Harley revs up as Rain affected by Ormskirk
NORTHERN skipper James Cole says this year’s Premier Division title race could be one of the toughest in recent years.
Not since 2009 has a side won 15 games without winning the league, and that was in a 14-team division.
Cole reckons this season’s breakaway top four – Northern, Formby, Bootle and Ormskirk – could challenge that record.
The Crosby side went top after a 43-run win over Wallasey on a dank and drizzly Saturday, after which Cole said: “At the start of the season, they were the four teams I thought would be up there, and it’s going to be very competitive so we’ve got to play well.
“We just want to keep on winning games – normally, you’d say 14 or 15 wins would win you the league, but I think this year it might be more.”
Wallasey openers Matthew Wilcox and Matthew Keogh shared 38 overs and restricted Northern to 138 on a drying, popping wicket – a target which looked a distant mirage when Liam Grey took two wickets in the first over. He and Jamie Barnes reduced Wallasey to 13/5, with the top four all making ducks.
The middle order rallied, but the damage was done and Grey finished with 4/37 in a 43-run victory.
Cole said: “We thought we could control the game batting first and grinding out a score, and letting the bowlers do the rest. It was quite nice to bat early, the ball was a bit slippy – but once the wicket started drying out, it started doing a little bit more, so we were happy with our total.
“Defending a score like that, you’ve got to bowl well and the bowlers did, so you can’t ask much more than that.”
Formby can count themselves unlucky to have failed to win in the league for the first time since opening day. After a rain delay at Cricket Path, the visitors from Colwyn Bay delayed their declaration as Patrick Leach hit 90 and George Johansen 66, eventually setting the hosts 192 to win in just 28 overs.
After a bright start – William Porterfield and skipper James Seward put on 101 for the first wicket, with the Irish international hitting 70 in 63 balls – Formby just failed to get over the line, closing five wickets down and just one run short.
Bootle stay third thanks to a dominant win over Lytham. Chris Liptrot took 5/46 – the first five wickets to fall, and his fourth five-wicket haul of the season – as the hosts fell for 105, before openers Will Hale and Vishal Tripathi knocked the runs off for no loss, Tripathi finishing on 64.
Ormskirk’s Tom Harley did the damage in their 47-run win over Rainford.
Half-centuries from Alex Rankin and Luke Platt set up a total of 237/7, before Harley motored through the Rainford line-up with a devilishly good 6/66. Spare a thought for one of his victims, opener Paul Farrar, who was bowled for 99.
New Brighton are still winless after Rainhill’s Akshay Darekar took 7/27 to skittle them for just 62, in response to the hosts’ 182/8, in which opener David Atkinson hit 56.
Thomas Foster starred with an unbeaten 91 as Leigh chased 219 in just 37.2 overs to beat Highfield by seven wickets. Foster and Ross Zelem put on 149 for the second wicket after Darshan Misal’s 57 helped the visitors set what they thought was a tough total.