Bury 224-8 - Flixton 227-2
On a very good batting wicket, league leaders Flixton eased to an 8 wicket win over hosts Bury 1st XI, a win which leaves Bury with a very difficult task to ensure their Premier League status going into the last 2 weeks.
Flixton captain Steven Hammond won the toss and elected to bowl first and Bury came out of the blocks quickly, looking to complete the double over their opponents. Mohammed Jamal and Jon Wiggans opened up and took the game to the opening bowlers, Hammond and Kamran Basharat. Vice-captain Wiggans (11) was caught in the slips by Luke Perry in the sixth over, a wicket that brought Bury pro Kasun Vidura Adikari to the crease. However, the wicket failed to slow down the home team’s scoring, with an Adikari six helping Bury to 63-1 after just 9 overs.
With the bowling proving to be expensive, there were early changes made for Flixton, with spin duo Usman Tariq and Alton Beckford brought into the bowling attack within the first 10, and it was the latter who removed Jamal (36) in the 12th over at 68-2.
After Jamal’s departure, Adikari took over the role of driving the acceleration, despite the run out of Fraser Parr (4) early on in his innings. A Casmond Walters six off Tariq over long off just before drinks took Bury to 131-3 at the halfway point, and Adikari’s 50 came up two balls later from 63 balls. Walters’ quick innings was ended when Johan Wessels entered the attack, from a good diving catch by Beckford for 26.
Mukhtar Nasir played a good supporting role and looked in good touch, before he was bowled by Tariq for 16, with the spinner also quickly accounting for Mumtaz Mirza and Usama Akram, before Sam Nolan-Massey was stumped off his fourth delivery by keeper Alex Heaton off the bowling of Beckford. Captain Karl Belston stuck with the still unbeaten Adikari, who completed his maiden Bury century in the 48th over from 109 balls. He ended up with 109*, and Bury closed their innings on a competitive 224-8.
The second innings began in similar fashion to the 1st, with bat dominating ball early on. Usman Tariq and Luke Perry, with over 1000 runs between them this season, opened for the visitors and gave their side a great start, at 42-0 after the first 5 overs. With usual opener Alex Breckin missing for Bury, spinner Casmond Walters was thrown the ball to open the bowling with Mukhtar Nasir, but the latter didn’t find his rhythm in his first couple of overs, and was replaced by centurion Adikari, who in turn only bowled one over all day, which went for 15. Wiggans was brought on to replace Adikari at the Bury Church End, and he and Walters stemmed the flow of runs, but neither could find a breakthrough.
The second innings was briefly interrupted in the fourteenth over, due to an incident to umpire Ray Austin. Perry pushed Sam Nolan-Massey’s second ball into the leg side for a quick single, with Adikari having a shy at the stumps, but unfortunately he only hit the umpire’s leg. Austin was okay to continue, and the Flixton flurry also continued, with the help of 32 extras, including 25 wides from the Bury bowlers. Massey’s fourth over went for 17 runs, with Perry landing both fours and sixes, taking the league leaders to 117-0 after just 20 overs.
Mumtaz Mirza entered the Bury 1st XI attack for the first time this season, and it was he who eventually brought the breakthrough wicket of Tariq (85) in the 31st over, caught by Jamal at long off. In the next over, the returning Nasir took the wicket of Perry (74), caught by Casmond Walters, but it was too little too late for Bury, with Hammond and Wessels seeing Flixton over the line to claim a 6 point and 8 wicket win, with 13.5 overs to spare.
With Egerton later recording a tie with second-placed Woodbank, this was a win for Flixton that almost secured them the GMCL Premier League title, but leaves Bury in a very difficult position, being 9 points from safety with only 2 games remaining, going into games at home to already-relegated Glossop (2/9) and away at Prestwich (9/9) who are themselves one of the four clubs looking to claim that final position in next year’s Premier League.