Westmorland Cricket League: Vintage campaign set for a compelling climax

Rowan Upton
Rowan Upton
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As the Westmorland Cricket League enters its second phase of the season the prospect is compelling.

It is proving to be a vintage campaign and the most exciting in years.

Andy Hill

Andy Hill

The return to the WCL of quality players from the Northern League is one factor. The progress of young players is another. Dog is also eating dog.

Can Shireshead and Forton defend their title is the big question in the face of intense pressure from the pack just below? Probably but not definitely is the answer.

Had injury not curtailed James Rafferty’s season the answer would have been yes.

Shireshead sport a super team with established stars and an excellent captain in Paul Yates, but it is players from their famed youth section that are catching the eye, notably Rowan Upton who is proving a sensation.

Controlled leg spin is a difficult art and especially impressive in a teenager.

From that famed academy the return of Tom Jacques after a lengthy absence completes a team with no obvious weak link.

Arnside were the expected main threat to Shireshead with Adam Cowperthwaite and Lee Illingworth sharpening their cutting edge.

But when you lose three of the first five games it’s always going to be catch-up cricket. As a group they will be a tad disappointed.

Milnthorpe are in good shape and in good hands.

Steve Bowman’s re-appointment as captain has given zest t o a team which lost key players. As a group his team will be more than a tad delighted with their season. It would be a knighthood were he to repeat the glory days of 2003.

Realistically it looks as though the old protagonists of Westgate and Warton are the only two clubs with the wherewithal to deprive Shires.

They too have captains in Andrew Hill and Gareth Finney capable of tactical plotting and match winners in their ranks.

Westgate are getting the very best out of Dylan Conroy and Garry Tattersall is doing it with ball.

In Ryan Nelson, Warton have the best of the young all rounders. Graham Crowther and Steven Beck are a handful for batsmen.

With 150 points still to play for it is not beyond the realms of possibility for Heysham to finish in their highest position for years.

Andy Powers, Andrew Ideson, Sam Calverley, Graham Cassidy and James Whincup can all come up with the goods.

There will be relief at Ellergreen Park that Burneside are not repeating their dire season of last year.

With bat Robert Davies and with ball Chris Dixon have risen to the surface.

Windermere continue to infuriate their supporters by losing matches they should win. But with Nick Lewthwaite back in harness and players like Ollie Kilner and Sam Fletcher with real potential the future looks brighter.

With plans in the pipeline to take a month out of the 2016 first division season three teams are scheduled for demotion, not two.

It’s a near certainty that Ambleside, Sedgwick and Bare can prepare for Division Two cricket.

The old adage that a team is only as good as its players holds true and all three clubs are ill equipped for the strength of current first division cricket.

Silverdale look to have extricated themselves from the trap with Jon Mason, Paul Moffatt, Jack Hargreaves and Steven Creed all contributing.