Home arrow Club News arrow Senior Cricket arrow MAGNIFICENT MIDDLETON LIFT THE BURTON CUP
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Monday, 24 July 2017
How fitting that possibly the last ever Burton Cup Final for second elevens,  named after proud Middletonian Albert Burton should result in a comprehensive win for the Moonrakers. Gareth Hughes men gave a performance of outstanding quality as they completely overwhelmed the favourites Glodwick, who also had the advantage of playing on home turf, having won the toss for venue.
Over 100 Middletonians made the trip up the Abbeyhills Road to the home of Glodwick which has seen massive improvements over the years thanks to Dave Challoner and his band of loyal volunteers. It was a sun drenched day as Gareth Hughes won the toss and invited the home team to have the first knock on their own turf. 

The Glodwick pitch is severely restricted in its circumference such that one boundary can be reached within 50 yards whereas others are over 100. This plays heavily to the advantage of the home team who thus know every angle and diameter of the square and where to place the ball to maximum effect. The opening batsman for Glodwick, Brad Heap decided to go for runs and boundaries literally from the first ball as he decided to hit every ball with maximum force. He scored 27 of the first 30 runs, including five 4’s and a 6, in absolutely no time. However this can be a risky business and eventually he did sky one from experienced opening bowler Mark Buckley. The ball seemed to hang in the air for ages and fortunately it was the safe hands of James Tierney underneath it, who took a great catch. It was an important wicket for had Heap continued in the same vain then he could have inflicted serious damage.

Mark Buckley was bowling very well and deserved his wicket as did youngster Tierney who clean bowled the other opener Josh Brown for 4. At 38 for 2, Glodwick had two new batters at the crease and skipper Hughes decided to ring the bowling changes, replacing his two quickies with spinner Mohammed Shahid and right arm medium/quick Joel Harris. Mo is a popular figure around Towncroft being a top order batsman as well as being a very handy spinner. He gives the ball plenty of air and can turn it either direction.  Joel meanwhile is a medium/quick right arm seamer who creates a lot of movement with deadly accuracy and it was he who was to tear the heart out of the Glodwick middle order.

At numbers 3, 4 and 5 Glodwick have Akram Zeer, Zaheeb Mirza and Thokeer Tariq, all three of whom are key batsmen and are proven match winners. This was to be a key moment in the match and would go a long way in determining the eventual result. Joel Harris gave a superb display of medium pace bowling allowing the batsmen no room for manoeuvre as he hit the perfect line and length. In a faultless session, Joel dismissed all three batsmen for a combined total of a mere 35 runs, a perfect outcome for the Moonrakers. Two of the batsmen were plumb leg before wicket, whilst Mirza was brilliantly caught by Reece Jones. Indeed the Moonrakers fielding was of the highest quality with Hussain Shahid and Danny Royle particularly excelling with their athleticism and keeping runs to a minimum.

Skipper Hughes gave Harris a well deserved rest, replacing him with the vastly experienced Mohammed Sohail. Unfortunately for Glodwick it was no rest for them, as Sohail, off just a few paces bowled with unerring accuracy. He moved the ball in the air and off the pitch and returned the excellent figures of 9 overs, 4 maidens, 2 wickets for 13 runs, one of whom was smartly caught by wicket keeper Astley. He completely put the breaks on the Glodwick batters who had expected a weaker bowler coming on at fifth change, whereas Hughes had wisely kept his most experienced bowler to come on last. Under Burton Cup rules, five bowlers have to be used, some better than others, however there is no weak link in the Middleton bowling attack. All five offer something different and all five are deadly bowlers, Glodwick were dismayed that there was no inexperienced bowler whom they could go after.

Mo Shahid was not to be outdone and he too picked up a couple of deserved wickets, as did James Tierney putting the hosts in a perilous state at 108 - 9. Captain Richard Connolly knew this would not be enough as he was joined at the crease by his son Nathan for the final wicket with 20 overs still remaining.  Gradually they hung around for the next 13 overs taking the odd runs here and there and added some respectability to the total finishing on 139 all out off 38.2 overs.

This was well within the reach of the Middleton lads subject to there being no early collapse and  Glodwick,  with the crowd behind them, would be doing all they could to inflict this. Their hopes mainly rested on speed king and opening bowler Mohammed Hassan Ahmed and Nathan Connolly. Middleton’s opening pair was Reece Jones and Matt Lee both of whom were in fine form this year and particularly in recent weeks. They soon got to grips with the opening bowlers, by getting in line with each delivery and leaving anything wide or off target. They took no risks and played each ball on its merit, keeping everything on the deck. They offered no chances and if the odd ball clipped a pad outside the line of the wicket the seasoned umpires ignored any over zealous request for an LBW.

Gradually the pair got their eye in and punished any loose balls. Matt hit a chance-less 28 including three 4’s and a glorious 6 clean out of the ground. Reece too was equally efficient hitting 25 including four 4’s and a searing 6. His two year secondment to Canada had not hampered his amazing ability.  The pair had forged a great opening stand of over 50 leaving Glodwick desperate for a wicket. This eventually happened when Reece gave the finest of edges to their wicket keeper which few heard, particularly the Umpire who remained motionless. Honest Reece walked off the square immediately, much to the admiration of the Glodwick supporters.

Soon after Matt Lee was out in identical fashion, he too walking despite there being no signal from the umpires. An act of true sportsmanship that was acknowledged by the umpires at the end of the game, who commented that it was always a pleasure to adjudicate Middleton. This brought experienced Mo Shahid to the wicket with 16 year old James “Chippy“ Tierney. The latter despite his young age was not fazed at all by the occasion having appeared recently for Lancashire under 17’s.  He used his long reach to stretch down the wicket and easily block any delivery that was hitting the spot. He then picked up any bad ball either flicking it off his legs or driving it to the boundary with ease. He fought for a well earned 32 and with partner Mo in majestic form hitting 37 including two towering sixes, the pair brought Middleton to the verge of victory with 20 overs to spare.

 Both were eventually dismissed at the death, but by then victory was assured as the cries of “Oh Middy, Middy” rang from the crowd at the far end of the ground. The winning run led to mass celebration from the travelling supporters, as the Glodwick players came onto the pitch to sportingly congratulate Middleton.

The Cup was presented to Captain Hughes by League Chairman Nigel Tench who also gave the man of the match award deservedly to Mo Shahid. The players then embraced family, friends and supporters who had travelled to watch a great team performance before returning to the dressing room to sing the traditional victory song led by 12th man Liam Jackson. 

Philip Hamnett 

To view the scorecard of this game please click here. 

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