AN incredible knock of 182 off just 128 balls by skipper Michael Walling saw Garstang demolish Longridge in this derby at Chipping Road.
Walling had no hesitation upon winning the toss in opting to bat first – and he would lead the way with the bat in some style.
Garstang raced out of the traps with boundaries flowing. After just nine overs, five men had been summoned to the boundary protection area with 71 runs on the board.
Walling duly reached an impressive 50, before losing fellow opener Michael Wellings for 31 off 32 balls, leaving the visitors 95-1. Walling continued to be dominant and found the boundary at ease. Together with Allan Cook, the pair raced along adding a partnership of 110 with Walling reaching an impressive century. Cook perished for a well-made 43 from 52 balls.
Still, despite the heat, Walling kept batting and scoring ridiculously fast. He hammered his way to 150 and set his sights on beating his career best of 200 not out. His partnership with brother Ian was worth 66 with Ian posting just 14 before he was snaffled at 271-3.
Running out of steam, it proved to be a fence too far for Michael as he was eventually caught, much to the relief of the fielding side. Walling’s damage though was done as he posted an incredible knock of 182 from just 128 balls.
The remarkable innings comprised 17 fours and 10 sixes. He left the field slowly and took the much deserved applause from the watching crowd.
Late cameos from Gary Fawcett, (14) and Craig Bevan, (12 not out) helped Garstang a very prolific 318-6. For Longridge Dan Wilkinson did manage to collect 4-51 with Dharmesh Patel, (1-39) and John Simpson, (1-58) picking up the wickets to fall.
Garstang could have been forgiven for thinking the game was won, but with small boundaries and a good track, they had to ensure they completed the victory. Opener Paul Holden cashed in on a lacklustre start from Garstang with the sun-bathing perhaps affecting the bowlers’ form.
A shooter from Mark Hitchen though, saw the end of Holden, (20) before Danny Wilkinson Junior took over Holden’s positivity. He smashed 38 off just 25 balls before Longridge reached drinks at 95-1 off 15.
The drinks brought the wickets as 13-year-old Jake Smith teased Wilkinson into picking out Fawcett at long-off. Opener John Wilkinson had made 29 before Smith accounted from him too, leaving the home side stuck at 98-3.
Smith was enjoying spinner friendly conditions and soon ousted James Fairclough, (11) and Anthony Procter, (2) to leave them 109-5. With Smith’s tail up, Neil Holden and Andy Simpson had to negotiate the spin and re-build the innings. They did so and looked to enjoy some time at the crease. They added 85 before Smith had his fifth wicket when Simpson was caught one-handed by a leaping Ian Walling for 37 off 47 balls.
Scenting to roll over the tail, Garstang turned back to opening bowler Ian Walling, (one-51) who removed Ian Simpson with another spectacular catch, this time from Tyler Ibbotson. Patel’s innings was short and sweet, as, despite hitting his first two balls for four, Smith bowled him third ball and when Kyle Helm was run out by Ibbotson, Longridge were 221-9.
Looking for the full 12-point win, Garstang had to get a wicket from Smith in the final over. Fortunately they did, as Holden’s resistance was ended for 56 off 60 balls. It left Smith and the Garstang team jubilant and victorious by 94 runs. Smith finished with excellent figures of 15.4-1-62-7 as Garstang registered a sixth consecutive win ahead of next week’s mouth-watering tie against leaders Great Eccleston.
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