Tonge are aiming high this season, and you can see why after Saturday’s 70-run home win over Kearsley in the Peter Stafford Trophy.

New captain Alex Rodzoch was a happy man after playing his part in a clinical defence of a 152 target, taking four wickets in seven miserly overs of seamers.

Premiership side Kearsley, in reply to 151-7 in 40 overs, were shot out for just 81 inside 31.

Heading into yesterday’s final round of group fixtures - Tonge hosted Walkden - they were top of Pool 2 in the race for the quarter-finals.

“I said to the lads afterwards, ‘As much as it’s a great feeling to win like that and gives us all a big boost, it also sends a message to the rest of the league’,” revealed all-rounder Rodzoch.

“Our main focus is the league (Association) and promotion.

“After a couple of seasons of building a strong side which people can see, we want to give it a really good go this year.

“We’ve been lucky in the Stafford Trophy in that we’ve been drawn against two of the best sides we’ll play all season, Kearsley and Walkden, and there’s no real pressure on us.

“We can express ourselves and see what we’re capable of.

“Each year for the past three, we’ve been progressing, and we narrowly missed out on promotion last year. Our main goal is to go up having won the league. That would be a bit of a dream.” 

All-rounder Nasser Ahmed led the way at Castle Hill on Saturday, top-scoring with 57 not out off 64 balls, including two sixes, and then taking 3-10 from 7.1 overs of seam. Professional Tilaksha Malshan also chipped in with three wickets.

“Nasser was outstanding, as much as he tries to play it down. He’s one of the most relaxed people you’ll ever come across!” said Rodzoch.

“He’s taken everything in his stride, and he’s led us more so from a batting point of view because we lost wickets pretty regularly.”

Rodzoch has captained Tonge previously as a stand-in, but this was his first win as permanent skipper having replaced Danny Delvard, who is now team manager.

“There’s was definitely a big sense of pride in that win,” he admitted.

“Danny’s our manager and a part-time player when needed. 

“That’s really good to have his experience and advice on hand. We work well together.

“It feels like I can make more of my own decisions with it, though. Danny is great, but I don’t necessarily have to go and run everything past him.”

Tonge have signed all-rounder Iqbal Malik and Rob Tully for 2019.

“Rob is great to have around,” added Rodzoch, who is playing alongside older brother Adam.

“He’s a Tonge lad who has been keen to play having been watching from the sidelines for the last season and a half. He’s taken his chance and is a breath of fresh air.”

Tonge open their league campaign at Golborne on Saturday.