Lichfield CC, sponsored by Seager Electricals, began their competitive season in the most dramatic style with a thrilling two wicket win away at Birmingham League Premier side Himley in the Staffordshire Cup.
Himley are currently three divisions above the city side in the league structure knowing they would have to be at their best to get anything out of the game.
Lichfield welcomed New Zealand overseas star J.Bassett-Graham who arrived in the country on Thursday and new signing Gareth James, who is studying at Birmingham University, into a side which had an otherwise familiar look to last season’s line-up.
The visitors went into the game full of confidence following impressive pre season wins against higher league opposition Fordhouses and Cannock, including a stylish unbeaten hundred from Seager and a classy 83 not out from James on his debut.
Both teams were in coloured clothing on the day Lichfield won the toss and elected to field first making first use of the orange ball. The opening bowlers were impressive, with Liddiard in particular showing why he has been mentioned as a star of the future with a tidy spell restricting the Himley openers to the odd single. The usually aggressive Tranter was tied down as the scoring rate was kept to a minimum.
Wilkinson bowled his allotted nine overs straight through with some hostile fast bowling as the visitors showed they meant business.
Liddiard removed the dangerous Tranter as the home side staggered through the first ten overs.
The introduction of Stone into the attack proved a turning point as the all rounder picked up 3-23 in a fantastic spell, ripping through the Himley top order, including the wicket of ex-Worcestershire man Wedge.
Lichfield skipper Braddock was brought into the attack and bowled an outstandingly economical spell of off spin bowling, returning the remarkable figures of nine overs, four maidens, one for eight as the breaks were well and truly put on the home innings.
James replaced Braddock in the attack and picked up two wickets in as many balls in a quality spell of bowling as Himley struggled to 127 all out.
Lichfield were impressive in the field with some outstanding stops on a difficult outfield saving over 30 runs in the field which was later to prove vital to the outcome of the match.
In reply, the visitors got of to a flying start with Kiwi Bassett-Graham hitting a series of stylish boundaries as Lichfield raced to 30 before the opener was caught behind off Worcestershire academy man Harrison. This caused a mini collopase as Price, Sarginson and Seager quickly followed leaving Lichfield in trouble at 37-4.
The classy James looked comfortable against a strong Himley attack, including three players with first class experience as he steadied the ship with skipper Braddock as the pair took the total to 72, before James chipped a catch of the off spin off Ahmed for 32.
Braddock (35) stuck around and edged the score to 110 before being bowled by Ahmed who picked up 3-30.
The game was in the balance as Lichfield needed 17 with two wickets remaining, but Liddiard held his nerve to support Burton playing out Wedge’s final two overs, before Burton took the attack to the home side with a series of lusty blows in a match winning unbeaten 21 as Lichfield won a nerve wracking encounter by two wickets.
The result was undoubtably the shock of the rounds and sees Lichfield travel to another Premier League side Walsall in the next round, a team Braddock’s men beat in 20/20 cricket last season. The game takes place on May 28.
Lichfield are in action next Saturday (May 7) at home against Brewood, noon start at their Eastern Avenue Ground. All supporters are welcome the bar will be open throughout the game
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