Having abandoned Sedbergh due to the poor weather forecast we had noticed that a dry weather day was suggested for the east coast, so with another favourite destination available at Cleethorpes for day two of Lincolnshire v Hertfordshire off we went on Monday 14th August to see the champions elect of the Minor Counties East Division.
Lincolnshire have had quite a drastic change in personnel since I last saw them and one of the key men in the divisional championship win this season has been batsman Matt Lineker, formerly with Derbyshire second eleven, who has been scoring lots of runs both for Lincolnshire and his club side Bracebridge Heath. He was at it again yesterday with top score of 98 after opponents Hertfordshire had been bowled out for only 143 earlier in the day. Star bowler was another new man to me in Alex Willerton who plays for the Cleethorpes club and took 5-27 yesterday.
Lincoln batted on this morning with Dominic Brown and skipper and wicketkeeper Carl Wilson putting on almost a century partnership for the the seventh wicket. After Brown went at 305-7, Wilson, not a bad player for a number eight, carried on regardless. When the allotted ninety overs were up he had made a splendid 87 not out, which included nine fours and two sixes and Lincoln with what appeared an unassailable lead of 202.
Steve Gale this year's star performer in Minor Counties cricket with five centuries already had failed in the first innings and surprisingly did so again in the second when caught off that man Willerton. Herts 10-1 and in big trouble. Enter skipper Sikander at number three to play a captain's innings. Originally from Pakistan he has moved around the Home Counties club circuit for some years and even played for Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire for a while. His quick fire 47 gave the visitors some hope and he supported opener James Scott who played the anchor role of the innings for a fine 70 which set the foundations for a solid reply. Scott is the elder brother of two other Scotts who have both played for Middlesex seconds.
After a mid innings collapse precipitated by Andy Carter, formerly with Notts, Cowell and Kazmi repaired the damage with with 43 and 79 respectively. What had looked like a two day victory for Lincoln turned into hard work for all their bowlers. Left arm spinner Adam Tillcock, another former Notts player, wheeled away for twenty overs but could not get a wicket this time round and Herts had achieved their first objective of taking the game into day three.
Next morning tailenders Waring and Kulkarni added sixty odd runs for the ninth wicket to prolong matters into the afternoon session, but Lincolnshire had no problem in scoring 143-3 to win the game by seven wickets. They look worthy champions and will surely give Berkshire a good game in both the one day and four day finals coming up shortly.
The official Lincolnshire county flag flies proudly in a neighbour's garden.