THE Bolton League maintained their overwhelming dominance of the Reader Lancashire Inter-League Trophy with a stunning 133-run victory over the Ribblesdale League in the final at Westhoughton ’s St George’s Oval on Sunday.
Led by another masterful performance by Greenmount opener Andy Kerr, who hit an unbeaten 102, the League’s batsmen posted an impressive 243-4 in their 42 overs – the match having been rain-affected at the start – then the bowlers took over with Egerton’s Will Halton taking 6-32 as Ribblesdale were bowled out for 110.
It was the fourth time in the last six years the League have won the competition and wrote another exciting chapter in the story of their success on the inter-league scene.
And once again it was the team spirit, allied to the individual talent in the Bolton line-up, that proved crucial in the final.
“They are a top set of lads as well as good cricketers,” League manager Dave Tattersall said.
“There really is a good spirit among them and you don’t always get that at inter-league level. I might sound like a stuck record saying this again, but they do bring a club mentality to the representative side. You can see that when we play against other leagues.
“These lads play for one another rather than as individuals playing for themselves, and they’ve always been like that.”
Kerr’s unbeaten century laid the foundation for the victory but Tattersall admitted the League were surprised to be given the chance to bat first on one of the three tracks prepared for Lancashire’s appearances at the Oval.
“It was a fantastic wicket and it was a big shock when they won the toss and put us in,” he added.
“Maybe they thought the weather would play a part, but although the match was rain-affected to begin with, it didn’t cause us any problems. It was a fantastic effort to get 243 off 42 overs.”
The League got off to a flyer with Kerr and Nigel Partington (Tonge), who hit 31, taking on the Ribblesdale attack and there were significant contributions from Eagley duo Michael O’Rourke and Phil Ingram, who hit 38 and 23, respectively.
In fact O’Rourke looked on for a bigger score but was unfortunate to be on the receiving end of an unlucky runout when Kerr smashed a ball straight back down the wicket only for it to deflect off the bowler’s hand onto the stumps.
With such a big total to defend, the League’s bowlers had their tails up from the start with Bradshaw ’s Phil Dickinson getting more out of the wicket than any of the Ribblesdale seamers. And with Amal Dalugoda (Egerton) helping put the screws on at the other end, the visitors were always playing catch-up – and consequently took risks.
“They put their bigger hitters in earlier than they might have wanted to but it did not come off for them,” Tattersall added.
“We were mindful of their danger man, Mo Jamal, who had hit the fastest hundred earlier in the competition. But we got him out early on and kept the screws on right through to the end for a terrific win.”