Jameel Stuart’s brilliant 161 in victory over Kearsley on Sunday may have been the obvious feature of a winning weekend for Farnworth Social Circle - but there were two other significant achievements which will have flown under the radar.

Social Circle claimed two wins on Saturday and Sunday, beating Salesbury at home and Kearsley away, moving sixth in the Anthony Axford North West Cricket League’s Premiership with six victories in 10 matches.

Their win against Salisbury came by seven wickets chasing a revised target of 96. New-ball seamer Dave Mather claimed five wickets and Stuart four with his off-spinners.

The victory over Kearsley the following day proved to be one of the NWCL’s most eye-catching fixtures so far in 2024.

They won by 177 runs on the back of a 45-over total of 316-7, the highest of the summer so far. It was underpinned by Bajan professional Stuart’s 161 off 104 balls with 12 fours and 11 sixes before he struck three times with the ball to support another Mather ‘five-for’.

However, scratch the surface and two more contributions are worthy of note.

Captain Chris Lane explained: “We’ve managed to get two young lads, a 13 and a 15-year-old, their first first-team wickets.

“Cameron (Murray) and Jono (Bird) would come hard at us early, and they were 40-0 after four. But once Mather removed both of them, it gave us a bit of freedom.

“We bowled Josh French, who is 13, and Rehan Sherzad at 15.

“We were missing a few this weekend, and they’ve stepped in, had a bowl and done well.”

Stuart’s innings was clearly more important in the short-term, but the performances of French and Sherzad indicate a continued determination at Social Circle to promote youth.

“Very much so,” continued Lane. “They’re the future of the club.

“We’ve invested over the years in our junior section immensely, and it’s shown over the last 15-20 years.

“Josh Bohannon and Haseeb Hameed are the notable ones, but we’ve still got four or five lads in Lancashire’s junior set-up.

“It’s good to see we can bring lads through who will hopefully play for us for a long time and maybe higher as well.”

Stuart combines his on-field duties at Social Circle with junior coaching, both at the club and away from Piggott Park.

“I’ve played with Jameel as a team-mate for the last three years and now as his captain, and he’s tremendous,” said Lane, a 28-year-old who was in the same age-group teams as Bohannon and Hameed.

“Jameel demands the highest standard of every single player on the pitch, which is what you want.

“He also coaches the kids, not just at Social but at other clubs as well. He’s helped them all develop. He’s a proper professional.”

Lane saved some praise for seamer Mather, who started the season with a remarkable 10-19 against Ribblesdale Wanderers in early May and claimed 10 wickets combined across the two weekend matches just gone: “He’s just a top bowler,” said the skipper.

Reflecting on the weekend wins, he continued: “Playing against two teams above us, to take 24 points made it a top weekend.

“The wet weather hasn’t allowed for good wickets.

“The wicket on Saturday at Social was much better than (Salesbury’s) 104 all out, and Sunday’s was a very good one again.

“The weather’s picked up, and it’s shown with some totals across the weekend. That’s allowed Jameel to come into his own because he probably hits the ball further than anyone else in the league.”

Lane grew up at Social Circle from the age of six but spent five years at Astley Bridge before returning home three years ago. He took on the captaincy at the start of this summer.

“It’s been challenging but enjoyable,” he said, before assessing his side’s first half of the season and talking about their aims through until the end of September.

Ahead of tomorrow’s reverse fixture with Kearsley, at home, Lane added: “Anyone can beat anyone. Blackrod getting beat for the first time on Sunday showed that.

“We’ve faltered a couple of times this year. We lost to Padiham early on and then capitulated at Little Lever. But we’ve got a very decent bowling side and some batters coming into form.

“We lost five players in the winter, which was always going to be hard to replace over one season.

“The aim at the start was top four and to get into the Lancs Knockout again and kick on from there. We’ll just aim to win as many games as we can and see where that takes us at the back end of the season.

“But our seconds are still top of the league (Conference Premier), which shows we’re not just a club focused solely on one team.”

Tomorrow’s fixtures: Premiership - Astley Bridge v Farnworth, Blackrod v Tonge, Eagley v Ribblesdale Wanderers, Farnworth Social Circle v Kearsley, Padiham v Lostock, Salesbury v Little Lever; Championship - Baxenden v Walkden, Brinscall v Atherton, Eagley v Cherry Tree, Read v Oswaldtwistle Immanuel, Whalley v Feniscowles.