Martin Eccles believes he’s captaining one of Eagley’s best bowling attacks in the last two decades and reckons they can catch runaway Premiership leaders Little Lever in the Anthony Axford North West Cricket League, writes Graham Hardcastle.

“If we carry the way we are, it’s hard to say ‘No’ given the performances we’ve had,” said Eccles of his side’s title chances after winning at struggling Brinscall on Saturday - by seven wickets chasing 131.

Eagley are third with six wins from nine, 19 points behind Little Lever with them still to play at home next month.

“I’ve played at Eagley for 20 years and have been fortunate enough to play with some really good bowlers - Steve Foster and Phil Ingram are two,” continued Eccles.

“But, in terms of the bowling unit we have now, it’s unbelievable. It’s up there with the best in my time.

“There’s seven bowlers who I have no issue throwing the ball to in any situation. There’s lads in this game who didn’t get a bowl who’ve been bowling really well.”

The Eagles are flying having won nine of their last 11 matches in all competitions.

This one was achieved through Pakistani professional Ayaz Tasawar’s outstanding all-round contribution.

He claimed 5-30 from 13.4 overs of leg-spin as Brinscall, whose pro Jon Hinrichsen was given out obstructing the field for 26, were bowled out for 130 at School Lane having elected to bat.

Left-handed Tasawar then steered the chase from 14-3 with a measured unbeaten 55 off 82 balls, sharing an unbroken 117 with Will Shuttleworth (41).

“Ayaz (502 runs and 34 wickets in all cricket) is a great player,” said Eccles.

“We knew about him having played at Westhoughton last season.

“We were very keen to get a good pro this year because we have a talented group of young lads who just need that guidance. He can perform week in and week out, and they can play around him.

“It’s good to know from 12-2, we have him coming in. I felt really confident.

“You’re heavily reliant on your pro. All clubs are, really. But the beauty of this season is that the other lads are chipping in. It’s somebody different every week.

“Will Shutt here with a great 40-odd, a couple of weeks ago we had Oscar Smith at 16 putting on a hundred partnership with the pro. Harvey Seigne has also been doing well.”

A feature of Eagley’s cricket this year has been their ability to bowl well and then chase lowish totals.

“No one has got away from us when we’ve bowled first,” said Eccles, before talking specifically about the Brinscall chase.

“If we’d been on a losing streak, at 14-3 you’d maybe think, ‘Oh no, we’re here again’. But confidence is flowing, and we’re playing fearless cricket.”

Amidst praising a number of youngsters, Eccles picked out 15-year-old left-arm spinner Luca Doyle, who has claimed 14 league wickets, though none in seven overs on Saturday: “His attitude is fantastic. He’s so calm, and he knows his game inside and out,” he said.

This is Eccles’ first season in charge, and he’s loving it.

“I’m 42, and captaincy was something I wanted to do before I hang them up,” he added. “The opportunity came up this year, and I’ve picked one of the better seasons to do it!”