WESTHOUGHTON player-coach Atiq-zu-Zaman is aiming to help the club avoid a repeat of the 2012 Bolton League wooden spoon in the forthcoming cricket season.

The 37-year-old opening batsman and occasional wicketkeeper has been coaching the St George’s Oval club’s under-15s for the last two years while playing for Northern League club St Anne’s, for whom he scored 6,000 runs – including 22 centuries – in a seven-year stint.

But the Bolton-based father-of-three has now signed a new year-long deal which enables him to play for the club.

The Karachi-born player – who has one Test for Pakistan in 2000 to his name – is hoping to have the same influence on the Westhoughton side as he has had elsewhere. St Anne’s won the Northern League title twice while he was a player there, while the Westhoughton u15s won the Bolton League championship for their age group, as well as the Baldwin Cup, last season.

Zaman, who also works as a coach at Lancashire’s indoor facility at Old Trafford, will not be Westhoughton’s designated professional.

The club pro will be his fellow-countryman and left-handed all-rounder Qaiser Abbas, who is joining Westhoughton from Lancashire League side Todmorden, where he amassed 2,000 runs and 200 wickets in the last two seasons.

“I am very fortunate to make a living out of the game of cricket,” said Zaman. “I have enjoyed working with Westhoughton’s under-15s and it will be a privilege to play for the club this year “Hopefully, we will be able to help the club to a respectable league position this year and I will be able to continue helping to bring the youngsters through.”

Meanwhile, Zaman is harbouring ambitions of opening a Bolton School of Cricket academy.

He is currently hiring facilities at Bolton Indians CC in a bid to get his project off the ground, but would welcome support and accommodation from other areas.

Anyone interested can contact Zaman on 07861 715332 or 01204 430626.