Bertus knock the highlight of clash
MACCLESFIELD CC 1XI hosted star-studded Chester Boughton Hall CC on Saturday in an important ECB Premier Division match recently that saw glorious sunshine for the start of the game – but persistent rain and gloomy conditions at its conclusion.
Macc skipper Rob Porter lost an important toss and it was no surprise when visiting captain Lee Dixon asked Macclesfield to bat first on a soft deck that would aid seam bowling.
The visitors opened up with their Cheshire strike partnership of Owen and Davis bowling with good pace and using the conditions well as they removed Birchall, Marsden and Porter early doors.
Throughout this early loss of wickets, Macc’s overseas player Nick Bertus stood strong as he started to compile what would be a top class innings. James Cross stood firm for a while as did Fin McCance, but when the later fell, Macc found themselves in the perilous position of 90-5 and in danger of collapsing for a low total in the face of a quality attack.
This brought Ciaran Sanders to the crease on debut and together with Bertus he injected much needed impetus into the innings as they stood tall to the Chester barrage.
Together they compiled a high quality partnership of 90, graced with powerful hitting, smart running and intelligent cricket shots as they slowly got Macclesfield into a comfortable position.
Sanders was eventually bowled for a superb 41, which in the circumstances was worth a lot more runs but left Bertus batting with the tail as he tried to get a defendable target for the home side, as well get the century that he so richly deserved.
Smith and Moores came and went as they put together useful stands with Bertus as Macc’s Australian passed his ton, but it was the ninth wicket partnership with Barney Cutbill that swung mementun for Macclesfield as loose balls disappeared to the boundary and runs came at a rapid rate.
Macc finished their innings with a total of 239-8 from 55 overs with Cutbill not out 18 and Nick Bertus finishing on 121 not out completed with a huge six into the hospital from the final ball of the innings.
Bertus’s innings was a mix of watchful shots, intelligent cricket and brute power as he restrained his natural aggressive play to build a truly brilliant innings for his side when they needed him most at 15-1 and then 60-4 against a quality bowling attack.
As the two sides left the field for tea, Macclesfield felt they were on top as Chester sensed a missed opportunity of chasing a low score from their early dominance.
Owen was the pick of the Chester attack claiming five wickets.
It should also be mentioned that it took Chester almost four hours to bowl their 55 overs, something that would come back to haunt them as the evening drew in later at the end of the game.
After a good tea, Macc knew they would have to bowl and field well to restrict the powerful Chester batting line up.
That man Bertus took a smart catch at second slip to remove Money off the bowling of Birchall to give Macclesfield the perfect start, but that brought together the Cheshire players Goodwin and Moore who started to rebuild and play some wonderful cricket shots.
However, when ex-Lancs player Goodwin was bowled by Cutbill, Macc sensed a chance and when the same bowler removed Cheshire skipper Lee Dixon LBW the home side looked to grab their opportunity.
Moore compiled an excellent fifty but soon after was bowled by left arm spinner Sully Raja and again Macc were on top.
Unfortunately, the rain then started to fall, and the large crowd dispersed as the players had to leave the field and the gloom engulfed the ground.
Chester’s former Glamorgan player Will Owen was at the crease and the visitors were favourites as the players returned to the ground in the semi dark needing 50 from 8 overs.
The ball was like a bar of soap making bowling very difficult and fielding even tougher in the dark.
Unfortunately, after such a wonderful cricket match, the umpires decided that it was too dark for the players to continue just after 8pm and the game finished in a draw as Chester’s innings closed at 210-5.
A fantastic game of cricket was played in a “no quarter asked or given” mentality but finished with Macc gaining a points advantage of 12-10 over their visitors.
The game will ultimately be remembered though for a simply wonderful innings from Macc’s Bertus – it was an innings that should be used as a blueprint for how an overseas player should bat to firstly get his side out of trouble, but then later play in a way that his natural talent should allow as he hit the ball to all parts to enable Macc to post a defendable total.
Unfortunately Macclesfield 2XI and 3XI both lost against Chester B.H CC 2XI and Chelford 2XI respectively, but there were positive performances from players from both Macc sides to suggest the future bodes well. Special mention for Otis Palmes (14) on 2XI debut who took 4 wickets, and Miles Bradshaw (13) with 3 wickets for the 3XI as they did their utmost to help their sides try to win.
At the other end of the scale, Dave Cowen (fresh from 50th birthday celebrations) smashed the ball to all parts for a brutal 50 not out for the 2XI.
A club spokesman said: “Thank you to The New Shalimar Restaurant Macclesfield for sponsoring the match and their on-going support of Macclesfield cricket.”