the fans - home and away alike - thinking the tie had been won by the last four underdogs almost until the end.

They had amassed a staggering 310 - pro Alviro Petersen continuing his love affair with the cup after already chalking up two big scores - 149 and 99 - in the previous rounds.

The South African went bat happy again with ten sixes and ten fours in his knock of 148. It was entertaining stuff and he only fell when caught and bowled by Beneduce. "He played fantastically," admitted skipper Mas Ahmed. "We know he is quality but he did so well for us."

Petersen had shared a 131 fifth wicket stand with Andy Barker who celebrated six boundaries in his 52 before he also fell to Beneduce. Lower order batsman Green chipped in with a late 24 - with three sixes - to make it a formidable target for the Liverpool Roaders.

And it was even better for Enfield when opener Vispal Tripathi - recently called up to the England Under 17 squad - was back in the pavilion for just one, bowled by Neil Holmes.

However Jon Finch (36) and pro Peter Fulton (32) then took the score along and it was painful for Enfield as they dropped a couple of catches which might have made their day a little easier.

Then came in 37-year-old batsman Chris Bleazard who had hit an unbeaten 106 the day before. Surely he couldn't repeat the heroics.

Well, he went one better and his stunning knock of 107 was only stopped when Petersen took a good catch on the boundary off the bowling of Holmes.

The amateur had stroked the ball around with ease with ten fours and four sixes for his first home ton and he and Charlie Cottam (54) celebrated a 155-fourth wicket partnership to leave the game abosolutely wide open.

With Bleazard gone, hope was restored for Enfield and four balls later Cottam was walking back thanks to some quick thinking by wicketkeeper Adam Bracewell off the bowling of Abid. The over-rate kept moving up and down with ten needed at some points and then six a few overs later as the tension built up.

And, as it got tight, Green was then introduced and he saw off skipper Matt Hope (three) with only his second ball and it looked like Enfield would see the game out. But then Benbow hit Green for six and, once he had departed, Beneduce also celebrated a maximum score as they led the chase.

The 17 off the 47th over gave Lowerhouse a huge boost and set up the grand finale - with Enfield the unfortunate losers. "It was so tense but a fantastic game of cricket to be involved in," said Ahmed. "You can't take anything away from Chris (Bleazard) - he batted superbly."

The skipper was sick as he knew his side could have stood a decent chance against Haslingden - who beat Nelson by 18 runs - in the final.

"We know we are a good Sunday side - we can beat anyone then as we only have four or five first teamers available on a Saturday. And to have a batting pro is a big advantage in the cup as the bowlers only have ten overs."

"So we would have fancied ourselves but it wasn't to be. Now we have just got to pick ourselves up for East Lancs on Sunday. We have got to keep our heads but it will be a tough game."

Enfield have defeated defending champions East Lancs twice already this season - once in the Worsley Cup - and will be hopeful of grabbing another victory to move up the Lancashire League.

And, to make it a miserable weekend, they suffered a league loss on Saturday in one of only three games played because of the rain.

The clash at second placed Nelson was reduced to 34 overs and it looked good for Enfield when Petersen got into gear. He made 79 with 14 boundaries and a six and was ably assisted by Keith Barker who made an unbeaten 66 - with six fours and three sixes - in their 192-4.

But Nelson are a strong side and last season's pro - now an amateur - Joe Scuderi made 62 and Paul Beech hit 63 to help to pass the total with eight wickets to spare. Kamran Khan took both the wickets.

  • ENFIELD'S second XI suffered a semi-final cup exit against Burnley.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist