What day is it and where are we ???
Heading towards September and the final countdown
I completed my last Blog just prior to attending the Ashes Test at EOT on the Saturday at the beginning of August. Here I am home alone exactly three weeks later after much travelling in support of many of our county age group teams – but mainly in support of our two grandchildren. The family minus me are up at Greenmount – the two Mrs Heatons are watching, Philip and Thomas Heaton are playing in the 1st team match together v Astley Bridge and Sophie is scoring. I am sat sitting at my computer scribing this blog in a serious attempt to forget the immense pain I am in due to a bit of an attack of gout. Well in fact it is probably all my fault. My diet over the past three weeks has been shocking and the multitude of hours I have spent pressing the accelerator in my car has not helped.
What on earth has been happening? Well I intend to bore you.
It all began on my Birthday – Monday August 5th (71 of them) when the Heaton family journeyed down to Worcester to our base camp for the Under 15 Girls County Festival at Malvern College. This had to be a two car adventure. The White House in Worcester was our chosen place with Malvern College a 25 minute journey away. The logistics of this exercise were completed without problem and Sophie was deposited at the College. Mind you a storm of almost biblical proportions was raging at the time. A recce of the area around the White House revealed a Tesco Express, two Wetherspoons and a Slug and Lettuce. Packing my car with the necessaries was quite an event on each of the three days of this Festival. You will notice “my car” !!! The Lancashire team for this Festival was the Development team but the opponents were full county teams. So two defeats to Wales and Hampshire, one narrow and one not so narrow, either side of an excellent victory over Somerset made this a worthwhile exercise. Thanks to coaches Dan and Megan for all the hard work and well done girls – you made us feel proud of you. Jenny Laycock and Tony Potter staged appearances in their ECB gear and looked quite impressive !!! I have the pictures to prove it but not for now.
Quite a setting just made for cricket
Whilst down in Worcester Philip got the news that Thomas had been selected for the Mount’s 1st XI at the weekend to play Westhoughton. He has opened in the 2nd Team since last August and deserved this opportunity. This debut, and first game with Dad, was in our rest period between Festivals and resulted in a win. The ladies had been busy washing etc and repacking as we then set off bright and early on the Sunday for the delights of West Sussex.
A journey via the M60 / M62 / M6 / M6 Toll / M42 / M40 / M25 / M23 and then M21 took us to our second base camp suggested by Lenny Henry in Crawley. Tom was deposited at Ardingly College and handed over to coach Nathan Wood and manager Paul McGuffog for the week. Please note from now on I will refer to ‘Ardinglie’ coz that’s how the locals pronounced it. Travelling each day from Crawley in “MY CAR” we had a week long fest of cricket in a superb setting with a proper tuck shop much used by parents. We had Pimms’oclock, enhanced Slushballs, serious stress on occasions, a birthday cake, much walking with entertainment provided by a great many. Nathan and Paul were great all week and at a little getaway in a local hostelry on the Thursday evening proved they could be the future Ant and Dec of the LCB.
Nathan and Paul - Hard at work.
There were eight teams in this Festival jointly organised by Sport Arabia and Sussex CCC. G Force Dubai and Abu Dhabi made the “international” contribution. Three wins in three days against the Isle of Wight, Sussex Skorpionz and G Force Dubai took us into a Semi-Final on the Thursday.
Monday 12 August v ISLE OF WIGHT
LANCASHIRE 310 for 7 (Southworth 76 Harrison 51 Heaton 46 Lea 42)
ISLE OF WIGHT 182 (Harrison 4-35 Noone 3-27)
Lancashire won by 128 runs
Tuesday 13 August v SUSSEX SCORPIONZ
LANCASHIRE 263 for 6 (Southworth 68 Lea 43 Harrison 39)
SUSSEX SCORPIONZ 204
Lancashire won by 59 runs
Wednesday 14 August v DUBAI G FORCE
LANCASHIRE 255 for 5 (Christie 87 Heaton 70)
DUBAI G FORCE 177 for 9
Lancashire won by 78 runs
Tom put the fear of gods in us on the Monday when he stopped a rasper with his right hand. His thumb looked grim and we faced an end to the Festival and maybe further. Rapid application of ice, pain killers and a rest on Tuesday got him back in action.
