FORMER Derbyshire star Chesney Hughes smashed a superb unbeaten 82 off only 37 balls as Westhoughton won a run-laden 25-over Premiership clash at Bradshaw on Saturday.

Bradshaw’s Indian professional Ian Dev Singh Chauhan, named after Ian Botham and Kapil Dev, had underpinned Bradshaw’s 192-6 with 118 off 79 balls at the top of the order after rain had prevented a start until 4.10pm.

But captain Hughes crashed 13 fours and two sixes to secure an impressive eight-wicket win at The Rigbys with as many balls remaining.

It was Westhoughton’s second successive win, and they have at least found some form late in what has been a disappointing season. They could still realistically finish fifth with two rounds remaining.

“We got a half decent start, and then Chesney’s absolutely destroyed it,” said ex-skipper Rob Houghton, who opened the innings with two sixes in his 33.

“Chesney’s played a captain’s knock. He dictated the game, and you never thought he wasn’t going to win it. He made it look easy.

“On Bradshaw, which is 40 yards one side, you’re always in the game.”

Pakistani professional Khuram Shahzad, Niall Dunn, a second-team seamer for whom Houghton reserved particular praise, and Hughes all struck twice with the ball before openers Houghton and Matty Morris (23) shared 66 in 11.4 overs.

Left-handed Hughes and Shahzad (41 not out) then shared an unbroken 113 in only 10.1 overs for the second wicket, advancing from 83-2.

“Myself and Matty said, ‘If we’re going into the last 10 overs needing 10s-12s, we’ll have a chance with wickets in hand.

“Chesney’s in a real rich vein of form. He had a hundred the other week, and he’s definitely playing his best cricket now. He’s dynamite.

“He’s such a presence on the pitch. The bowlers know what a good player he is, and it’s almost as if they’re saying, ‘What do we do, how are we going to get him out?’

“When it’s going well for him, you’re not going to. It’s simple.

“He’s a top-drawer player.”

Westhoughton have had a frustrating season, be it results wise and through injury and availability.

On Saturday, they were missing new-ball pair Kieran Edwards and Rob Brown as well as new signing James Cox and Mark Atherton, who has taken over as captain. All were injured.

Houghton said: “I stepped down about four weeks ago. I felt it was time to let someone else have a go. Chesney did it initially and then Mark took over. But he’s injured. So Ches is doing it again.”

Even if the Howfeners add to recent wins against Adlington and Bradshaw during the final fortnight, Houghton insists that will not paper over any cracks ahead of next season.

“As a first-team squad, we’re planning to sit down and have a chat to see what we all think and how we improve going forwards.

“Everyone’s been quite realistic in the sense that we’ve not been as good as we should have been.”

Recruitment plans for 2020 have yet to be finalised, but it is clear Hughes is someone Westhoughton would like to keep.

Houghton added: “The way he’s playing, I reckon every club in the North West would want him.”