Continuing our series of articles asking club officials to pick their best team, Keith Houghton gives us his Westhoughton line-up
OVER my 50 years at Westhoughton Cricket Club I’ve played and watched some fantastic cricketers.
Before my time were the great Tyldesley brothers, Eddie Paynter, Dick Pollard and Billy Farrimond who all represented England, but I grew up watching the likes of Hamblett, Gradwell, Tommy Parr, Brain Jones, Dave Brighouse, Moore, Melling and many more outstanding cricketers.
But with a brief of the best team I either played or was involved with here we go!
Some great pros have graced our turf, Antonio Mayers, Dwayne Smith, Colis King, Dilip Vengsakar, even current pro Qaisar Abbas, but the stand out one for me and opening the batting is Arthur Sutton.
He was Mr 1,000 runs, 100+ wickets. He’d bowl 25 overs of slow off cutters then happily opening the batting. He played the game hard but fair, a true gentlemen of the game.
Arthur’s opening partner is an easy one to pick, Steven Woods. If their was a better batsman in their 20’s in local cricket I didn’t see him. He had every shot in the book, totally fearless, playing equally well against pace and spin, and was the first player playing the modern day slog-sweep back in the 70’s. With more than 14,000 Bolton League runs the statistics say it all.
Steve Dixon was a tall elegant left-hander who drove the ball with power and had all the shots in the book, and left Westhoughton to become a pro after winning the league.
Nigel Heaton, who oozed class with every shot in his locker, still holds the club record for leading amateur league runs in a season.
Finally inside my top five is a modern-day club legend, a one club man who is still playing, with over 15,000 runs to his name. He still strikes fear into the opposition. That’s Ian Pilkington, awesome on the field, can destroy bowling attacks and still works as hard on the training ground.
All the three could bat anywhere and would walk into many a side.
At number six it has to be Michael Watkinson, a genuine all-rounder whose first-class record speaks for itself.
Mike deserves everything he’s achieved through cricket. First at practice, last to leave, always listened and was constantly trying to improve.
My wicket keeper and number seven, despite playing with great keepers in Ste Lucas, Peter Jones and Tony Unsworth, would have to be Brian Krikken. A great keeper either stood back or also up-to the wicket, a classy left hand, always calm despite what was going on. A great man for a crisis.
At number eight, he built a reputation as a pro in the league but came back to Westhoughton in the late 90s as amateur, where he guided us to a Lancs Knockout victory and had a great influence on the club. A powerful all rounder and great role model – Rod Estwick.
My next pick and spinner was an easy call, Michael Crookson.
Crooky always bowled tight, consistently outstanding in big games, a great set of hands and won’t be happy about batting this low as he could easily bat anywhere in the side scoring consistent match- winning knocks.
If Crooky wasn’t happy batting at nine my number 10 wouldn’t be happy where he was batting as he could change a game in two overs.
A genuine all-rounder, destructive powerful hitting and opened the bowling for many a season consistently.
His height helped him get extra bounce, and I still think he has the clubs best figures with a 9-47. Like the rest of this team a great set of hands – Stuart Harrison.
Number 11, only one TLF (the little fella) Eric Woods, sadly no longer with us. He never went for more than three an over, a great swing bowler who could run in all day, helped so many other bowlers.
Despite his size, a mountain of a man!
The 12th man would have to be Ian Hill. I think he holds the club record for amateur wickets in a season. He could move the ball both ways, and the number of stumpings taken off him was unbelievable at times.
With all the natural leaders in this team, picking a captain is a monumental task, but if I had to pick one, it would be Steven Woods.
A great leader, and I have lots of happy memories playing alongside him at the Tyldesleys.
Westhoughton's Greatest 11 Arthur Sutton, Steven Woods, Steve Dixon, Nigel Heaton, Ian Pilkington, Michael Watkinson, Brian Krikken, Rod Estwick, Michael Crookson, Stuart Harrison and Eric Woods - We want you to get in touch with us to tell us what you think of Keith’s team. Who do you think should also be in the mix?
Either email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @robertkelly83