Porthill Park 1st XI v Burslem 1st XI - 31st of May 2014.
By Andrew Birkin
Burslem skipper Chris Lowndes says side must improve to avoid relegation scrap.
Captain Chris Lowndes admitted Burslem can forget about Premier Division cricket next season if they replicate their performance at Porthill Park.
Burslem have endured a tough start to the season, and they are still searching for their first win after being comprehensively out-played en route to a 10-wicket defeat.
It sent them sliding to the bottom of the table – and already 24 points shy of safety – but it will be the manner of the display which will cause the most concern for Lowndes.
Shelvin Gumbs top-scored with 67, but from 114-4, Burslem collapsed to 137 all out.
John Hancock picked up 4-38, and then made an unbeaten 82 as he joined forces with Ryan Hassett (46no) to complete the formalities.
It left a dejected Lowndes mulling over how to reverse his side's fortunes ahead of next week's home game against second-from-bottom Wood Lane.
"It was shocking from us, especially after being 114-4 with the bat, and then in the field we just gave them balls to hit," said Lowndes.
"We created a couple of chances, but the same things are happening week in, week out.
"It's a 15-week season now and we've got to win over half of those games. We'll have to go again, but it is going to be tough because confidence is low.
"We could be relegated with four or five games to go if performances like that carry on.
"I've done my talking in the dressing room and it's now down to the other 10 lads to show how much they want to stay in the Premier Division and put in the hard yards.
"We've got to try to pick ourselves up because it is a massive game next weekend, although they are all big matches in this division."
Burslem had found the going tough in the early stages of their innings as Porthill Park new-ball duo Rao Ifthikar Anjum and Ben Cotton posed problems.
Lowndes, Kevin Mountford and Mick Rowley all perished to the pair to leave the visitors on 50-3.
Zen Malik, who became Hancock's first wicket, was dismissed with the score on 82, but with Gumbs in residence, Burslem were on course for a competitive total.
The Berkshire batsman remained true to his attacking principles, but after reaching 67, he perished to provide the turning point of the contest.
He'd struck five fours and four sixes, but the ball after his final maximum, he attempted to repeat the feat off spinner Dan Hancock and was caught at long-off by Sohail Zaroof.
From 114-5, the Hancock brothers seized their chance to pick off the rest of the Burslem batting.
John took the plaudits for his four wickets, but Dan wasn't far behind as he picked up 3-11 to wrap up the innings in clinical fashion.
Early wickets were the order of the day for Burslem if they were to deny Porthill Park only their second league win of the campaign.
However, they rarely looked like separating John Hancock and Hassett once they had negotiated the first few overs after the interval.
Hancock was particularly severe, hitting six fours and four sixes in his confident 74-ball knock.
Hassett was content to play the anchor role, finding the boundary on five occasions in his 93-delivery effort as Porthill Park romped home in 27.2 overs.
Home captain Dan Hancock said: "I couldn't ask for anymore from the lads.
"I thought it was a good toss to win because there was a bit in it early on, although we did bowl really well. We created pressure and that led to the wickets.
"Low scores have been the order of the day here this season, so we spoke about being positive and after the start we made there was only going to be one winner.
"I wouldn't swap John or Ryan for anyone else in the league. John just gets on with his cricket and enjoys playing for the club and Ryan has been a great addition for us."
Hancock believes this type of performance was around the corner after seeing improvement from his side in recent weeks.
"We would have won at Meakins last week if the rain hadn't arrived, so in the last two matches we've shown what we can do," he added.
"Hopefully this can be the springboard for us and we can build on this victory."