Lancashire League: Ramsbottom 141 (10pts), Bacup 123-5 (6) - Tony Garner reports

IT CAN take a lot to get the English riled but they love a good scrap about the weather.

I've covered some dramatic finishes, witnessed some dodgy umpiring decisions, even chuckled at the odd streaker but nothing is guaranteed to get grown men more hot under the collar on a summer's day then the steady drip of rain.

Mind you, to call yesterday a summer's day would get you into trouble with the trade descriptions people in most other countries.

See, even I'm at it!

At Acre Bottom strugglers Ramsbottom beat the elements and Bacup but on both counts it was a close run thing.

The players had looked destined to spend a fruitless day under heavy skies getting more exercise pulling the covers on and off.

But when the sun shone briefly, one Ramsbottom batsman decided to make hay.

Simon Lord had seen his side put in to bat on a wicket that was giving the bowlers so much help it wasn't a fair contest.

Nippy Bacup professional Brad White ripped their top order apart.

Neil Richardson went for a duck as did skipper Brian Taylor and when Tommy Read was third man out for just eight Ramsbottom were 11 for three and praying for rain. It came, and by the time it had abated the game had been reduced to a 34-over affair.

At this stage Bacup were the side most anxious to get on with things. Enter Lord and the left-hander suddenly made batting look a little easier.

He survived a straightforward catch in his 20s but rode his luck to score an impressive 60.

He was very strong on the leg side and gave the home side something to bowl at.

"It was a good innings but we had a chance to get rid of him and we didn't take it," said Bacup's disappointed skipper David Thompson.

Ramsbottom's tale fell away but 141 all out always looked a useful, if not insurmountable, total. Though with 30 overs needed to be bowled in the second innings for the contest to be completed, and the clouds above Holcombe full of menace, the match was on a knife edge throughout Bacup's reply. White and Mark Taylor made steady progress putting on 52 for the first wicket but Bacup, and White in particular, seemed unable to up the scoring rate as the gloom descended.

In his defence he knew better than most the demons in the pitch.

"We should have been taken off with 13 overs to go," said a disgruntled Thompson.

In my book he had a case but with so many wickets remaining his side should surely have had a charge far earlier - certainly many of the boundary edge experts felt that way.

As it was there were only eight overs left when Bacup's batsmen needing an improbable nine an over for victory were offered the light and took it. Ramsbottom were furious. A much-needed victory looked to have been grabbed from their grasp.

Words were exchanged and spectators by now in need of warmth decided to add to the hot air with their own observations.

It was getting tense and threatening to get a little nasty.

However, no long-term damage was done.

The light improved and just two overs were lost. Game on.

Bacup now needed 136 in six overs at more than 10 an over.

They went for it with Terry Lord (26) and White (43) looking dangerous but it was too big a target and at 8.13pm, Ramsbottom clinched victory with Bacup stranded on 123 for five.

The consolation for Thompson was that his side had collected six points for their efforts but he couldn't hide his disappointment.

"We are out of both cups so we have to go for the league.

"We have some good players but we have to become more consistent. We have lost to the two bottom sides and they are the ones we have to be beating if we are to challenge for the title."

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.