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Cole look­ing for­ward to 2021 af­ter ti­tle joy

Plus group suc­cess for Trin­ity, Hightown, Rain­hill, Liver­pool, New Brighton and Leigh

- Sports · Cricket · Liverpool · Liverpool Football Club · Wallasey · Ainsdale · Christian Edwards · New Brighton · Crawley Town F.C.

NORTH­ERN skipper James Cole led his side to the ti­tle in the Love Lane Leagues’ ‘Group of Death’ – now he says he can’t wait for nor­mal ser­vice to be re­sumed next year.

Cole was able to call on a full-strength side for most of the sum­mer – in con­trast to Satur­day’s op­po­nents, Orm­skirk, as well as Formby and Fir­wood Boo­tle, all of whom missed out on their county pros.

As such, he says he would have been dis­ap­pointed not to win – and his ex­pec­ta­tion was met courtesy of an eightwicke­t win.

“We didn’t field as well as we could have done,” said Cole, ever the per­fec­tion­ist, af­ter his side dis­missed the vis­i­tors to 133. “But all the bowlers bowled well – the spin­ners tied up an end and the seam­ers chipped in with wick­ets.

“It’s al­ways nice to bowl a side out in 45 overs, it makes your job a lit­tle bit eas­ier.”

An open­ing stand of 80 be­tween Tay­lor Cor­nall and Liam Grey did the bulk of the work in the chase – Grey fin­ished un­beaten on 53, while Cor­nall rounded off an in­cred­i­bly con­sis­tent sea­son in which his low­est score was 20.

As much as Cole’s side have taken to the lim­ited overs for­mat, he says he’s look­ing for­ward to the re­turn of timed cricket.

He said: “That’s what the league is fa­mous for, and what all the top end clubs want to play.

“We’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to next year, when we’ll hope­fully have a lot more cricket to play.”

When the for­mat for the Love Lane Leagues was an­nounced, it was widely hailed as a pleas­ing com­pro­mise be­tween prag­ma­tism and ide­al­ism; a set-up that guar­an­teed clubs at least three home games against a lo­cal-ish ri­val of sim­i­lar-ish qual­ity, with the added in­cen­tive of a big pile of booze on of­fer for the even­tual win­ners.

Sure, some peo­ple pointed out, a side could in the­ory lose all six group games then win the next two to claim the lo­cal brag­ging rights – but come on, how likely was that?

On to Group A, where South­port Trin­ity lost all six group games then won the next two to claim the lo­cal brag­ging rights.

They did it the hard way, chas­ing down 194 at Ains­dale, af­ter the hosts had re­cov­ered from 0/2.

Trin­ity them­selves lost cheap wick­ets early on but the game hinged on a fourth-wicket part­ner­ship of 72 be­tween Vim Van Der Walt and Jonny Hine – Van Der Walt fin­ished un­beaten on 92, as he found just enough sup­port from the lower or­der to seal a two-wicket win with two balls to spare.

Hightown St Mary’s won group C, de­fend­ing 202 against Sut­ton af­ter Arslan Dar’s 73. Andrew Dodd’s four wick­ets had kept the tar­get within rea­son­able range, but af­ter the vis­i­tors lost four top-or­der bats­men for just 10 runs, it was al­ways go­ing to be an up­hill strug­gle.

Rain­hill’s David Atkin­son top-scored with 70 in their win over Rain­ford to claim the Group D ti­tle – Liam O’Toole’s 4/26 en­sured the hosts were al­ways play­ing catch-up with a tar­get of 189.

Liver­pool, who’ve dom­i­nated their city ri­vals in Group E, found them­selves in a spot of bother in the fi­nal against Old Xave­ri­ans – they lost wick­ets in clumps (two on 11, three be­tween 91 and 110, three be­tween 125 and 127) to slip to 148 all out. Xavs reached 77/2 in re­ply but the hosts, with Chris­tian Ed­wards tak­ing 4/48, in­duced a col­lapse of their own.

Wal­lasey, in Group F, had won all seven of their games – in­clud­ing two against their fierce ri­vals New Brighton – only to come un­stuck against the same op­po­si­tion in the fi­nal. Hav­ing lost Jamie Craw­ley, one of the stars of the sea­son, to the first ball of the match, they re­cov­ered to post 180; Dan Cooke’s 50 got the vis­i­tors within 25 runs of the tar­get, be­fore the sev­enth-wicket pair got them over the line.

The most dom­i­nant bat­ting dis­play of the fi­nals came from Leigh, in Group G, who posted 244/5 against High­field thanks to Sam Dorsey’s 79 and Karl Brown’s 52. A rout was on the cards when the vis­i­tors slipped to 24/4 in re­ply; Mad­duma Lak­mal’s punchy 91 res­cued some re­spectabil­ity, even if the win was a long way off.

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 ?? An­gus Mathe­son ?? South­port Trin­ity’s Vim Van Der Walt made an un­beaten 92
An­gus Mathe­son South­port Trin­ity’s Vim Van Der Walt made an un­beaten 92

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