FORMER England star Ronnie Irani believes his former club Heaton should have nothing to fear about being ‘underdogs’ when they take on Little Lever in tomorrow’s Hamer Cup final at Tonge.
The ex-Lancashire and Essex all-rounder has a close affiliation with the Lower Pools side after growing up overlooking the pitch and insists the cup final appearance is reward for the coaches who spend their time developing the talent at Heaton.
Despite taking on last season’s champions the 43-year-old believes it will be a great occasion bringing two of the Bolton League’s finest sides.
He said: “Heaton has always been a club focused on youth and development as well as some good professionals while Little Lever are also another club with a great history.
“I can remember going up to Little Lever and it struck me they were a club that always did so much for their local community.
“I never made it to the Hamer Cup final but it is just the same as a Natwest final or playing for England against India as it is a one-off game.
“I am just chuffed Heaton have got to the final.
“There will be a great feeling if Heaton can do it because they go in as underdogs but they should be proud of their achievements getting to the final.
“My advice is to just enjoy the moment even if Little Lever win and do what the club have always done shake hands with the opposition if you are beaten by a better team.
“It is always going to be difficult for Heaton to get a longevity of success.
“They may not be able to get the best players in the area but they have a great base of developing young players.
“At Heaton it is always about improving the young players and making them realise cricket is part of their social life so this cup final will be a great experience for them.”
Irani was at the club from being a seven-year-old in 1978 until 1989 as an 18-year-old before having a spell at Eagley CC as a professional.
He then played for Lancashire between 1990 and 1993 before moving to Essex where he enjoyed cult status bringing on the likes of current England captain Alistair Cook.
The ex-Smithills pupils made three Test appearances for England and 31 international One-Day appearances.