We continue our series of articles in which local club officials choose an all-time greatest team for their club by asking Ray Taylor who would make Bradshaw’s best 11
IN order to qualify for the team I have decided batsmen should have scored at least 3,000 runs for the club or batted 200 innings, and bowlers taken 300 or more wickets.
The choice of professional was limited to players who had been professional for at least three seasons.
I have assumed the team will be playing in at least one knockout competition and so five bowlers have been selected.
As far as possible batsmen will be allocated a place in the team similar to the one where they used to bat or are batting now, although one or two may be a place or a couple down the order.
Opening the batting is Brian Cole, the best Bolton League amateur batsman of his generation, and for a long time the League’s leading run scorer.
To partner him I considered Billy Fletcher who opened for the club between the wars, and Brian’s former team-mate Denis Hobson before deciding on Mike Hardcastle who opened the batting with him when Bradshaw achieved the double in 1976 and 1977.
At number three I had a choice of four all-round professionals: Fred Hartley from the early 1940s, Paul Rayment, Jack Threlfall, who played in the late 1920s, and Duncan Worsley. It was close but spin bowler Hartley’s statistics were marginally better than the other paid men.
The early middle order was relatively easy, as I was looking for four more aggressive batsmen, so right handed David Hindle from the 1950s and 1960s at four, selected just ahead of Jack Sofield the first chairman of the Bolton League, is followed by three left handers who all played together in the early 1990s at five, six and seven, David Morris Junior, all-rounder and opening bowler Stuart Adams and Neil Senior. Who to bat at number eight posed the biggest problem.
David Morris Senior and Billy Baines whose career started after the First World War were candidates as all-rounders but I decided five quality bowlers would suffice.
Neil Johnson has scored the runs but at his most effective would have to bat four or five, Chris Evans was a better wicketkeeper than Neil Senior but also better suited to batting higher up the order, so in the end I decided to opt for Neil’s dad Brian as keeper and aggressive right hand batsman.
Opening the bowling with Adams would be Phil Dickinson, just edging it from Stan Wilson from the 1963 title-winning side, with two further spin bowlers, Joe Walsh whose career was interrupted by the First World War, and at 11 Joe Gerrard, a team-mate of Walsh in the 1930s and 1940s, meaning there is no place for Billy Hughes from a similar era.
Team: Brian Cole, Mike Hardcastle, Fred Hartley (pro), David Hindle, David Morris Jnr, Stuart Adams, Neil Senior, Brian Senior, Phil Dickinson, Joe Walsh, Joe Gerrard.
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