By Michael Latham
Robert Parker the seasons first century maker
Glorious spring sunshine heralded the start of the Furness Building Society Northern Premier Cricket League (in association with 3D Sports) season and with champions Netherfield inactive there was an opportunity for title aspirants to stake early season claims.
Darwen, Leyland and Morecambe did just that, all three sides collecting the maximum 15 points from wins batting first. There were 12-point wins batting second for St Annes and Kendal but despite hitting the highest total of the day Carnforth had to settle for a winning draw.
Young English batsmen Robert Parker (Carnforth) and Adam Peacock (Chorley) became the season's first century-makers while there were outstanding bowling performances from Chorley's James Lee, Barrow's Jon Miles and Darwen's Stuart Hampson.
New regulations governing the employment of overseas professionals and delays caused by the extra administrative processes meant that many sides spent an anxious week scouring for sub-professionals as their nominated professionals had failed to arrive in time for the start of the season.
Of the 12 sides in action only Carnforth, with an English born pro in Gareth Pedder, and Preston, with the returning Bilal Asad, were able to field their nominated professionals for the season.
Kendal had the best fortune in securing a deputy, their sub-pro Richard Waite taking eight wickets in their win at Barrow.
In the game of the day at Stanley Park Morecambe enjoyed a sensational 26 runs victory over Blackpool in a low-scoring game. With both sides setting off the season with genuine title aspirations Morecambe looked to have made a disastrous start when they were bowled out for just 74.
Opener Mark Woodhead battled through 105 balls for what proved to be a match-winning innings of 31 and Tommy Clough was the only other visiting batsman to reach double figures. After an impressive winter's work in the indoor nets Andy Hogarth was Blackpool's best bowler, taking four for 20 while stand-in professional Wayne Madsen, the Unsworth CC professional, collected 3 for 3 in 9 overs of off-spin.
But the Blackpool innings declined to just 48 all out in reply as Morecambe's stand-in professional Kashif Shafi emerged as the match-winning bowler. Shafi, a 33-year-old off-spinner from Lahore who is a professional in the Staffordshire League took 6 for 10 in 11 mesmerising overs as only John Mounsey and Adrian Darlington reached double figures for the home side. Ironically, Shafi had nearly been hired as Blackpool's sub-pro for the game but they opted for Madsen instead.
Kendal sub pro Richard Waite, an off-spinner from Stockton CC who has represented Cumberland, was the hero of their victory at Barrow. Waite was deputising for the Kendal skipper and professional Ross McMillan, who has not yet arrived from South Africa.
Waite collected 8 for 65 from 20 overs as the home side battled to a challenging total of 165 for 9 Tod Bamber top-scoring with 48. The other Barrow wicket to fall came from a run out. Barrow battled hard in the field, Jon Miles taking four for 42 but an unbroken ninth wicket partnership between Dominic Du Plessis (31 not out) and stand-in captain Stuart Parkin (18 not out) saw Kendal home in a tense finish.
Carnforth batsman Robert Parker became the season's first centurion with an outstanding innings in his side's winning draw over Fleetwood at Lodge Quarry. Promoted to opener alongside the returning Ryan Nelson, back after one season at Lancaster, Parker hit a memorable 108 off 111 balls including 14 fours and one six and shared an opening stand of 166 with Nelson 55. New skipper Darren 'kippy' Moore, after a winter playing club cricket in Australia, weighed in with an unbeaten 50 as Carnforth reached the day's highest score, 265 for 6.
Carnforth CC line up for the camera
Mike Clinning's off-spin provided the main Fleetwood resistance, the respected all-rounder taking 4 for 77 off 18 overs to help restrict the scoring after Carnforth looked set for 300 plus at one stage. Clinning then helped steer the visitors to the safety of 185 for 6 but just missed out on a well deserved century, hitting 13 boundaries in an undefeated 98.
Mike Clinning had a fine all round game for Fleetwood
Fleetwood CC line up for the camera
Adam Peacock's first league century for Chorley just proved in vain as St Annes, captained for the first time by Andy Kellett, recorded a thrilling one-wicket victory at Windsor Park.
The left-handed Peacock carried his bat throughout Chorley's innings of 190 for 7, hitting an unbeaten 106 off 139 balls with 11 fours and two sixes. But Peacock reached his three-figure milestone some time after Parker in the race to be the season's first centurian. Left arm spinner Michael Baer, back at St Annes after a season in the Central Lancashire League, took 3 for 49 off 18 overs.
Stephen Twist hit 15 fours in his 69 made off only 59 balls but St Annes had to rely on the experienced Russell Bradley to see them to a nervous victory. Bradley hit a vital undefeated 44 after coming in at no8 to steer his side home after young Chorley seamer James Lee had taken 5 for 68.
