ECB Premier League - Northern's young ones near their target
Saturday 20th August 2005

The game of cricket is a great leveller and there isn't anyone who will agree with that more than Sefton Park's Paul Horton. One minute, he is experiencing the greatest moment of his short cricketing career, fielding substitute for his adopted country against his native country in a test match at his adopted home ground of Old Trafford and, a week later, he is sitting in the pavilion at Sefton Park CC wondering how his side has been rolled over for 70 by potential ECB Premier League champions, Northern.

Yes, cricket is a crazy world. Northern's captain Phil Cooper, 39 on 5th September, is the 'elderly gentleman' of the side and is old enough to be father to eight of them. With him, the average age of the side is 21, leave him out and it drops to 19.4.

If Northern are fortunate to win their first ever 1st XI league title in September, it will be, without question, the youngest side in the history of the Competition to do so.

Leaders, Northern were invited to take first knock on a sunny, hot, cloudless afternoon at tree lined, picturesque Sefton Park. Karl Brown (17) opened with Jack Kelliher (19) and the two had added 102 before Brown was lbw to Stuart Wade for 40 (55 balls, 6x4s).

Kelliher (pictured left), formerly with Lytham, held the innings together as John Wildman (2), Steve Parry (8) and Carl Hey (4) all went back to the pavilion in quick procession. At 185-4, Kelliher missed one from Bruce Neary and was bowled, having completed his maiden Competition century, 118 from 111 balls with 12x4s and 5x6s. Ian Butler went soon after for 0 and play continued until Cooper declared at 231-8 after 48 overs, Ramesh Powar ending with 3-72.

After a lean two weeks, Ian Butler bounced back to form by claiming the first six Sefton Park wickets to leave the home side reeling at 26-6, which included Horton for 14. Howie Baird (13) was next out, 36-7, but then Paul Squires and Peter Jones added 30 before the final axe fell when Squires was given out lbw to Steve Parry. Sefton Park all out for 70 in 26 overs in 103 minutes.

Northern's last five matches are: (h) Leigh, (a) Ormskirk, (h) Bootle, (a) Wallasey and (h) Northop Hall.

New Brighton kept the gap with Northern to 25 pts after a seven wicket win against Lytham at Rake Lane. The visitors chose to bat with Guy Roberts top scoring with 77 and Jimmy Wisniewski 34. Lytham were all out for 210 (45.1 overs) but unfortunately left the Rakers with two injuries as firstly, Martyn Evans fractured a thumb taking a catch to dismiss Nick Knight for 0 from the third ball of the game and then Kamran Faroog split his webbing whilst attempting another catch. Rudra Singh finished with 3-77.

New Brighton slumped to 61-3 in reply, Chris Davies 20, before Paul Bryson (102*, 160 balls, 14x4s, 1x5) and Paul Strang (71*, 73 balls, 15x4s) saw them through with a stand of 150* in 104 minutes.

New Brighton's last five matches are: (a) Fleetwood Hesketh, (h) Wallasey, (h) Hightown, (a) Bootle and (a) Ormskirk.

Skipper Ian Cockbain's return after injury coincided with a third successive defeat for Bootle who were beaten by 56 runs at Beech Walk. David Snellgrove took a wicket in each of his last four overs, all maidens, as he claimed 4-40 in 13 overs in a Leigh innings of 147 from 43.2 overs, Andy Batterley (38) and Neil Williams (35).

Leigh captain Steve Mullaney (pictured left) had the last laugh as he, not previously having taken more than three wickets in a 1st XI league match, helped himself to 8-25 in 8.3 overs as the champions crumbled to 91 all out (30.3 overs) after former Leigh star, Ronnie Davis had rescued them from 58-7 with a stern 21*.

Despite being all out for 77 (38.5 overs), Wallasey's defeat at Huyton keeps them in fourth place, 4 pts ahead of their victors. Huyton batted first and recovered from 87-9 to be 114 all out (28.2 overs) with John Murphy taking 6-30. Craig Prince hit 33 in Wallasey's paltry reply with Waqas Chughtai taking 6-31 and Ashraf Nawab 4-33.

Hightown could yet survive relegation after only one season in the ECB Premier League but they are still 26 pts behind tenth placed Leigh after their 5 wicket win against Fleetwood Hesketh at Sandy Lane. Evon McInnis (5-37 in 19 overs) bowled unchanged as Hesketh could only manage 116 after 37.5 overs, Neil Rimmer (27) and Kevin Murray (25*). Guy Edwards steered Hightown to the win with 48* to leave them with 117-5 after 35.4 overs.

It was disaster once again for Northop Hall after their trip to Ormskirk, slipping to their thirteenth defeat of the season. Hall's Goolam Bodi took 7-44 as Ormskirk reached 171 (62.5 overs) after being asked to bat, Mike Taylor (61) and John Armstrong (27).

Northop Hall lost their first three wickets for 25. Bodi (32) and Amir Mahmood (40) added 31 but with Adam Sanford taking 5-30 and Martyn Farrell, 3-45, Hall were dismissed for 141 (35.5 overs).