MAN of the match Imran Mirza hopes Heaton’s first trophy for 61 years will be the start of things to come.
The Lower Pools outfit beat Little Lever by 113 runs at Tonge on Sunday to clinch the Hamer Cup.
They owed a big debt of gratitude to their captain, Mirza, who led from the front, top scoring with 78 as Heaton posted a relatively modest target of 215, before taking 5-25 as their opponents collapsed to 102 all out.
He said: “It was a fantastic achievement to win for the first time since 1951 and gives those long-serving members of the club who have been working hard for more than 40 years some reward.
“We have some of the best young up and coming players in the league and if we can bring in some experienced cricketers we can push on and get in the top five next season.”
Heaton struggled at the start of the Bolton League season, largely because Mirza went into the campaign dogged by injury.
But as his form has picked up, dovetailing nicely with new pro Humayun Farhat, results have followed suit.
As well as storming to their first cup success in more than half a century, they have also taken the notable scalps of Westhoughton and Horwich (twice) in a recent run of six consecutive victories.
“At the start of this year, we wanted a top eight place and never mentioned winning the cup, but we have a few games left and can still make both those goals,” said Mirza of his ninth-placed side.
The understated skipper admitted the performance went “pretty well”, as Matt Fryer added 43 to their total, while while young opener Oli Sutcliffe and Anwar Ul-Haq both hit 28.
But Little Lever remained in with a good chance of victory as they went into bat, largely down to pro Kamran Younis’ 6-66 and 3-42 from Raqi Mahmood.
But only four of their batsmen made it to double figures, of whom Mark Martin, who hit 44 not out batting at number eight, was the only player to score more than 15.
Mirza was Little Lever’s main tormentor, removing four of the top five batsmen. But magnanimous Heaton president Warwick Milne believes lady luck played its part in the resounding win.
He said: “We have got to offer our commiserations to Little Lever, but we had a bit of fortune when we batted as the ball went in the air and did not go to hand.
“It was different when we were bowling, everything seemed to happen. There was a towering performance from Imran and either of his performances was worthy of the man of the match (batting or bowling) but when you enjoy both success you can be accused of hogging it.
“We are delighted to have some good juniors coming through, with young batsman Oliver Sutcliffe only being 19 or 20 and Alex Jones a top young bowler.
“And our wicket-keeper Josh McGreavey may have been in the first-team a few years, but he is still young.
“The success is the result of our junior set-up and the coaches, such as Dave Parkinson and Phil Jackson, who turn out on a Friday night to work with the kids.”