Lancashire League - Limited appeal to this kind of game

Lancashire Evening Telegraph

Monday, May 25, 1998

THERE cannot be many occasions where both professionals score a century at a combined rate of better than a run a ball yet feature in a game of mind-numbing tedium.

That fate befell Ian Harvey and Joe Scuderi yesterday, however, as Ramsbottom and Colne 'fought out' a draw which left both players and fans feeling disgruntled and short-changed.

And the unequivocal message to the Lancashire League was simple: Give us back our limited-overs cricket. The introduction of draws as part of a new rules package for this season has generally not been well received.

To some extent the players must carry the can as their clubs (although not unanimously) voted them in and, to a degree, they have it within their powers to try and influence a result.

But the supporters simply have to grin and bear it, or vote with their feet like they did at Ramsbottom and miss seeing a whole afternoon of the game they loved when it was a matter of win or lose in a run chase.

Chase is not a word you would use to describe Colne's reply to a Ramsbottom total of 236 all out, despite Scuderi's unbeaten 100 which was offered on a plate with nothing at stake.

In fairness to the visitors though, that target in 48 overs was always going to be a tall order with Harvey, whose own 100 was an explosive 84-ball effort, tying up one end. They reached 179-3 thanks to Scuderi's late flurry but, with little in the pitch, a draw was the only outcome from almost immediately after tea.

That cannot be good for the game.

Scuderi could have gone in earlier to show a bit more willingness to take up the challenge but having been virtually batted out of the contest, Colne quickly settled for a share of the spoils.

That was of equally little benefit to Ramsbottom who batted too long for too many to stifle a prospect of a result. But without the option of the draw at least Colne would have had to go for the win.

``I thought they wasted a lot of overs,'' was Colne skipper Gary Laycock's assessment after Ramsbottom scored only 54 runs off their last 20 overs to undermine Harvey's flying start.

``They were set and should have got a decent total and taken a bit of a gamble which you have got to do take 12 points. You would have thought they would have backed themselves.''

Laycock said he felt for the supporters but insisted at tea that the plan had been to try and win the game first, draw second.

``It was a big target but I said don't play it different to any other game. If we do get a good start take it from there but we were always behind and the target got bigger.'' Ramsbottom captain Ian Bell, who retired hurt with a pulled hamstring, shared in the sympathy for the spectators.

But, with Scuderi in the opposition ranks, Bell felt a declaration wasn't on with that score on the board.

What wasn't open to doubt where the captains was concerned is that the rules aren't lending themselves to exciting cricket.

``I feel sorry for the spectators. One-day cricket was entertaining, it was about big hitting and chasing runs. Joe scored a hundred but they want to see a result,'' added Laycock.

Colne could possibly have forced the issue if they had snapped up Harvey when he offered a chance at 23 and again twice more before his ton. But the Australian was in unforgiving mood as caned spinner Andy Roberts for three sixes in one over and raced to his second 50 in just 27 balls in an awesome display of strokeplay against a wilting attack.

His dismissal put the brakes on and Ramsbottom limped to a position of safety rather than one of strength once they failed to take early wickets.

Andy Clarke did perish and Justin Nutter ran himself out but by then the shutters were up with Harvey going for just 19 off his first 11 overs.

When he returned with some leg spin Scuderi took full toll and Simon Read also suffered as the South Australian helped himself to a hundred with 16 fours and a six which he completed in the last over.

Source: The Lancashire Evening Telegraph

Contributed by CricInfo Management, and reproduced with permission

Date-stamped : 07 Oct1998 - 04:31