Louth hosted League leaders Bracebridge Heath at London Road on Saturday, on a wet and overcast morning.
Skipper Andy Carrington lost the toss and was duly asked to have a bat by the Lincoln side’s skipper Paul Cook on what looked a seaming wicket.
Left arm South African paceman Craig Schlebusch immediately looked a handful on Louth’s quick bouncy track, and just when openers Laurence Scott and Arran Brindle were just looking settled, he struck Brindle on the helmet with a well-directed bouncer.
The blow actually broke Brindle’s helmet and the interval required to find a suitable replacement was bad news for the home side as she fell caught behind the very next ball.
A succession of wickets followed as West, Wettasinghe and Tye all fell without really troubling the scorers. When Scott fell also to the pace bowling of Schlebusch, Louth were reeling at 34 for 5 and the game already looked to be very much in Bracebridge’s control.
However, Graham West and Bertie Milligan-Manby had other ideas and began to counter attack against the bowling of Carter and Bradley, including a lusty blow over the sightscreen from West, taking the score on to 65.
Wickets then fell again quickly as Milligan-Manby and West both fell through some good probing bowling by the visitors. Enter Stuart Barker and Richard Limmer who both batted very patiently to put Louth into a position where they could at least post a total.
When Limmer was bowled by Bradley, for an incredibly patient and restrained score of 10, Louth were still in serious trouble on 103 for 8. However, Barker was looking in fine form and striking the ball very cleanly. He was well supported by Jake Sanders in what turned out to be a crucial last wicket partnership of 20 runs, before they both sacrificed their wicket trying to move the score on, leaving Louth all out on 123.
On what was a superb surface, Louth had significantly under performed and looked at least 100 runs short of a total. Only Barker had put on any sort of batting performance and the Ludensian outfit about to bowl at arguably the best batting line up in the League, looked pretty much dead and buried at the interval.
What followed though has rarely been seen in the annals of the ECB Premier League. Carrington was clearly ‘fired up’ during his address to the team in the changing room and he certainly took this on to the field with him.
His first five overs saw him remove Nik John, Vikram Atri, Paul Cook and Brett Houston for barely a run on the board in a devastating display of bowling.
With four of the best batsmen in the league all back in the hutch, two clean bowled and two caught well at slip by Scott and Wettasinghe, Bracebridge were totally reeling. They simply had no answer to Carrington’s back of length bowling which had the ball jagging in all directions.
However, Louth were not finished there as Wettasinghe removed Hymie Bentley LBW and Carrington dismissed Kit Spence, caught behind by Graham West. Wettasinghe well deserved this wicket, as he had bowled with pace and venom throughout the opening overs with no luck.
Bracebridge were in a position they had probably never found themselves in before at 29 for 6, still requiring nearly 100 runs for victory. Carrington having bowled 12 overs on the bounce finished with amazing figures of 33 for 5, but the job was not yet done.
Stuart Barker rounded off his excellent performance with the bat, with a sharp direct hit run out to remove Carter. Stewart West came on to replace the ailing Carrington and proceeded to bowl a short but incisive spell of 5.2 overs 10 for 3, including clean bowling South African Craig Schlebusch and removing the last wicket of Bradley, caught well by Brindle to see Bracebridge bowled out for their lowest ever ECB score of 65.
Even though Barker’s back to the wall crucial innings of 28 was a big turning point in the game, it was clear to all that Carrington’s rolling back the years display of bowling saw him take the man of the match award.
This week, Louth have another tough game as they travel south to Market Deeping. Thanks to club sponsors Kenwick Park Estate and also match ball sponsor Richard Garbutt.