ANTHONY AXFORD BOLTON LEAGUE: Saeed Anwar Jnr aims to keep Bradshaw snapping at the heels of table-topping Farnworth Social Circle
BRADSHAW captain Saeed Anwar Jnr believes his side can chase down league leaders Farnworth Social Circle if they keep their concentration levels up this season – starting against winless Eagley tomorrow.
The Rigbys men sit second, eight points off the summit, and it is looking like a two-horse race for the title with the gap to third-placed Westhoughton 15 points.
Anwar Jnr saw his side slump to 31-4 at Westhoughton last weekend before an abandonment and he admits they were lucky to avoid defeat on what was an off-day for the team.
And the skipper is confident a quick return to that form against rock-bottom Eagley can haul in the 2009 champions and give Bradshaw a shot at their first Bolton League title in 22 years.
Anwar Jnr said: “We were lucky last week – we got out of jail with the abandonment because we did not play well.
“We bowled okay but Westhoughton batted really well – in particular their pro Qaiser Abbas who scored an unbeaten century.
“But we have to forget our poor batting and focus this weekend.
“It is a game we are expected to win against Eagley and that can be tricky if you do not concentrate.
“Every game from now to the end of the season will be difficult because we are in the title race.
“Farnworth Social Circle have been playing really well but we have to keep on their tails and, hopefully, they will slip up.
“It is still there to win but we have to play well and stay focused.”
Bradshaw will be without the services of talented teenager Bradley Yates who is unavailable.
The 17-year-old, who starred for the Bolton League under-18s in their recent Lancashire Inter-League Trophy triumph against the Ribblesdale League, has been in scintillating form.
The opener has hit 398 runs in his 13 innings while he is also riding high in the wicketkeeping averages with 16 catches and five stumpings.
Anwar Jnr admits It is a blow to be without Yates and said: “Brad has played really well. He is only 17 but bats maturely and deserves to get the runs he has.
“He is a very good prospect and we will miss him tomorrow.”
With Yates and opening partner Tom Liversedge set to miss the Eagley clash, the responsibility will shift to others in the side.
But several have already shown their form this season, including the skipper himself.
Anwar Jnr topped the batting averages last season with more than 1,000 runs in 22 innings – only Farnworth’s Adil Nisar matched him in reaching four figures.
This season he has replicated that form and is four runs away from the 500-mark, while also creeping closer to 50 wickets.
But after a disappointing score of four in last week’s abandonment, there is room for improvement.
He added: “I have had two bad games really but hopefully I can get to the 500 runs this weekend – that’s the aim.
“But more importantly it is about the team getting the win to stay on Farnworth Social Circle’s heels.”
Saturday's Bolton League fixtures
Bradshaw v Eagley
Astley Bridge v Egerton
Walkden v Farnworth
Tonge v Farnworth SC
Little Lever v Greenmount
Horwich v Westhoughton