Inter-Counties o45’s Report
Pontefract 13/14th November
The throbbing but ageing heart of Lancashire o45’s Gary Wood, Steve Cummings, Steve Hollinrake and Stuart Wardle all left in one car with high hopes of a successful weekend but with the absence of their friend and talisman Glen Ragou weighing heavy on their hearts.
Joined on the Saturday by the evergreen Alan Barwise and on the Sunday by the classy Julian Wilson Lancashire had strength in depth without any stand out stars, but all the same fancied their chances against all but the strongest team .
The first match against Cheshire, similarly denuded of their stars proved the point, Barwise fought back to win 3-2, Wardle still nervous of an injured calf( the muscle not the baby cow) strolled to a languid victory 3-2, Cummings fought hard and just lost to a quality player 3-2, Wood off-form in the first match lost but Hollinrake battered the awkward Pete Astbury 3-0.
Durham and Cleveland were a different prospect altogether, brim full of current and and former age group champions and England players, Lancashire were outgunned and despite a great win by the resurgent Wood and a “couldashoulda” won from Wardle against his ginger nemesis Pete Lonsdale losing 3-2 after throwing away the second, class told and Lancashire were soundly beaten.
Barwise had to leave, so the four amigos sought inspiration in curry and lager and profound political discussion in the centre of glamorous Pontefract, woke bright eyed and enthusiastic and prepared to do battle once again, this time against hosts Yorkshire. Wilson arrived punctually, but was summarily despatched by the Yorkshire no1, Wardle’s neoprene cloked calves (the muscle again) held up and despatched his opponent with indolent ease, setting the game on a knife edge. If Wood or Hollinrake could win, then Cummings, the Rochdale rocket, could usually be relied on to upset his more renowned opponents with his tenacity and tempo.
Unfortunately the gallant twosome of Wood and Hollinrake, already weary from their first two matches could not defeat their fresher opponents, leaving Cummings playing for honour alone, and he went down fighting to a rotund opponent whose silky skills and prescient anticipation were more than enough to make up for size of waist and shortness of leg.
So once again Lancashire must fight to stay in the league rather than play for the title, but such commitment and esprit de corps should with luck see them safe for another year.