Looking back on a last over derby thriller

by | Thursday June 11th 2020 | Cricket, The Vault

Tonight our 2nd XI would have been competing as Prestwich Patriots in their T20 match against local rivals Unsworth Dragons.

There has been many a fiery battle over the years between the two clubs, particularly at their old ground on Parr Lane.

So we have flicked back the scorebook pages 60 years to find this report of a nail-biting Walkden Cup game between the two teams – which took place in May 1960.

Off the fourth ball of the very last over of this first round Walkden Cup match between Unsworth and Prestwich, Kerr clouted the four that gave Unsworth the match, and that was that. But then it is usual for the games between Unsworth and Prestwich to produce close and exciting finishes.

Prestwich batted first and it was heartening from their point of view that their batsmen returned to form. 131 from 30 overs was not so bad and thereafter, Unsworth were never in front of the clock. They maintained a suitable run-getting pace and still required six runs to win when the last over was called, but get them they did.

If one were to select a man of the match it would be Bill Taylor of Prestwich. He bowled unchanged 15 consecutive overs and took 5 for 43. If he flagged, it was perhaps in his fifth over, but as time went on, he bowled better and better, and no Unsworth batsman could take liberties with him. He certainly deserves his selection in the league side for the first round of the Rothman Cup.

Others who wrote their names large in the match were Smith and Mike Rogers of Prestwich with an opening stand of 52 and Settle, Siddall and Mitchell of Unsworth, though the latter lived a charmed life and was involved in one of the most ludicrous let-offs ever seen. Hitting the ball high into the air, he could have been caught by any one of half a dozen players. Each player gave way to the other and in the end the ball hit the deck with a resounding thud. Then he was dropped in the outfield off Neal. Still, there it is!

The Prestwich batting was more reminiscent of last season with each player getting runs after the opening stand. Smith continues to confound and later took a beautiful catch in the outfield to dispose of Frank Hardman. When Neville Heys was at the wicket, Tommy Bradshaw was quite concerned about an adjoining greenhouse, but happily his fears were unfounded.

The wicket was quite unfit for a prompt start, thanks to Saturday’s rain, and so the start was delayed for more than an hour. Thereafter, largely because of the sodden outfield, boundary shots were at a premium. Only 16 came in a total of 263 plus two six hits, one to either side. Morgan hit one, and Siddall belted one into the tennis courts.

After Prestwich had made a very respectable 131, Howard was caught at the wicket off Bill Taylor’s second ball. But then Hardman and Settle dug in, though Settle was always looking for runs as his 25 singles show. Hardman had 17 singles in a score of 19 so one can see how difficult it was to get that ball away which is a tribute to the bowlers and a condemnation of the conditions.

Only a good tonk by Siddall helped Unsworth back into the picture and at 100 for 4 they were riding high.

Siddall was finally caught in the outfield by Mike Rogers at 104 and with the score unchanged, Hamilton was bowled by Taylor. Mitchell, after his let-offs, opened up and the score crept up to 118 before Barnacott was taken at the wicket, again off the ubiquitous Taylor. Jones and Kerr were together, two overs to go, ten runs were still wanted.

Taylor came up for his 15th over. Many said he should have been taken off and given a rest, but they were all wrong. Came a single, a two and then another single, and then Jones was taken at the wicket to give Bill his fifth. So it was the last over, with Kerr facing Neal. He hit him for a two, but the next ball could so easily have seen Leach run out but Kerr made no mistake with the next and got the four that Unsworth needed.

Well there it is! One side had to win. Good luck Unsworth.