Ashley kicked off their 2014 campaign with a trip to altitude and the picturesque Langley ground high in the hills above Macclesfield. Having won the toss on a bright and breezy spring day, the home side without their record breaking Australian Mike Kenneady, won the toss and invited Ashley to bat first on a decent looking but very soft pitch. Wood and Smith played watchfully and made steady progress against the new ball putting on 30 for the 1st wicket before Tommy Smith mis-timed a pull and was caught mid-wicket for 14. Harry Horsfall added a dozen in quick-time and his promising innings was brought short by a direct hit from midwicket by Berzins. Wood and skipper Sibtain Baig added a classy half century for the 3rd wicket before Wood struggling with a groin injury fell for a well-crafted 31 as he tried to hit out or get out. Baig and Jake Cairns batted with no little class to add another half century with a mix of classy drives to the boundary and excellent running. Cairns fell for 26 off 19 balls, and Baig for 58 off 67 balls, unfortunately both within a couple of balls of each other. This saw Ashley lose momentum as Langley fought back to get back some control in the closing overs. Ashley finished on 183-6 and bank maximum batting points, which was an encouraging start for a side that failed to post a hundred in the same opening fixture a year ago, but one which the home side believed was under par even in April.
Jake Cairns opened up for the visitors with a maiden, the first of several on a wicket that wasn’t conducive to quick bowling, leaving the young tyro to vary his pace and use cutters intelligently allied to occasional swing. At the other end veteran Woods made the breakthrough teaming up with keeper Smith who completed a juggling catch at the wicket to see off opening bat Letven. However, carnage ensued almost immediately as new signing Sunny Malik smashed Woods all over the park with an immense display of hitting. Sibtain Baig replaced Woods and his best efforts, several yards quicker than Woods were also despatched without offering a chance. It was Cairns who proved too canny for the batsman who had scored 50 out of the 60-1 in only ten overs, and mostly from the bottom end. He was unlucky not to pick Malik up for 49 as he skied a cutter which fell between 3 fielders, none of whom called for the catch. 2 balls later however, ego got the better of Malik who got a thick outside edge to another cutter from Cairns and with the fielding side twitching the ball swirled towards Harry Horsfall who made a fine grab and the team could breathe easy. Another ten overs from Malik and the game would have been gone. As it was, Ashley took another quick wicket with Cairns striking Brown in front of all three to leave Langley in trouble at 62-3. The visitors were then made to struggle as Pattinson and Jacklin gave a master class in how to bat on the rapidly drying wicket adding 80 for the 4th wicket. Until Pattinson played back and across the line Ashley were looking a little short of ideas and ruing the loss of the toss. As it was, Farrukh cleaned him up for 38 and Ashley had an end open at 140-4. Barber offered a sharp chance to Cairns who made good ground to send him on his way with the home side still favourites at 144-5. Farrukh had other ideas as he clean bowled Betteridge and Waite without scoring; 144-7. The balance had swung in Ashley’s favour. Jake Cairns was quickly brought back into the attack and in his 1st over castled Jacklin for a fine 38. Farrukh cleaned up McCarthy for his debut 5fer for the 1X1 and return outstanding figures of 7-5-22, leaving Cairns to complete an outstanding turnaround and dismiss Berzins to pick 4-24 off 14 overs. The home side capitulated from 140-3 requiring only 43 to win off 15 overs, to losing 7 wickets for 7 runs and lose by 36 runs.