THERE are big things happening at the Gin Pit in Tyldesley.
On the basis of this top-of-the-table clash for the under-11s against Blackrod, the future of the game looks bright for the Bolton Association.
With dark clouds threatening to overshadow the tie, both sides got under way and the visitors had the upper hand early on as 11 runs were put on the board in a patient display by Oliver Furness and Lewis Rostron.
Economical bowling by Dylan Hopkins, Matthew Flatters and William Ashworth kept the opening pair contantly on their toes.
Oliver McKeown tried to get A&T going by wielding his bat and ended with seven runs against some excellent Blackrod fielding.
However, his partnership with Oakley (four) had the gloss taken off it by Charlie Stell taking Oakley’s wicket.
Braden Finch and Sibodh Sudhakar then mixed it up with defensive shots and well-taken singles and twos to take A&T up to 229.
Blackrod’s hard work paid off when they got Bryn Williams and Connor Connelly out to keep the score at 228 heading into the final three overs.
A&T needed a hero and up stepped the last pairing of Jack Nicklin and Scott Woodford.
It was Nicklin’s innings that caught the eye – a quickfire 22 which included four boundaries which were the first of the match.
However, Woodford was caught out by the Blackrod attack with Stell and Wright taking the wickets.
A&T finished on 243 with Stell (2-3) supported by William Ashworth, Matthew Flatters and Billy Wright bagging one apiece.
In reply, things were looking positive with the opening pair of Flatters and Stell putting Blackrod ahead of A&T on 213 after three overs.
Things were going swimmingly as McKeown and Oakley kept Blackrod in touch up to 224 and it was clear this was going to be a tight game up to the last ball. The visitors edged further in front to 229 by the halfway point – just a four-run lead on A&T’s total at the same stage.
Blackrod looked to be cruising needing just seven with the last pair (and three overs left).
Astute tactics by A&T coach Paul Finch saw the pendulum swing back in the hosts’ favour by holding back his best three bowlers until the death.
Will Ashworth strolled out to the crease with brave eight-year-old Daniel Hopkins. He may not have been much taller than the stumps but his bravery shone through against the best bowlers and he kept his wicket until a mix-up saw a run out.
That inevitably kicked off the celebrations and made the job even harder for Blackrod as A&T wrapped up the win. The coaches comments Paul Finch Astley and Tyldesley U11s “It was a tight game and it is always a pleasure to play against Blackrod as they play in the right spirit.
I felt we did not score enough runs but our bowlers made it difficult for them.
Bryn Williams and Bradon Finch bowled well while Sam Nicklin got a lot of runs.”
Richard Ashworth Blackrod U11s “It was a great game for all the supporters watching it.
Charlie Stell grabbed two wickets which was a highlight and he also did well with the bat along with Max Gibson-Finch.