WORSLEY Cup class act Michael Brown once again took top billing as he played a quite magnificent innings to steer holders Burnley into the last four of the competition as they beat Todmorden.
The Turf Moor chairman and former Middlesex, Hampshire and Surrey opener is strictly limited on the games he plays nowadays and generally saves himself for the Worsley Cup.
His brilliant innings led Burnley, whose league form has been little short of a disaster so far this season, to victory in last year's final and the 34-year-old was at his magical best once again at a sultry Centre Vale on Saturday.
Brown makes the game look easy when he is in top form but when he walked to the crease Burnley were wobbling on 103-4 chasing Todmordens 224-8 having just lost Josh Whitehead and Chris Holt to successive Paul Senior deliveries.
Brown avoided the hat-trick ball and then went on the build the most magnificent of match-winning innings.
He oozed class and when he took the attack to Todmorden professional Michael Neser it was a joy to watch.
Queensland fast bowler Neser had built a real head of steam but Brown went onto the attack with two blistering fours before rocking back and hooking the inevitable – and very quick – bouncer into the pavilion.
It was a shot that brought gasps of admiration from the large crowd and Tod fielders, who were starting to sense that their Worsley Cup dream was wilting.
In the end, Brown finished on 74 not out as Burnley eased home by three wickets with two overs to spare. Earlier Kristian Garland had shone for Todmorden with a splendid innings of his own as he made 79, while Neser was about to cut loose when he was well caught by Chris Burton off Whitehead for 24.
Garland’s innings was hugely impressive – even though he finished the day at hospital after hitting his head while fielding – while Zashan Shoukhat smashed 28 as Tod took the final three overs for 42 to get up to 224 and seemingly into pole position.
But they reckoned without Brown.
Nelson were also outstanding again as they beat Haslingden by six wickets at Seedhill.
Jack Taylor made 28 and Brenton Parchment 27 as Haslingden were bowled out for 156.
Nelson pro Ryan Canning is a man getting into top form, and he made a high class 49 not out as the Seedhillites booked their place in the last four.
Rawtenstall celebrated a fine win over Ramsbottom at Acre Bottom with professional Brett Pelser again the big performer.
The South African made 86 and Sam Kershaw (46) also contributed as Rawtenstall posted 220-6 with Daryn Smit the pick of the bowlers with three wickets.
There was a rain delay before the Ramsbottom reply could begin and after the loss for five of Jamie Pilling – who had been to hospital after colliding with a team-mate while fielding – the hosts seemed to be getting on top.
Tom Parton made 28 and Smit fell for a single leaving Callum Kay to lead the victory bid.
At 126-6 it looked like game over but Kay (77) and Jonny Dack (31) took thek to 180-6 before they collapsed to 194 all out with Keith Roscoe finishing with five wickets.
Lowerhouse beat East Lancashire by three wickets at the Neville Gee Recruitment Ground.
East Lancs recovered from 29-3 to be 101-3 with almost 20 overs left. But they struggled to 166 all out with Jack Edgar and Ben Heap both claiming three wickets and John Turner scoring with 44.
Lowerhouse were on the ropes at 76-6 but Chris Bleazard made 44 not out and Declan Bailey 38 as they got home by three wickets.