BRETT Ernst hit a crucial 60 as Bradshaw made it two wins from two in the Peter Stafford Trophy against Adlington on Saturday before admitting his frustration at their league form.

The Rigbys side, one of the pre-season title favourites, are languishing fourth bottom in the Premiership having only won three of nine matches.

At Adlington, Bradshaw posted 188-7 (45 overs) batting first, a total captain Ernst was delighted with on a dry and difficult pitch.

His 82-ball effort was backed up by a quartet of scores in the twenties, including two down the order from Jordan Mason and Nick Palmer.

In reply, the hosts were whipped out for 131. Steve Foster’s first game of 2018 yielded 2-10 from nine overs, while seamer Tom Liversedge’s 3-12 from nine were the pick of the figures.

“Look, I’ve got to hold myself accountable for our league performances,” said Australian Ernst.

“I came in swinging from the hip at the start of the year saying ‘We’re only in it to win trophies’.

"That’s what our objective was, and we’ve fallen short at the moment. The only shine or gloss is we’re doing very well in other competitions.

“We can’t mask over the cracks. We’ve been short of the mark. But I think our position, while it doesn’t lie statistically, we’ve been better than fourth bottom. We’re just not finishing sides off.

“We’re posting good scores and seeing them run down. We need to get the opposition pro’s out for starters.

“It’s been frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking.

“We posted 291 against last season’s premiers Farnworth at home and got beat. Their pro comes out and makes 130-odd batting at six to win the game. Lostock, we got beat in the last over, Horwich the last over, Daisy Hill we lost with about seven balls left. We just haven’t bowled well enough.

“But hopefully after this break from the league, we can come back bigger and stronger.”

Talking immediately after Saturday’s game, Ernst could look forward to exciting cup clashes in the Hamer Cup against Astley Bridge yesterday and Ormskirk in the last 16 of the ECB National Club Championship (July 15).

There was actually a suggestion last week Bradshaw’s league form had cost Ernst his job, but he said: “I captained on Saturday, Friday night and last week. Every game I’ve played I’ve captained. Unless that changes, I’ll keep doing my best to turn things around.”

Back to Saturday’s game, and he said: “We thought 150 would be a good score, but we managed to kick on at the end.

“The game breaker was the return of Steve Foster (who bowls left-arm in-swingers). Himself and Tom bowled 18 overs, 5-22 between them. It took the sting out of the game.

“Steve has been around the club, watching from afar, and has seen our bowling’s been short of the mark. He’s got himself fit and in shape, has lost a couple of stone and thought ‘Why not?’.

“It makes my life easier. We’ve been letting teams get off to flyers. When you have someone like Fozzy doing that, you’re always ahead of the game.”

Meanwhile, Ernst says Nick Lester could miss the rest of the season having had surgery on a broken finger.