Lancashire League: Enfield 139-9, Burnley 190-8 - Andy Neild reports

WHEN Burnley announced the signing of Anthony Botha as their professional, the rest of the Lancashire League were asking 'Anthony who?'.

But the modest South African left arm spinner announced his arrival with a confident half century and a six wicket haul in only his second match in the competition.

By anyone's standards it was a matchwinning performance but his team missed out on the chance of victory when the heavens opened with four overs left.

At that point Enfield were reeling on 139-9 after Botha had turned the game on it's head with a spell of 4-8.

But with the home side their for the taking, the rain came down and the umpires decided to head for the pavillion.

"I think the umpires did a good job because the rain was coming down. It's frustrating but that's cricket," said Botha.

"If we were in their situation as a batting side I think we would have felt aggrieved if they'd stayed on.

"It's one of those things.

"We were playing for 10 points which seems a bit disappointing when there were only four overs left because maybe we could have pushed the situation.

"But that's the umpires job."

With a little help from the weather Botha had masterminded an amazing turnaround in fortunes earlier in the innings.

Enfield at one stage appeared to be cruising to victory as professional Otis Gibson took apart the Burnley attack in a fourth wicket partnership with skipper Andy Barker.

The West indian's first five scoring strokes went for four fours and a six as he looked capable of winning the match single-handedly. But a quick stoppage for rain broke their momentum and, on the resumption, Botha bowled with new vigour and snapped up both wickets in consecutive overs.

The 21-year-old South African suddenly had a spring in his step and started to generate a bit of turn.

He proved too good for the Enfield tail picking up two more victims as the home side slipped from 109-3 to 136-9 before the weather intervened.

Earlier in the day Botha had guided the visitors to a respectable 190-8 before skipper Andy McLeod declared when his pro was finally out in the 51st over.

Their innings had been based around a third wicket partnership of 80 between Botha and McLeod (39) after Michael Brown had laid the foundations with a confident 25 before being trapped lbw by Gibson.

Botha went on to make 61 off 109 balls as the rest of the Burnley side found life difficult on a track where the ball was not really coming on.

Bernard Reidy was the pick of the bowlers taking 4-39 from 14 overs.

It was always going to be a daunting target but Enfield got off to a steady start as Barker and Russell Edmonds put on 30 for the second wicket after the early loss of Liam Jackson.

Gibson arrived at the wicket with the score at 56-3 and immediately upped the tempo with some powerful strokeplay including a six over midwicket off Botha. But Botha trapped Barker lbw three balls after the break for rain. And in his next over tempted Gibson down the track and the West Indian was bowled without really offering a stroke.

That dismissal knocked the stuffing out of Enfield and the game swung back in Burnley's favour as Botha started to look unplayable.

But with Burnley on the brink of victory down came the rain before he could complete the job and his side had to settle for four points and Enfield two.

"The first spell off for rain helped me because it helped me get my rhythm. Before then it wasn't really there at all," said Botha.

"Otis is a dangerous player in that situation because he is a strong man and often it's not bad balls he's hitting for four but good balls.

"As soon as a guy starts dominating you like that you cannot let him get the better of you mentally. You've got to stay focused and try and be as positive as you can.

"I just kept saying to myself if we do get him out then we can win this game.

"Subsequently I got four wickets for eight runs in that period and it could have been a winning performance had it not been for the rain."

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