ECB Premier League - Bootle edge nearer to title
Saturday 30th August 2003

With Huyton only managing a draw at Newton le Willows and Wallasey losing heavily at Northern, Bootle edge nearer to the ECB Premier League title they last won in 1999, with a 33 pt lead over Huyton and a game in hand.

Visitors Northop Hall elected to bat at Wadham Road. The fact that they managed to reach 149 from 49 overs was down to opener James Dyer, whose 71 out of 132 was the backbone of an innings torn apart by Robin Fisher's 8-53 from 20 overs, Bootle's best bowling figures for two years when Chris Finegan took 8-69 at Colwyn Bay.

Bootle lost two wickets for 47 but Graham Lloyd (36*) and Richard Hignett (67*) added 103 to take their side through to a convincing 8 wicket victory.

Huyton's challenge for the title was put on hold by a Newton le Willows side fighting off relegation. Choosing to take first strike, Huyton batted 49.3 overs for a declared total of 250-7, David Heyes (64, 10x4s, 1x6), Jude Mahadanaarachchi (57, 10x4s, 1x6) and Kevin Murphy (47, 4x4s) with Danny Wakefield taking 3-67 and Gareth Breese 3-70.

The declaration gave Newton a possible 58 overs to reply. Ending the game with 235-9, Danny Barlow 66 (8x4s, 1x6), Ian Walkden 35 (7x4s) and Martin Murnan 30 (4x4s), Ashraf Nawab (4-71) and Roger Smith (3-22), Newton edge one point above Maghull but stay in a relegation position.

Wallasey's hope of retaining the title took a further blow after a 97 runs defeat at Northern's Moor Park. Sherwin Campbell souped up Northern's rescue act with 142 from 145 balls with 14x4s and 2x6s as he added 139 for the second wicket with David Brown 65 (81 balls, 9x4s) and former player, Nick Doggett, taking 3-51.

Phil Unsworth (4-31) and Jack Woosey (4-33) restricted the visitors to 171 in 46 overs with Phil Luxon 62 (105 balls, 11x4s) and Paul Strang (23).

Ormskirk and Lytham fought out a draw at Brook Lane after Ormskirk had declared at 248-4 in 58 overs with John Armstrong left on 96*. David Snellgrove scored 46 and Ian Glayzer 38. Given 50 overs in return, Lytham ended the game with 203-8, Tony Mulligan (45), Guy Roberts (34) and Jack Kelliher (31) with Phil Armstrong (3-54) and Snellgrove (3-79).

Wigan's hopes of hanging on to a Premier League place took a further jolt after defeat at Rake Lane. New Brighton's Chandika Hathurusinghe's 100* contained 16x4s and 1x6 and he added 134 for the fourth wicket with Martyn Evans (79, 11x4s, 2x6s). Chris Davies chipped in with 45 (8x4s) as the Rakers totalled 263-4 in 46.2 overs).

Wigan made a disastrous start losing two early wickets but then Sean Casham 59 (11x4s) and Nikhail Haldipur 87 (12x4s, 2x6s) added 108. With Mark Cullen adding a late order 38, it just wasn't sufficient as Wigan were all out for 213 after 48.3 overs, Lancashire's Sajid Mahmood taking 7-33 in 14.3 overs and John Horrocks, 3-85 in 14 overs.

With Newton le Willows and Wigan failing to win, Maghull's Premier League status may be safe for another season despite losing at Leigh. After Kiran Powar had reached 50 and Niall McDonnell 28, Maghull managed to collapse from 148-6 to 148 all out after Chris Melia had taken 3 wickets in 5 balls to finish with 3-1-2-3.

After Steve Mullaney had gone for 54, Leigh were 115-6 but 20 from Brendon Donkers and a spirited 12* in 19 balls from 16 year old Greg Jennings, compared to Dave Dove's 7* from 55 balls, gave Leigh victory at 151-7 after 50.3 overs.