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Monday, 20 April 2009
Ken SkewesTowncroft was baked in Sunshine for the start of the 2009 Central Lancashire League campaign as Middleton hosted Unsworth fresh from their previous day’s victory against Haslingden. And in what must rank as one of the most memorable debuts in memory, Professional Ken Skewes announced himself to the Middleton faithful with a blistering all round display in a tight but exciting 2 wicket win for the Moonrakers.
And it could have been even better for the South Australian as in his first over he had John Wiggins dropped by new skipper Steve Davey at first slip in what was a difficult chance. Wiggins rode his luck and hit a vital half century for his side on a hard but naturally green April wicket.

In the mean time Phil Tomlinson got the break through with the score on 28 with a beautiful in swinging Yorker, which up rooted opening batsman Long’s middle stump. Success followed for Middleton 10 runs later as Skewes bowled a peach of a delivery to the dangerous Unsworth Professional Wayne Madsen, finding the South African’s outside edge and sailing into the hands of Scott Stanworth behind the stumps.
At 23 for 2, with the Professional gone, Unsworth could have buckled but Wiggins and overseas amateur Love rallied hard and played some nice shots all around the oval.

Davey switched his bowlers, bringing on Rick Valentine from the Towncroft End who was finding some big shape with the ball, but struggled with no balls early on in his spell. Dale Highton replaced Skewes and immediately got the breakthrough, Wiggins holding one out to the man from Adelaide at long off just after reaching his 50.

Love took over the mantle and together with Paul Manley the pair put on 57 for the 4th wicket.  It was all looking good for the visitors, but an inspired piece of Captaincy from Davey got the breakthrough for the home side.

Davey switched Highton to the Towncroft End and brought back Skewes who in tandem with the slow left armer skittled through the Dragon’s middle order.

Manley was caught by Davey at square leg off Highton and an over later Love went for a well played 46, bowled by Skewes from a delivery that nipped back into him.

142 for 5 became 144 for 6 when Anwar hit a Highton drifter straight into the hands of Sam Warren at mid off for a duck.

The experienced Paul Entwistle (17) gave the innings some late impetus with number 8 Maxwell (22 not out) before Skewes clean bowled him with the score on 170.

A late wag in the tail got the visitors over the 200 mark, before Skewes and Highton finished them off, eventually bowling Unsworth out for 211. Skewes finished with a fine 5 for 68 and Highton 4 for 51 in what was a good performance by the Moonrakers in the field.

With the hard work done with the ball, it was now down to the batsmen to knuckle down and see it through.

That is was duly happened at first with Scott Stanworth looking positive from the outset. Playing some nice drives and cuts, the young left hander was looking totally at ease against Dragon’s attack. Davey too was finding his stride, helped along with a number of early extras from Wiggins.

But, in what has become a custom with Middleton over the last couple of years, the introduction of spin caused trouble in the Middleton ranks.

Madsen replaced Wiggins from the Towncroft End and immediately removed Stanworth and Davey inside 2 balls to leave the home side 42 for 2.

And, like a pack of cards, the South African spun right through the Middleton middle order on his way to a fabulous 7 for 65.

Grant Jones, who was looking set, went LBW for 11, whereas Jimmy Ryan, Mark Buckley and Sam Warren all failed to trouble the scorers as the Moonraker collapsed to 80 for 6.

Meanwhile, Skewes was looking competent and playing the bowling with relative ease – delicately playing some fine late cuts and drives as he almost singled handily kept the innings going.

Razz Hussain added 30 with the Professional, before falling with the score on 110 – offering a simple caught and bowled chance to Madsen in the 36th over.

With Dale Highton’s arrival at the wicket, the game stood like this: Middleton needed 112 from 15 overs with just 3 wickets remaining. Few would have backed the Moonrakers for victory at this stage, but with the two men of the moment at the crease, anything was still possible.

And the impossible became a reality as the pair added 63 in 10 overs. Highton, who was celebrating his 21st birthday, had a day to remember as he stayed with Skewes and made his way to 28 with some excellent shots all around the park. Skewes too stepped up the gear and started to find the boundaries from what was becoming an increasingly nervous Unsworth attack.

With 5 overs to go Middleton still needed 49 and when Highton fell in the 46th, some may have thought it was lost. However, this topsy-turvy game took another twist as Skewes delivered the knockout blow.

In what turned out to be Madsen’s final over, the South Australian went full throttle – hitting 3 massive sixes off the South African. A dejected Madsen knew the game was up, this despite his fine bowling performance.

The returning Love’s final 2 overs then went for 20 as Skewes annihilated the bowling.

Alas, it was down to Rick Valentine to cream 2 four’s through extra cover from Love to send the Moonrakers home with 6 balls to spare.

Skewes finished 99 not out from just 98 deliveries in what was an epic knock in the circumstances: at one stage Middleton needed nearly 10 runs an over.

