Geoff Earle is confident his Lostock side can better successive eighth placed finishes in the Bolton League’s Premiership and back up last season’s run to the T20 final.

Lostock claimed their first win of the season against Blackrod on Saturday, by nine wickets in the Peter Stafford Trophy to put them on course for the quarter-finals ahead of yesterday’s final Pool Five clash at Eagley.

They bowled their Association visitors out for 161 inside 39 overs, with new ball duo Dave Flanagan (4-32) and Adam Syddall sharing six wickets.

With the bat, top three Harry Stockton (44) and Connor Hicklin and professional Brad Williamson, who hit 52 not out apiece, completed the win inside 28 overs.

“It’s a pleasing start, and we played some very good cricket,” said Earle.

“We got to the final of the Twenty20 last year, but we were a bit disappointed with how the league campaign went even though we were happy to stay up.

“There were plenty of promising signs on Saturday, and we made it look quite routine. But there are a few areas we need to sharpen up on as well.

“We dropped a few catches, which could cost us when it gets into the league campaign. But we batted well.”

Earle and co have brought in Minor Counties seamer Syddall (2-13 from eight overs) from Edgworth, wicketkeeper James Evans from Clifton and Joe Leeming from Daisy Hill. All-rounder Matt Leach is also available again having missed last season through other commitments.

“We have strengthened, so our hope is to push up the league,” said the skipper. 
“We need to start showing progress. 

“We’ve had a few good results in friendlies already, and we carried that into Saturday.

“We’re really keen to do well in the cup competitions as well, including this Stafford Trophy. 

“They’re important. We feel we have a squad to challenge for the Twenty20 title again, 100 percent.”

The confidence comes from having all bases covered. The Blackrod game proved that.

It is likely that Flanagan and Syddall will take the new ball more often than not.

Earle said: “A lot will depend on conditions at different grounds. 

“Tom Sheen took the new ball all last season, Rob Holgate is capable of taking it as well.

“We’re very happy we have a strong bowling attack this season.

“You have to be able to take wickets right throughout an innings, especially with the standard of pros and the depth in batting in the league.

“If you can’t take wickets, you’re going to end up struggling towards the back end when teams want to go big.

“If something’s not working, we have plenty of people we can throw the ball to.

“Historically, bowling has been our strength, and we’ve worked hard on our fielding. 

“That’s why I was disappointed with the catches we dropped.

“But we chased the target with more than 10 overs to spare, and we’ve batted well so far this season apart from at Leyland in the National Knockout last Sunday.

“We feel like we’re heading in the right direction.”

Lostock next travel to champions Walkden this Saturday.