THE Bolton League will take a step into the unknown tomorrow when they bid to retain their Lancashire Inter League title with a first round match against the Liverpool Competition at Farnworth Social Circle’s Piggott Park ground.
Only three members remain of the side that beat North Lancashire and Cumbria in last year’s final, with Bradshaw’s Phil Dickinson retained as captain, and Kearsley all-rounder Joe McCann and Heaton batsman Imran Mirza also returning.
A number of long-time Inter League stalwarts, including former Little Lever captain Jon Kerrigan, have retired from duty, while players from Greenmount, Little Lever and Egerton, who are competing in the Lancashire Knockout tomorrow, are unavailable for selection.
Team manager Dave Tattersall has also stepped down after 10 years in the job, to be replaced by previous incumbent Derek Kay.
“Selection has been complicated a little by the clash with the Lancashire Knockout games, but I still feel we have a very competitive squad,” said Bradshaw cricket manager Kay, who guided the inter-league side to two titles in his previous stint in the job.
“We have tried to pick a side not only from the best players available but also one that suits the pitch and Piggott Park has always been a decent place for pace bowlers.
“Saying that, we may have preferred to go in with more than one spinner and an extra batsman, but we will do our best to get through.”
Farnworth openers Adil Nisar and Chris Baxendale, along with Mirza and Social Circle’s Dave Tonge will form an experienced batting line-up, although Kay will be without the services of Westhoughton’s Atiq Uz-Zaman, who is nursing a fractured finger.
Dickinson will lead the bowling attack, with four trimmed from Social Circle’s Andrew Lane and Chris Barrow, Dave Cryer, from Astley Bridge, Farnworth’s Chris Wilson and Nick Lester, of Bradshaw.
Slow left armer McCann will provide the spin option and Heaton’s Josh McGreavey will keep wicket.
As well as getting to know a new team, Kay will also come up against new opponents in the Liverpool Competition.
“I think it is their first time in the competition – I don’t think they have played in it before and it is good to see them enter,” said the Inter League boss.
“Their inclusion certainly makes the competition stronger because it is a tough league and I am sure they will give us a very tough game.”
Full squad: Adil Nisar, Chris Baxendale (both Farnworth), Imran Mirza (Heaton), Dave Tonge (Farnworth Social Circle), Joe McCann (Kearsley), Andrew Lane (Farnworth Social Circle), Phil Dickinson (Bradshaw), Dave Cryer (Astley Bridge), Chris Wilson (Farnworth), Chris Barrow (Farnworth Social Circle), Nick Lester (Bradshaw), Josh McGreavey (Heaton).