WALKDEN’S first-team manager Abid Riaz believes more teams are capable of winning the title in the Bolton League’s Premiership than in the GMCL’s equivalent.

Riaz was speaking after Walkden suffered Lancashire Knockout disappointment on Sunday away at Clifton, losing by six wickets defending 138.

Walkden went into the last 16 clash sitting top of the Premiership, while Clifton sat fourth in the GMCL’s top flight.

“I watch a lot of GMCL and Bolton Premiership cricket,” said Riaz.

“Standard wise, I think they’re both very similar. You might get better facilities and pitches in the GMCL, but player-wise there’s no difference.

“The top six, ourselves, Kearsley, Horwich, etc, we’ve all brought in good players, which is why it’s so competitive.

“In the GMCL, Flixton are going well at the top, as they have done for a few years. In the GMCL, I’d say the title is between the top three or four (Flixton, Woodbank, Prestwich and Clifton).

“But, in the Bolton League, it’s between one and six. If you have a bad run, two losses, you’ll be out of the title race.”

Sunday was a clash between two sides missing some key players.

Walkden were without the likes of cup-tied Tayler-Jay Heyes and Nick Stobart – overseas amateurs are not allowed to play in the LKO, while all-rounder Liam Jackson played through a neck injury.

Clifton, captained by Gareth Cross, were without current and former Lancashire seamers Liam Hurt and Steven Cheetham.

“It was disappointing,” reflected Riaz, who also played on Sunday.

“The conditions suited them more. We played on a used wicket, which they played on on Saturday. It was slow with low bounce, and they had four spinners.

“We were 40-5, but our opener Alex Roberts was still in and Liam, who usually bats at four, came in down the order.

“They took the score over 100, so we were thinking ‘If they stay in for another 10-15 overs, we’ll get 150 plus’. I thought that would have been a winning total.

“But Alex got out and Liam got out next ball, and we couldn’t defend it.”

Riaz, a cricket agent who deals with a number of Bolton League professionals, is in his third season at Walkden and plays as a fill-in when they are short. He has even captained them three times this season in the absence of Jonathan Fowler.

“[I've got a] 100 percent record!” he quipped.

“We’ve had a really good season so far.

“We’re seven points ahead in the league and had a good win in the Peter Stafford on Saturday by 213 runs (against Darcy Lever). Our opener Alex Roberts is having a good season, as is Nick Stobart.

“The league has always been the main priority. It’s very competitive, and you have to turn up every week because anybody can beat anybody.”

On his own situation, Riaz, who previously played for Parkfield Liscard in the Liverpool Competition, added: “I’d rather manage now because I’m not as fit as I used to be, and it takes me about three days to recover. I’d rather watch the lads do the business.”