Three games were played each day at the College with a third at the Sussex CCC ground at Blackstone. This is where the Sussex team was based. Sadly for them a defeat by Dorset on Day 3 meant they would not be in the Semi-Finals. Our opponent was to be Dorset. Little did they know, or anyone else, what was in store.
In fact although Danny Southworth made a quick 81 we slipped to 133 for 6 when Ben Harrison joined Zac Christie at the wicket. Now in terms of growth Ben has probably completed most of his for now. We knew he could hit the ball long and hard but even we had no idea what was then going to happen. One hour later the Dorset challenge was over. These are the basic facts.
Thursday 15 August v DORSET (Semi-Final)
LANCASHIRE 344 for 8 (Harrison 133 Southworth 81 Sutton 34)
DORSET 149 (Lang 3-31)
Lancashire won by 245 runs
Ben’s 133 came in 57 balls and included 11 fours and 12 sixes. His second 50 came in just 16 balls. This was hitting extraordinaire. In all my years with LSCA I can honestly say I have never seen anything to come even close to that knock. Well done Ben.
Nathan looks the right size for a 13 year old
The Final was to be against Buckinghamshire. They had made quite an impression so far. In any event the terrible two of Danny and Big Ben did it again. In a reduced 30 over match due to impending rain Dan hit 105 off 92 balls and Big Ben managed just 86 off 38 balls. Hunts in reply set off like a train but good bowling and fielding eventually proved successful. Lancashire had won the Sport Arabia shield.
Friday 16 August v BUCKINGHAMSHIRE (Final)
LANCASHIRE 243 for 4 (Southworth 105 Harrison 86)
Lancashire won by 131 runs
Captain Tom with his team and the shield.
Congratulations to everybody involved for a great week. I was most impressed with Nathan. I reminded him of the time I was Team Manager for the Under 14 team he was captain of at Taunton School many moons ago. Gary Neville was a team mate on that occasion and Philip Neville was there plus the rest of the Neville family in support. There is no doubt we were the largest set of supporters at Ardinglie – both in numbers and possibly girth as well. Thanks to everyone for the memories. My good lady helped to contribute to those memories with her pimms cocktail expertise and abilities at fending off the hordes of wasps afflicting us at both Malvern and Ardinglie.
We will gloss over the return journey from Sussex. Best to say that the fact we had won the Festival helped as return timings averaged around eight hours with a top score of 11 and a half. Well done the M25.
Over those two weeks away we had other very good news. Whilst at Malvern we got the excellent news that the Under 12 Boys had won the Kings College Festival at Taunton. This included defeating Surrey on Day One. Victories over Surrey rank alongside those over Yorkshire. In similar vein whilst at Ardinglie the Under 13 team were successful as well at their Taunton Festival. To make things even better they had also whacked the Brown Caps. My last season i/c was getting better and better – well not quite.
The Under 15 Boys had made it through to the Quarter Finals of the Yorkshire Bank Cup. The first attempt to play this fell afoul of the weather whilst I was sunning it in Sussex. The second date of Sunday 18th was OK for me to lend my support. This meant 176 miles to Usk in Welsh Wales and 176 back adding to the damage to my accelerator foot. The result did not help either as we joined Yorkshire in the list of counties not at the Finals.
At the end of our Ardinglie week we became aware of the fact that the U15 Girls Development team would be in the National Finals of the ECB Development Group. This competition is like the second division of the girls teams and contains full county teams. Indeed the email arrived last weekend confirming the venue as Moseley CC, Solihull and the dates as 22 / 23 August. This meant getting in touch with Lenny Henry again and sorting a hotel. We ended up going down with Sophie on Wednesday with the rest of the family following early on Thursday.
