Lowerhouse CC retain lead after victory over Haslingden

Cobus Pienaar.
Cobus Pienaar.

A 14th-successive league win means Lowerhouse retained their 14-point advantage at the top of the Lancashire League with a four-wicket win over Haslingden on Saturday.

But Burnley were unable to do their neighbours a fabour as they went down by seven wickets at Acre Bottom against the West Enders’ title rivals Ramsbottom.

Burnley’s big date on Sunday - the Worsley Cup Final at Rawtenstall - was called off before play commenced, and the sides will try again on Saturday at the Worswick Memorial Ground.

At the Neville Gee Recruitment Ground, Haslingden won the toss and chose to bat against Lowerhouse, but must have wished they hadn’t.

They were quickly in trouble at 17-4, and 54-7, before eventually being dismissed for 131 - of which opening batsman Graham Knowles made 80, before being the last man out.

South African professional Cobus Pienaar - who signed a deal to return as Lowerhouse professional next summer - was the destroyer in chief as he finished with 4-25, while Joe Hawke took 3-48.

Matt Walker also took 2-28 off seven overs.

Knowles’ stay at the crease lasted 105 balls, as he hit 11 fours and a six, and but for a 61-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Jordan Shannon (24), the West Enders would have been chasing far less than the meagre target they were set.

In reply, Lowerhouse were reduced to 13-2 as Jonny Whitehead (0) and Jon Finch (11) were dismissed early in proceedings.

But Pienaar (33) and Ben Heap (25) put on 63 for the third wicket, and although Walker fell for a single, Hawke added 23, before returning captain Charlie Cottam (24 not out) and Paddy Martin (7 not out) took the leaders over the line.

Knowles (2-33) and Shannon (2-30) were the pick of the Haslingden bowlers.

Lowerhouse go in search of a 15th-straight win when they travel to face Rishton on Sunday.

Saturday saw Burnley travel to title-chasing Ramsbottom, with both teams in fine recent form.

Burnley elected to bat first, and despite the early loss of Dan Pickup (15), eased to 89-1.

Professional Chris Holt continued his excellent recent form with another half century, and David Brown (21) laid the platform for what should have been a big score.

This all changed when Brown was adjudged lbw to home professional Daryn Smit, and then, when the score was on 106, disaster struck when Jonathan Fielding turned the game with the dismissals of Holt (57) and Chris Burton (0), while Smit took chairman Michael Brown’s wicket to leave the visitors on a precarious 106-5.

Tight bowling led to a collapse as Burnley struggled to 138 all out, with only Bharat Tripathi (17) getting double figures.

In reply the returning Graham Lalor (1-21) took the in-form Tom Parton for six as Matt Tomlinson took a good catch behind the stumps.

When Pickup (2-11 off five overs) came on to bowl, he soon took two quick wickets to leave Ramsbottom at 49-3.

Then Fielding (34 not out) and Smit (55 not out) saw the home side home with 10 overs to spare and with few alarms.

Next week sees the Worsley Cup rearranged date on Saturday at Rawtenstall, starting 12-30 p.m., and then East Lancashire visiting the My Protein Turf Moor on Sunday.

l Lowerhouse Cricket Club are delighted to announce that professional Cobus Pienaar has agreed to return to the club for the 2015 Fosters Lancashire League season.

Pienaar, who represents the Titans Franchise in South Africa, has performed exceptionally well during 2014 and was keen to return to the Neville Gee Recruitment Ground.

Managing Director Matthew Stansfield said: “I am delighted that Cobus has agreed to return in 2015.

“Finding a quality professional can be very difficult and Cobus has proven to be an excellent acquisition, performing well on the field and involving himself fully in club life with both the seniors and juniors.”

Pienaar, however, will return home to South Africa on Monday, August 25th to join the Titans in their pre-season preparations so the club will engage sub professionals for the final three league games - one of which is the trip to title rivals Ramsbottom, for what could be a critical game.