Third XI Report

 

From James Pearce


 
The third XI's late push for the title ultimately ended in disappointment but real progress was made in 2008.
We finished second, just 26 points behind champions Northern with 10 wins, five draws, two defeats, a tie and four games washed out.
No fewer than 37 players graced the 3rds this summer, of which nearly half were under-18.
Giving youth the chance to shine was one of the priorities and we certainly succeeded with the likes of Nick Blackburn, John Sprosen, Dan Kelly, Mike Christopher and Jordan Kevan all making big contributions.
It was no surprise when we lost Nick, Dan and Jonny to the seconds.
The season started well with two wins and a draw in our opening three games before the crunch home clash with old rivals Northern.
Chasing 232 was always going to be tough, but with Nick Saunders hitting 67 and Jonny Sprosen 39 the game reached a thrilling finale.
We needed one to win off the last ball with nine wickets down, however, unfortunately we grabbed a tie from the jaws of victory as Brian Viner was bowled off his toe. They were lost points we were ultimately left to rue.
Next up was the mismatch of the season against Colwyn Bay in the Embee Trophy. The Welsh club only turned up with nine players of whom eight wouldn't be allowed out after dark without their parents permission.
It was carnage with quickfire half centuries for Rick, James Harrison and Nick Moreton as we were bowled out for 346 in just 36 overs.
The visitors then limped to 86 all out as I took 4-1.
Going back to playing against men proved a shock to the system as painful draws against Birchfield Park and Wallasey were sandwiched by a heavy defeat at the hands of early pace setters Ormskirk, despite a classy knock of 79 from Nick Blackburn.
Fortunes improved in June with two comfortable wins over New Brighton in the league and cup.
The addition of new boy Sam Lister added some much needed bite to our bowling attack and he grabbed four victims to help set up victory over Bootle.
In fact we would have had a 100% record in June but for one Vinnie Abel.
Having played in the 4ths in recent years he decided at the 11th hour that he just couldn't bring himself to face his old team-mates in the inter-club game.
Vinnie swapped sides and took great delight in smashing 87 to all parts of the ground.
Chasing 230, David Hort struck an unbeaten 106 for us but the game ended in a stalemate which was of little use to either team.
July saw us bow out of the cup with a depleted team at Northern but three successive league wins put on title push back on track.
Khalid Dar hit 76 not out in the win at Liverpool and Terry Cordner hit 121 at Wavertree.
In between those games was a painful afternoon at home to a negative New Brighton side who batted a remarkable 68.2 overs to make 122-7.
We showed them how the game is supposed to be played by reaching that target in 20 overs.
At the start of August, Vinnie came to the party with 92 in the crunch return match with Northern. Having set them 208 to win, we had them 59-6 but couldn't polish them off and a great chance to close the gap at the top went begging.
Ormskirk had been the only team to beat us in the league and we avenged that in farcical conditions at their place.
Having dismissed them for 121 we were cruising at 90-3 but collapsed to 110-9. The heavy rain quickly turned into a monsoon but with a draw of no use to either side we both agreed to play to the bitter end.
It was left to myself and Jordan Kevan to see us home. I somehow managed to settle it with a six over square leg to finally prove I'm not just in the team because I can get 5 in my car.
Nick Blackburn maintained his purple patch with a maiden ton in a washed out game against Wallasey, while Nick Cockrell struck 98 and Rick a quickfire 50 in a successful run chase at New Brighton.
Going into September we knew only maximum points would do from our final 2 games.
That was achieved in a mud bath against the 4ths who we bowled out for 62 but the dream ended 24 hours later against Bootle.
Our only hope of 25pts was to bat first and get 200 which was always going to be tough on a wet wicket. Vinnie did his bit with 45 but after he departed to a very poor lbw decision we slumped to 89 all out. There were 6 ducks as the last 5 wickets wend down for just 4 runs.
 
Batting award.


There were 3 main contenders. Vinnie struck 392 runs and Matt Child hit 329 despite missing a month of the season.
But this year's winner is someone who hit three 50s and a century, in a total of 387 runs at an average of over 32. He has worked so hard to improve his game and thoroughly deserves this award, it goes to Nick Blackburn.

 


Bowling award.

Brian Viner has been in a class of his own in recent years but with him restricted to just 7 third team appearances before he departed to America there was a big hole to fill this year.
The arrival of paceman Sam Lister certainly helped and he grabbed 19 victims at a cost of just 15. Vinnie and myself were just one behind on 18 wickets apiece but this year's winner is someone who you could always rely on when you threw them the ball.
He always kept things tight and from nearly 170 overs took 22 wickets as a cost of 25. The bowling award went to Robin Brown.
 
The fielding award was a tough one. Nick Blackburn couldn't catch a cold last year but really improved this year and took some great ones.
However, this year's winner goes to someone who was consistently excellent throughout the season. Not only was he rock solid behind the stumps but he really helped to foster a great team spirit in the field. The award went to Rick Anderson.