FARNWORTH Social Circle captain Matt Parkinson has stopped short of tipping his side for the title – but believes they have gone into the campaign with the strongest squad in recent memory.
The Piggott Park outfit have managed to tempt the Barrow brothers – Chris and Tim – back into competitive action, and have added experienced strike bowler Liam Bones to their list of amateurs.
And, after starting the season with three successive wins in all competitions, Parkinson has seen enough in the opening fixtures to believe they have signed one of the best pros in the league in Pakistani batsman Rameez Alam.
“We have had a good start in every department throughout the whole team, but I really feel like we have been lucky with our pro,” he said.
“You never quite know how good they are going to be, but for first impressions he looks the real deal.
“He looks to be a fantastic, quality batsman, which is just what we needed.”
Alam and experienced opener Tim Rees both hit centuries as Social Circle put on 340-9 in their stunning 151-run victory at home to Kearlsey on the opening day of the Bolton League season.
Their pro went on to make an unbeaten half century in last weekend’s rain-affected win at reigning champions Little Lever before the side steamrollered Bramhall in the opening round of the ECB National Knockout.
“We bat right down to seven or eight, and I strongly believe no other team in the league can say that, so our batting line-up is very strong,” said Parkinson.
“But I think our key strength this season could be our bowling line-up, which again I think is the strongest in the league.”
Bones and Dave Mather have provided a real cutting edge to their attack, with the strike bowlers claiming 11 wickets between them in the opening two league matches.
Chris Barrow has also made an impact on his return, with his slow left arm deliveries claiming three wickets in each of his first two matches.
He has also dovetailed nicely with young off-spinner Josh Bohannon to restrict the runs in Social Circle’s second line of attack.
“I think we have got four really good front-line bowlers in the first team, with good back-up in our second team if we need it,” added Parkinson.
“For the first time in ages, we named a 12-man squad for the first team this season, with Andy Lane providing that experienced back-up.”
Lane will start both matches of this weekend’s programme – at home to bottom club Tonge tomorrow and Walkden on Sunday – in place of Chris Barrow, who is getting married. Parkinson is also expected to miss out tomorrow.
“My back won’t allow me to play two matches in a weekend, which is why we felt it was important to have a regular 12th man in the first-team set-up.”
Meanwhile, Josh Bohannon will captain the Bolton League Under-18s team against the Central Lancashire League at Monton and Weaste Cricket Club on Monday.
The talented spin bowler is one of four Farnworth Social Circle players in the side, along with Chris Lane, Callum Rushmore and Jay Chana.
Full line-up: Josh Bohannon, Chris Lane, Jay Chana, Callum Rushmore (all Farnworth Social Circle), Bradley Yates, Rob Hardman (all Bradshaw), Chris Brownlow (Horwich), Jake O'Byrne (Eagley), Ryan Ayres (Walkden), Josh McGreavy, Joe Ducker (Heaton) and Jack Scott (Kearsley). Reserves – Ross Sutton (Heaton) and Matthew Fanning (Westhoughton).
Eagley v Bradshaw, Egerton v Astley Bridge, Farnworth v Walkden, Farnworth SC v Tonge, Greenmount v Little Lever, Heaton v Kearsley, Westhoughton v Horwich.
Astley Bridge v Farnworth, Bradshaw v Egerton, Eagley v Westhoughton, Kearsley v Horwich, Little Lever v Heaton, Tonge v Greenmount, Walkden v Farnworth SC.