Cricket - Kendal shaded in low-scoring Readers final

CUP specialists Kendal were squeezed out of picking another trophy when Leyland beat them by three runs in the final of the NPL Division 1 Readers Cup final on Sunday.

But Chris Miller’s men contributed hugely to a thrilling low-scoring encounter before a large crowd on on Leyland’s Fox Lane ground.

Opting to bat on a damp seamer friendly pitch, Leyland were 21-2 and Miller, who took 7 for 23 in his sides' league victory over Leyland, had an instant impact when he entered the attack, removing David Fisher and Karl Cross in his first over.

Miller proceeded to bowl an inspirational spell of classical right arm off spin in which he also picked up the wicket of Chris Parkinson, to finish with figures of 3 for 12 from 8 overs.

Leyland lost wickets throughout their innings and were unable to build significant partnerships in the face of unerring Kendal bowling.

Leyland professional Brett Pelser battled hard for his 33 which included a huge six off his opposite number Jamie How's first delivery, but when he was removed, cleaned bowled with the delivery of the day from the often unheralded Nick Lewthwaite, the scoreboard read 64 for 7.

Leyland's lower order battled hard to post a respectable total. Youngster Liam Hurt making only his second appearance in the first XI made 13 before he was spectacularly caught and bowled by How to end the Leyland innings for 96 in 36.2 overs.

Kendal excelled in the field and rarely bowled a bad ball. Miller led by example and was the pick of the bowlers, but he was ably supported by the seamers Parkin (2 for 18), White (1 for 14) and Lewthwaite (2 for 32). Wicketkeeper Gary Baker had a faultless performance behind the stumps.

In order to defend such a low total the Leyland side knew that they had to get early breakthroughs after tea at the start of the Kendal innings. They managed to achieve that when professional Pelser had Cumberland batsman Jonathan Miles adjuged LBW for 7 and Baker was bowled dragging a wide delivery from Andrew Makinson into his stumps to reduce the visitors to 17 for 2.

Kendal professional, New Zealand international Jamie How, made a confident start to his innings, stroking two fours off Pelser and looked to be the only player throughout the game completely at ease on the slow batting surface.

He shared a partnership of 38 for the third wicket with Nick Lewthwaite before wicketkeeper Adam Coates acrobatically caught Lewthwaite off the bowling of Andrew Makinson. In the same over veteran batsman Terry Hunte departed for a duck when he was run out by a direct hit from point by Chris Parkinson after a mix up with How.

Sensing a way back into the game Leyland captain David Makinson expertly positioned his fielders to deny How run scoring opportunities. Peter Cummings trapped Jack White LBW, but youngster Oliver Field battled hard with How to take the score to 79. Then followed possibly the defining moment of the match when David Makinson dismissed How caught in the deep by James Rounding following four consecutive deliveries that had beaten the Kiwi's bat.

Leyland's out cricket was up to the same high standards Kendal had set earlier in the day, with Liam Hurt taking a magnificent diving catch to dismiss Nick Phillips from a Pelser slower ball. When Field was bowled by David Fisher for 7, Kendal were 87 for 8 and the game that had twisted one way and then another was in the balance once more . With the drying wicket assisting his off spin Fisher held his nerve to remove Kendal captain Chris Miller caught at mid wicket and then secured a three run victory for his side by removing last man Mark Phillips caught and bowled. The game was played in great spirit throughout and was a pleasing advert for league cricket.

A large crowd, including a big travelling contingent from Kendal, helped build the tension towards the end of the match, with each run or dot ball being cheered vociferously.

Northern League Chairman Norman Poole was on hand to conduct the post-match presentations.

David Fisher was selected as Man of the Match for his nerveless bowling display at the death and collected his award from the league's President Brian Standing.

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