PREMIERSHIP leaders OULTON PARK were routed for just 23 runs by reigning champions Bowdon on Saturday.
But how much their humiliation was owed to the South Downs Road pitch is debatable.
The match umpires marked the pitch below standard and reported: 'It was low and slow and made for dull cricket. The club ought to do something about it without delay.'
Oulton are not the first to find run getting at Bowdon difficult, although they are the first to find it virtually impossible.
They were accused of only being interested in a draw by home skipper Steve Bramhall and avoiding defeat was as important to them as winning was to second-placed Bowdon.
Park chairman Roy Ramsbottom said: 'We'll take it on the chin and get on with it. We still lead by 23 points.'
The Oulton innings was a new all-time low for the 30-year-old County League (beating North-wich's 24, also against Bowdon in 1990) though the Little Budworth side stayed 33 overs and two hours at the crease.
Lancs second-team bowler Gary Yates bowled 11 consecutive maidens and he took three wickets as the visitors limped to 5-8.
Bowdon were in trouble themselves at 75-5 but recovered to post 145-9 dec (Chris Jones 3-63, Stewart Eaton, Danny Jones 2-16).
Oulton 2nds were short of first-choice bowl-ers and Bollington totted up 257-3 dec. But they were not short of bats and Steve Yates (83) and John Kettle 57) led them to victory at 260-4 at Little Budworth.
Oulton U11s 101-1 beat holders Cheadle 98-5 in the County League Knockout semi-finals.
On Sunday, an Oulton President's XI will take on an Australian XI gathered from Cheshire clubs (11am). THE pitch at Hyde for Winnington Park's League Cup tie on Sunday was also 'shocking'.
But they also won the all-important toss and put their Premiership hosts in.
Hyde scored 167-9, having recovered from 43-3. Jamie Cowell, who took 2-16 off his nine overs, the supportive Vishnu Bhardwa, who also only conceded 16 runs, and Jason Hayes (2-30) made things awkward for the hosts.
Although the wicket had dried out a little, there were no signs of improvement as balls continued to fly through with varying amounts of bounce and deviation.
An excellent opening spell from Tom Youngs pegged back the run chase but Craig Little and Paul Sinclair forged a 75 before the latter was bowled for 45, which included three sixes.
At 99-2 off 18 and with the prolific Little still at the crease, the game looked safe. But when he went for 40 and Tom Pilling was run out for four, doubts crept in. But any worries were eased by James Lewis whose 38no was accompanied by four glorious fours by Bhardwa and Park entered the quarter-finals at 170-5. They now meet Middlewich or Bowdon away.
Skipper Mike Johns was on form on Saturday, taking 3-13, and David Leech struck 37, but Winnington (154ao) lost by five wickets at home to Brooklands (155-5) in Division One. WEAVERHAM extended their unbeaten run to three games at Irby and turned their hopes of survival up a notch in Division Two.
With a little more luck, they might have won. The crucial point in the Irby innings was when their top scorer of the day, Steve Hurworth, was dropped early on before making 84. Alan Bell (3-36) and Rob McMillan (2-54) were the pick of the bowlers as Irby declared at 200-7.
The loss of late wickets meant Weaverham had to play out a creditable draw at 174-9 after Jamie Allen (31), McMillan (34) and Kevin Douglas (38) had scored well.
Weaverham 2nds stuttered to 145 with the main contribution coming from in-form Richard Goodier (29). Irby rattled off 146-1.
MIDDLEWICH have still to pull themselves out of a sticky patch. Chris Ainley scored 32 but he was the only individual success as they fell for 152 against Congleton, 156-3.