Darwen's sub-pro Michael O'Rourke, the Eagley CC professional, steered his side to victory with a cultured 73 (including ten fours and one six) as the home side passed the 200-mark at Birch Hall against Preston. John Cordingley weighed with 37.
A new-look Preston side, captained by professional Bilal Asad, were bowled out for 133 in reply. Bilal Asad, who has been re-instated as Preston professional after originally intending to play this season as an amateur, provided the main resistance with an innings of 76 not out that included nine fours and one six. Adam Parker, originally the Preston professional for 2009 will now play for the club as an amateur.
Stuart Hampson was Darwen's most successful bowler with 4 for 47, including Parker for a duck, and Gareth Cordingley wrapped up the tail taking three for 17.
Leyland took the field against Lancaster without a professional despite frantic efforts to secure a deputy for Ameer Khan, who remains in Pakistan. But despite that handicap David Makinson's side earned 15 points from a convincing victory over Lancaster at Fox Lane.
Chris Parkinson dropped down the order from his usual opening spot to no4 and responded with a superb innings of 89 not out off 106 balls, sharing in a vital eighth wicket partnership of 119 with skipper Makinson 51 after Lancaster's sub-pro, Luke Proctor had ripped through the home batting to take five wickets.
Leyland's eventually challenging total of 209 for 9 proved too daunting for Lancaster who were dismissed for 125, last season's Leyland player-of-the-year Peter Cummings doing most damage with four for 13.
FIRST DIVISION SCORES
BARROW v KENDAL
Kendal (12pts) defeated Barrow (4pts) by 2 wickets
Barrow 168 for 9 (T Bamber 48, R Waite 8 for 65), Kendal 169 for 8 (J Miles 4 for 42)
BLACKPOOL v MORECAMBE
Morecambe (15pts) defeated Blackpool (3pts) by 26 runs
Morecambe 74 (A Hogarth 4 for 20), Blackpool 48 (K Sharif 6 for 10)
CARNFORTH v FLEETWOOD
Carnforth (8pts); winning draw; Fleetwood (5pts)
Carnforth 265 for 6 (R Parker 108, R Nelson 55, D Moore 50 not out, M Clinning 4 for 77), Fleetwood 185 for 6 (M Clinning 98 not out)
CHORLEY v ST ANNES
St Annes (12pts) defeated Chorley (6pts) by one wicket
Chorley 190 for 7 (A Peacock 106 not out, St Annes 193 for 9 (S Twist 69, R Bradley 44 not out, J Lee 5 for 68)
DARWEN v PRESTON
Darwen (15pts) defeated Preston (2pts) by 68 runs
Darwen 201 for 7 (M O'Rourke 73), Preston 133 (Bilal Asad 76 not out, S Hampson 4 for 47)
LEYLAND v LANCASTER
Leyland (15pts) defeated Lancaster (3pts) by 84 runs
Leyland 209 for 9 (C Parkinson 89 not out, D Makinson 51, L Proctor 5 for 79), Lancaster 125 (P Cummings 4 for 13)
Second XI champions defeat Chorley
Sean Bickerdike hit a match winning century for St Annes
Review of Furness Building Society Northern Premier League (in association with 3D Sports) second division games 18 April (2nd XI)
The team batting second won in all cases as the second division got underway on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
The match of the day was at Vernon Road where defending champions St Annes defeated last year's runners-up Chorley by six wickets.
Sean Bickerdike's unbeaten 105 and captain Neil Bradley's 53 not out helped the home side overhaul Chorley's challenging total of 191 for 8. Sam Tolley made 59 for Chorley.
Stuart Errington returned to Morecambe after a time away from the game with a vital innings of 41 in the win over Blackpool. Earlier left arm spinner Nick Milner took 5 for 30 and new skipper Andy Armstrong 4 for 18 as the visitors were dismissed for 93.
Lee Barnes took six wickets in vain as Carnforth just failed to defend their low total of 80 at Fleetwood, the hosts prevailing by a tense finish by one wicket.
Greg Lawrenson returned figures of 5 for 6 as Darwen completed a nine wicket win at West Cliff, Preston opener A Shaheen providing resistance with 41.
With contributions down the order Lancaster edged to a three wicket win over visitors Leyland. BV Raghan took 3 for 48 and then hit 43 on his Lancaster debut.
Finally, Kendal got home with four wickets in hand against Barrow. Newcomer A Patel hit 59 for Barrow.
