EAGLEY professional Ryan Ayres starred with a stunning eight-wicket haul and 39 not out to inspire a crucial home victory over Darcy Lever on Saturday, leading to praise of the highest order from his captain Jack Wainman.

“Ryan’s performance was as good as I’ve seen,” said wicketkeeper batsman Wainman. “He was different class with the ball and played really well with the bat.

“He’s like a young Freddie Flintoff at the moment.”

With England Cricket all the rage at present, it was a timely comparison.

A side that has just won their first World Cup, England are preparing for the start of the Ashes next month, a series which Lancashire legend Flintoff made his own in 2005 in particular.

Eagley, like England, are chasing success this summer.

Saturday’s win, by five wickets with 19.4 overs to spare in pursuit of 109, maintains their hopes of promotion from the Association Division.

They sit third in the table with six wins and three defeats from their 11 games.

They are now just one point behind second-placed Heaton, who were narrowly beaten at home by Blackrod. On Saturday, they travel to face league leaders Atherton and also travel to Heaton in a blockbuster clash on August 17.

But Wainman is refusing to get drawn into talk of promotion and looking too far ahead.

He said: “We just have to keep winning and take it week by week. As long as we keep winning, I’m not really fussed about what anyone else does. We had a bad day last week against Astley Bridge, but we’re pretty confident if we keep going as we are we’ll be fine.”

Eagley’s win was their fourth in the last five games.

Rain reduced the clash to 40 overs per side, and Wainman won the toss and chose to bowl.

Seamer Ayres took the new ball and claimed 8-40 from 13.2 overs as Darcy were bowled out for 108 inside 28 overs, while Phil Ingram chipped in with 2-28 in a miserly 10-over spell.

In reply, Eagley lost openers Jake O’Byrne and Luis Seigne as the score slipped to 14-2, only for Will Shuttleworth and Ayres to share a calming 74 for the third wicket to all but seal a thumping victory.

Shuttleworth top-scored with three sixes in 61 off 41, while Ayres hit two sixes in his unbeaten 39.

“It was a swashbuckling win – absolutely outstanding,” added Wainman. “It had rained, but the track was fine. It played well, and we bowled really well. Will was superb as well after we’d lost those two early wickets.”

Ayres and Shuttleworth were winter signings from Farnworth Social Circle, with the latter returning to the club.

Ayres is now the Association’s leading wicket-taker with 29, while he is also in the top five leading run-scorers in the division with 269. Shuttleworth is above him with 308 runs.

Both men have also taken six catches to underline their importance to a side who are finding form at just the right time.