The full county team was also involved in their National Finals on the same days down in Maidenhead and were not able to select either Emma or Nalisha. This provided quite a selection issue in putting two teams out at the same time in the same age group in National Finals. Down in Solihull it emerged we would be playing Huntingdonshire and that Sophie would be captain. We batted first scoring a total of 165. Sophie was batting OK until she seriously misjudged a second run. We bowled well keeping Hunts well below the required rate until their master blaster came to the wicket. She did to us what Ben Harrison had done down in Sussex.
Cornwall beat Northants easily in the other Semi. We completed a comfortable win over Northants to secure third place – 215 for 6 v 125 all out. Lucy bagged a fifty. In the Final Hunts were in trouble at 27 for 4 but recovered to make 205 with one girl scoring a ton. Their big hitter of the semi was out first ball. Cornwall had batted well in the Semi but did not get going at all. The afternoon saw one of the Hunts girls make a brilliant diving stop which ended with her being taken to hospital with a broken collar bone. We had a paramedic and ambulance on the ground for a while. We all wish the young girl well. I saw the incident and she really did make a brave and successful dive to save a four.
As we all gathered around for the presentation news came through that the Under 15 team at Maidenhead had lost in their Final to Middlesex by just one wicket. They had won the National 20/20 U15 Competition earlier in the week but missed out again in the National Performance Competition for the second year on the run. It’s a great game – cricket.
Last week saw the final age group go down to Taunton. The Under 11’s did not win the Festival but they helped set up the fact that at Taunton in 2013 we stuffed Surrey three out of three. John Hood, who is a long-time admirer of the Brown Caps was ecstatic.
The Under 14 Boys completed a week in Scarborough on Friday losing to Yorkshire on the Final day. That age group’s Development team had been down to Taunton at the end of August and fared well against more experienced teams. Matches v Surrey were not on the agenda.
Well as they say the end is nigh.
The Under 11 Bob Hurst County District Final will be at Newton le Willows on Tuesday 27th starting at 11.00am. Bury and Wigan will be the finalists. I will need to go as I have the trophy and medals at Chez Heaton. We hope to have the Hacking Cup Final (U13) between Bury and Ribble Valley on Monday September 2nd at Leigh.
The Under 13 ESCA Northern Counties Final between Lancashire and Cheshire will be on Sunday September 1st at Fleetwood Hesketh. I was delighted that six counties agreed to set up this competition after the ECB dropped their competition at this age group.
There is a special little treat for us the day after. Ken Lake, Secretary of English Schools for many, many years, when he heard of my impending retirement decided to invite the missus and me to the annual ESCA v MCC Schools at Lords’ on Monday September 2nd. It looks likely we will spend the match in the company of David English in his box and enjoy dinner in the Long Room in the evening. Knowing how generous David can be with liquid refreshment I suspect I will need to get in touch with Lenny Henry again.
Two days after Lords’ we will have our Annual Presentation Evening in the Point. The week ahead will be a busy one as there is much to do.
After that event there will be the LSCA AGM.
And after that ????
Elsewhere on the website is a little article which is seeking to attract volunteers to continue the traditions of Lancashire Schools. Almost 49 years ago Alan Marshall asked me if I would like to help him with the Prestwich, Radcliffe and Whitefield Town Team. A couple of years later he asked me if I would like to go on the LSCA Executive in his place. “All it means is just three meetings a year” – he said. I said “Yes”.
Go on – think about it.
Just got the news that the Mount have won and the good lady is on the way to transport me up to the Club. My gout is under attack from Neproxen ably supported by Tesco’s version of Co-codamol and is improving slowly.
The Shakers were two up at Burton this afternoon and have been and gone and blown it finishing 2-2.
Could be a long winter.