Full credit must go to the Australian and to Dale Highton for their remarkable all round performances, who, backed up with a fine team fielding display, ensured it was a winning start for 2009 for the Moonrakers.
J Wiggans   c Skewes    b Highton    54 
C Long        b Tomlinson   
W Madsen*    c Stanworth    b Skewes   
D Love        b Skewes    46 
P Manley    c Davey    b Highton   
P Entwistle        b Skewes    17 
Z Anwar    c Warren    b Highton   
S Maxwell    not out        22 
S Barlow+    c Jones    b Skewes    19 
M Munowar    c Ryan    b Highton   
S Hetherington    c Stanworth    b Skewes   
        Extras: 25w, 5nb, 2lb    32 
        Total: all out    211 
K Skewes    17.4-1-68-5         
P Tomlinson    8-0-42-1         
R Valentine    6-1-31-0         
D Highton    13-2-51-4         
R Hussain    2-0-17-0         
S Stanworth+        b Madsen    19 
S Davey*        b Madsen   
K Skewes    not out        99 
G Jones    LBW    b Madsen    11 
J Ryan    c Manley    b Madsen   
M Buckley    LBW    b Munowar   
S Warren        c & b Madsen   
R Hussain        c & b Madsen   
D Highton    c Wiggans    b Madsen    28 
R Valentine    not out        14 
P Tomlinson    did not bat         
        Extras: 5w, 3nb, 7lb    15
        Total : for 8 wickets   212 
D Love    13-2-74-0         
J Wiggans    7-0-30-0         
W Madsen    21-6-65-7         
M Munowar    7-1-19-1         
S Hetherington    2-0-17-0         
Middleton (5 points) defeated Unsworth (1 point) by 2 wickets.

- As the morning broke on a brand new season, a new look second eleven took to the field against a strong Unsworth outfit. And the game saw a welcome return to form by Daniel Royle, punishing the Unsworth bowling attack and getting some serious pace and bounce from the typical early season track.

New captain, Reece Jones, won the toss and chose to bat. But with the score at 80 for 4 with Jones, Marvin Dickinson, Stuart Fitton and Daniel Core back in the pavilion, Royle and George Walker came together and in 16 overs they doubled the total until Walker was caught behind for 26. The dangerous Pete Baxter and Fesal Hussain were then out in quick succession. Second team débutante, Gordon Neve, then came in the support Royle, and he gave the backing the established batter needed. Together they added 57 runs to the total until Neve was bowled trying to push for extra runs. Royle was finally out for 88 in the second to last over, but he had done his job. Wicketkeeper, Andrew Deakin, was out on the last ball of the innings with the score on 260 with help from 43 runs added through extras.

In reply, AS Saeed opened up in typical style, launching a flashing blade at anything wide or short. After 4 overs the score was 37 for 0. Royle was then introduced into the attack and he was too quick for Saeed beating his outside edge countless times and the pressure built on the free flowing batsman and he was cleaned up swinging at a straight one. And the screw was tightened, pressure was applied and the batsmen cracked and if it wasn't for cameos from Steve and Tom Earnshaw they might have struggled to reach within 100 of the target. Fesal Hussain and Danny Core finished with four and three wickets respectively as they cleaned the tail up, as Middleton finished comfortable winners.

Matthew Collins


R Jones*    c Arora    b Casey    36 
M Dickinson    LBW    b Saeed   
S Fitton    c Arora    b Casey   
D Core        b Saeed    16 
D Royle    LBW    b Mahmood    88 
G Walker    c Arora    b Clarkson    26 
P Baxter    c Arora    b Mahmood   
F Hussain    LBW    b Mahmood   
G Neve        b Clarkson    17 
R Fitton    not out        13 
A Deakin+        b Clarkson   
        Extras: 31w, 9nb, 3lb    43 
        Total: all out   260 
U Mahmood    14-0-91-3        
A Saeed    15-7-26-2        
D Casey    9-1-51-2        
M Earnshaw    6-0-37-0        
A Clarkson    6-0-52-3        
A Saeed        b Royle    54 
M Beaumont        b Fitton    15 
S Earnshaw*    c Deakin    b Royle    26 
A Arora+    c Jones    b Core   
A Clarkson        c & b Core   
A Gregoriou        b Hussain    19 
M Phair    c Jones    b Hussain    15 
T Earnshaw        b Hussain    32 
U Mahmood    LBW    b Hussain   
D Casey    not out       
M Earnshaw        b Core   
        Extras: 20w, 1b, 1lb    22 
        Total: all out    183 
G Walker    4-0-30-0         
R Fitton    6-0-32-1        
D Royle    8-1-37-2        
D Core    14.5-3-43-3        
F Hussain    9-0-39-4        
Middleton (5 points) defeated Unsworth (0 points) by 77 runs.

Report in conjunction withMiddleton Guardian

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