JESSE Dinnie believes Atherton’s impressive Peter Stafford Trophy form over the last season and a half says a lot about his team.

Last year’s finalists are into the last four again after a high-scoring victory at Little Lever on Sunday.

Australian captain Dinnie was at the crease when a seven-wicket win, with 5.1 overs to spare, was secured chasing a target of 208 in 27 overs following a rain-delayed start at Victory Road.

Atherton survived a blistering century from Little Lever’s Pakistani professional Awais Zia, who smashed nine sixes in a 69-ball 114 to underpin 207-3.

But the visitors’ pro, Sri Lankan Manelka de Silva, was instrumental, hitting 79 off 54 from the top of the order.

He shared in a superb 160-run partnership for the second wicket inside 17 overs with Australian overseas amateur Haseeb Qureshi, who top-scored with 80 off 53, hitting five sixes.

Both men fell with less than 40 needed, but Atherton never looked like faltering.

“This competition is a different style of cricket,” said Dinnie, whose side advance alongside Farnworth, Bradshaw and Horwich.

“You have to come up with a minimum of five bowlers, so it’s a bit more of a team game than the league.

“In that you can see the pro and only a couple of others do it for some teams every week. In this, all your boys have to step up.

“We started quite slowly last year in this competition.

“We lost our first game and maybe got a bit lucky. But this year, we’ve started like a house on fire.”

Atherton are top of the Association division with three wins from three and are also into the second round of the Hamer Cup on June 16, having knocked out Lostock last weekend.

On Sunday’s game, Dinnie said: “Little Lever batted well, but we came off very positive.

“With the short boundaries, a shortened game and using an orange ball from each end – they stayed hard – we felt they were a bit under par.

“It was tough conditions for bowling. Mis-hits were going for six and good balls for four.

“Both sides had a bit of luck with the bat, but we ran really well between the wickets.”

Dinnie was happy with their bowling performance, reserving particular praise for seamers Qureshi and Ellis Mort, who conceded only 29 in their six overs, and Danny Hughes (2-32 from five): “They were unreal,” he said.

Dinnie usually opens the batting, but he dropped down to four and promoted pro de Silva. And he united superbly with 25-year-old Melburnian Qureshi.

“It’s Haseeb’s first year in England. He’s just finished university, and he wanted to get some back-to-back seasons going,” Dinnie added.

“He’s got family over here in Astley and Tyldesley, so it’s worked out well.

“Those two were outstanding. It was just smart batting. They didn’t take too many risks. The ball was that hard that if you hit the gap it was four. With no risk, you can go at 10 an over.”

The Stafford Trophy semi-finals are scheduled for June 9, but that is the day Horwich and Bradshaw are due to play in the third round of the ECB National Club Championship.