|Accrington Cricket Club|
August 21st 1977
In August 1977 Accrington were again leading contenders for the championship when they met Church at West End. Church's professional was the prolific run scoring Pakistani Test player Shafiq Ahmed, who going into the game had scored almost 800 runs in the season. Accrington captain Ian Birtwistle won the toss and put Church in to bat. The visitors had early success with Alan Worsick having Billy Wilkinson caught behind by wicketkeeper Paul Graham and Dave Parsons, as was his speciality, claiming the prize scalp of Shafiq to leave Church 17-2.
A stand of 109 in just under two hours between captain Steve Matcalf and Ian Osborne failed Church inspite of several interruptions for rain. After Metcalf was run out two runs short of his half century, Osborne cut loose being particularly severe on Parsons, who eventually had him caught at deep fine leg by Glyn Davies for a fine 80. The innings closed shortly afterwards at 166-8 with Parsons taking 5-74 in 13 overs.
Accrington replied with a very solid opening partnership between Graham Beech, who was to go on to break the club's long standing amateur batting aggregate record before the end of the season, and his evergreen left handed partner Geoff Hayhurst. Wily old Jack Houldsworth separated the two when he dismissed the left hander, who had scored 29 out of a stand of 62 which had taken 15 overs. John Swanney was soon run out without scoring and when Beech fell to Shafiq, Accrington were 69-3. Malcolm Taylor and Alan Kennedy were dismissed by the Church opening bowlers and the visitors were really up against it in the 25th over at 92-5.
Two overs later, the score had crept up to 95-5 with Accrington professional Alan Worsick on 17. Tony Gallagher was the non striker when Shafiq came in to bowl to Worsick. The second ball of the over was dispatched high over mid wicket for six. The fourth ball got the same treatment, followed by a two. Shafiq began to bowl wider of the off stump, but balls six, seven and eight all got the long handle over mid wicket. People ran for cover, balls landing on the roof of the stand and on the committee room. Alan went from 17 to 50 in 8 balls, five of them sixes, and the game had turned around again. The crowd collected £14.24 for the 29 ball half century. Gallagher and Glyn Davies were dismissed before Ian Birtwistle arrived to support Worsick's victory charge. A six off former teammate Geoff Woodcock was the winning hit and Alan had scored a career best 85 not out scored out of 100 runs in just over an hours batting, including nine sixes and two fours. Just as the winning hit sailed over the boundary in the 32nd over, the rain began to fall heavily. Church and Shafiq in particular had been stunned by what they had just witnessed.