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Junior League Secrestary's Report Season 1997

The Northern League's Inter-League season started quite late in 1997.
On the 8th June, the Bolton Association entertained us at Standish Cricket Club in the Manchester Evening News knock-out competition and although we were strong favourites to go through to Round 2 we suffered an unexpected reversal on a good pitch in windy conditions.

With the exception of Gareth Ashburner (Kendal) - 48 and Ansar Afsar (Leyland DAF) - 27 the Northern League batting is best forgotten.
Being dismissed for 127 in 42.4 overs it seemed a formality that the home team should knock off the necessary runs with overs to spare.,but cricket being the game it is , the Association were made to sweat for the runs, eventually winning by a wicket with only a couple of overs to spare.

Nassar Afsar (Leyland DAF) had the excellent figures of 4 for 30 off ten overs but the highlight of the game was Andrew Mercer's ten overs of fast medium pace bowling which saw him take one wicket for a miserly 5 runs. Quite remarkable.

The first game of the North West Colts Trophy took place on the most northerly ground in the League, Kendal Cricket Club, the visitors being the Ribblesdale League.

On winning the toss the visitors inserted us and we can thank Neil Dasgupta (Leyland DAF) - 64 and again Ansar Afsar -30 for a fairly respectable and defendable total of 170 for 8 after the 50 overs.

Ribblesdale League's Mark Wilson - 55 attempted to hold his teams reply together , but a middle order collapse brought about by an excellent spell of leg spin bowling by Preston's Atul Sachdeva (4 for 26) and a return of 3 for 31 for Nassar Afsar saw the opposition all out, twleve runs short of their target.

On the 29th June, we visited Rainhill Cricket Club for a Colts match against the Merseyside Competition, a team that was enjoying a successful start to the campaign.

Batting was extremely difficult on a very slow pitch and runs were at a premium, so it was quite understandable when we were invited to take the first strike.
Captain Chris Lowe (Darwen) with 46, 38 from Neil Dasgupta and 29 not out from Adam Cotton (St Annes) ensured that we had a reasonable total, 148 for 7 under the difficult conditions.

Each of the Northern League bowlers returned good figures, the pick being again Andrew Mercer with 3 for 11 from his 10 overs, and the Merseyside Competition only managed to have two batsmen in double figures in a final total of 71 all out, some 77 runs short.

We were entertained by the Cheshire County League at Cheadle Hulme Cricket Club on the 6th July on what appeared to be a batter's paradise.
However, appearances can sometimes be deceptive and having elected to bat first, the Cheshire County League struggled to 163 for 8 against alround tight bowling from the Northern League attack(Adam Cotton 3 for 17 from 10 overs)

We also found runs hard to come by and with the exception of Chris Lowe, with 35, six batsmen on reaching double figures , failed to capitalise and did not go on to make a major score.
Eventually we fell some 25 runs short, thus losing to the team that was to win the competition.

We went into the last of the "round robin" matches at Stanley Park, Blackpool against the Glossop and District League, with high hopes of qualifying for a place in the semi-finals as at least best runner up.

An opening partnership of 124 between Gareth White (Netherfield) - 130 and Neil Dasgupta -44 ensured a high total,and after 50 overs the impressive score of 252 for 6 was recorded.

.Atul Sachdeva was again too good for the opposition with a return of 6 for 16 and being well supported by Paul O'Sullivan (St Annes) with 3 for24, the Glossop League succumbing for 87 after only 28 overs.

Our record of Played 4 Won 3 Lost 1 was unfortunately considered to be an inferior record to that of the Derbyshire and Cheshire League, namely Played 3, Won 2 (one by default) Lost 1 by runs per over.
(At the recent North West Colts A.G.M I managed to convince the other Leagues that runner up should be decided on a points gained basis for 1998 season).

So again the Under 18 Inter-League season was one of under achievement and I'm sorry to relate that the Under 15 Representative XI once more failed to progress in the Michael Roche Trophy.

In a good competative game, the Lancashire Colts team, who were our first round opponents, found the excellent track at Fleetwood Cricket Club to be to their liking and scored 197 for 5 against a good bowling attack.
Jamie Nichol and Paul Sidebotham taking 2 wickets apiece.

In reply, despite spirited knocks by Andrew Taylor - 57 and 36 by Daniel Thomas the Northern League finished second best to a very strong side on top of their form.

On the domestic league front, the four semi-finalists were Blackpool, Darwen, Leyland DAF and Morecambe and in spite of some extremely inclement weather, the finalists were decided by Darwen beating Leyland DAF and Blackpool beating Morecambe.

The final was held at Stanley Park, on a bright and somewhat breezy day and Blackpool took first strike on what looked to be a good, sporting pitch.
Lee Hilton, who during the season had been impressive for England Schools, took the game by the scruff of the neck scoring an excellent half century in even time.He led the home team to a very respectable 169 for 5 from the allotted overs, but the Darwen side was full of experienced players and a tight finish was predicted.

However, for once, Darwen were unable to come up with "the goods" and were bowled out for a disappointing 77.
Captain Simon Long and his Blackpool team are to be congratulated on such a polished performance.
They have made great strides over the last 12 months.
Commiserations go to Darwen but I'm sure they will again be a team to be reckoned with in 1998.

Finally, it was hoped that this year the League would be competed for in three zones of four as decided at the AGM.
However, St Annes disappointingly withdrew from the competition to compete in the Palace Shield Under 17 League during the coming season, and you can imagine this has resulted in some head scratching and deliberation by yours truly.

I have attemptrd to lure, Lytham Cricket Club, Carnforth and Penwortham into the fold but all to no avail.

As the National Westminster Bank have again come up trumps in generously sponsoring our young players in 1998, it is imperative that we have a competative competition so as you will note from the fixture list, it has been necessary to divide the League into two rather than three groups.

To close. may I sincerely thank all those who contributed to making 1997 such an enjoyable season.
The hospitality provided by Blackpool, Fleetwood and Kendal Cricket Club as hosts for the three homs Inter-League matches deserves out grateful thanks and, of course my appreciation of all the hard work put in by Roger Harrison, John O'Sullivan and Gerry Thomas must be put on record.

Thanks are also due to the Umpires, scorers, caterers, groundsmen etc. for all their help and enthusiasam through out the season.
I look forward to 1998 and hope for success, friendship and a long hot summer to enjoy it in.

Clive Henderson
Assistant Secretary (Juniors)

National Westminster Bank

Northern Junior League

Table 1997

Club P W L N/R Pts
Darwen 9 6 2 1 13
Morecambe 9 6 2 1 13
Leyland DAF 9 6 3 0 12
Blackpool 9 4 3 2 10
Fleetwood 9 3 4 3 8
Lancaster 9 3 4 2 8
Netherfield 9 3 4 2 8
St Annes 9 4 5 0 8
Kendal 9 3 6 0 6
Chorley 9 1 6 2 4

Championship Play - Offs

Semi - Finals

Morecambe 83/6 lost to Blackpool 86/1
Darwen 114/2 beat Leyland DAF 113/4


Blackpool 169/5 beat Darwen 77

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