SECOND DIVISION SCORES
FLEETWOOD v CARNFORTH
Fleetwood (12pts) defeated Carnforth (3pts) by one wicket
Carnforth 80 (A Laird 4 for 18), Fleetwood 81 for 9 (L Barnes 6 for 32)
KENDAL v BARROW
Kendal (12pts) defeated Barrow (2pts) by 4 wickets
Barrow 157 for 9 (A Patel 59), Kendal 158 for 6
LANCASTER v LEYLAND
Lancaster (12pts) defeated Leyland (3pts) by 3 wickets
Leyland 150, Lancaster 153 for 7 (B Raghan 43)
MORECAMBE v BLACKPOOL
Morecambe (12pts) defeated Blackpool (1pt) by 5 wickets
Blackpool 93 (N Milner 5 for 30, A Armstrong 4 for 18), Morecambe 94 for 5 (S Errington 41 not out)
PRESTON v DARWEN
Darwen (12pts) defeated Preston (0pts) by 9 wickets
Preston 69 (A Shaheen 41, G Lawrenson 5 for 6), Darwen 70 for 1
ST ANNES v CHORLEY
St Annes (12pts) defeated Chorley (3pts) by 6 wickets
Chorley 191 for 8 (S Tolley 59, W Barclay 49 not out, B Willis 4 for 35), St Annes 195 for 4 (S Bickerdike 105 not out, N Bradley 53 not out)
Michael Latham's Featured Match of the day
Carnforth v Fleetwood
Parker and Clinning the stars on the opening day
Carnforth opening batsman Robert Parker hit an outstanding century- the first of the season in the Furness Building Society Northern Premier League (in association with 3D Sports) at a sun-baked Lodge Quarry.
But his side had to settle for a winning draw as Mike Clinning completed an excellent all round personal performance with an undefeated 98 to see visitors Fleetwood to safety.
Parker has been given more responsibility this season under the new Carnforth captain Darren 'Skippy' Moore after often batting lower down the order in previous seasons.
And the early signs are that the talented all rounder is responding as he forged an impressive opening partnership with Ryan Nelson.
The left handed Nelson, back at Carnforth after a season at Lancaster, started off like a train hitting 21 off the first two overs after the home side won the toss and batted on a beautifully sunny afternoon that heralded the start of the new season.
Parker was slow off the mark and his scratchy start came almost to grief when he escaped with a dropped catch at mid on off the bowling of Fleetwood sub pro Tim Groenewald when he had made just six.
But Parker then quickly got into his stride, dominating the runs-scoring and putting pressure on the fielders, and his batting partner, with some lightning fast running between the wickets.
After a tight opening spell by Tom Blundell, Fleetwood brought Clinning and Adam Breakall into the attack with Tom Wilson and Tom Clarke also sharing the workload.
Their sub pro Groenewald was restricted to bowling two spells of four overs each on the advice of his county, Derbyshire, as he recovers from a stress fracture to his back.
Fleetwood's out cricket was tight and competitive as new skipper James Ellis marshalled his troops from behind the stumps. And the visitors certainly looked the part in their new sponsored whites.
Robert Parker plays watchfully to Mike Clinning's spin
But Parker was in irresistible mood and went on to reach his maiden century in the 33rd over out of 163.
The opening stand reached 166 before Nelson was caught on the mid wicket boundary off Tom Clarke for a fine 55 off 94 balls (six fours).
And Parker reached 108 before he was caught at long on by Nick Coultas off the spin of Clinning. He had hit 14 fours and one six and faced 111 balls.
Skipper Moore kept the momentum going with a confident innings and reached his half-century off the last ball of the innings, a huge six off Clinning. Moore's 50 came off only 45 balls.Tom Barnfield lent good support with a brisk 22 as Carnforth closed on 265 for 6, Clinning taking 4 for 77 off his 18 overs.
Carnforth skipper Darren Moore hits a six to complete his 50
New Carnforth professional Gareth Pedder and vice captain Adam Cowperthwaite each bowled testing opening spells as Carnforth put pressure on the visitors.Nelson picked up three smart catches behind the stumps as Cowperthwaite claimed the wickets of Ellis and Groenewald while Pedder dismissed Coultas for his first wicket as a professional.
Wilson and Clinning came together with the score on 44 for 3 and the pair steadied the ship before the former was caught superbly by Cowperthwaite on the mid off boundary at the One Pint Wall End for 35 off the bowling of John Denwood to leave the visitors 111 for 4 in the 30th over.
But Clinning stood firm as Moore rang the changes in his bowling attack and outgoing skipper Wayne Clarke lent valuable support in a sixth wicket stand of 63.Clinning saw his side to safety without many further alarms but just failed to reach a deserved century before the close. He finished 98 not out, an innings that included 13 fours off 129 balls.
Fleetwood closed on 185 for 6 and took five points to Carnforth's eight.
The new Carnforth groundsman, Steve Ayres, can be proud of his efforts as Lodge Quarry looked a picture.
And both sides can take positives from an entertaining game.