Westgate's title success very much poetic justice
After another rain-lashed season, it was almost poetic justice that Westgate should secure the Championship of The Westmorland Cricket League (WCL) in damp squib fashion.
After torrential rain, their final match at Arnside was abandoned without a ball bowled. Had Arnside taken all 15 points in that final encounter, they would have claimed The Bateman Shield.
After a tenacious season, the men from Morecambe were not for objecting to the decision. Back in 2001, in virtually the same scenario, they were robbed of the championship. Needing just 28 to win with eight wickets in hand, a cloudburst ended the game, thus gifting the crown to Arnside. Poetic justice indeed.
Normally the end of season banner headline lauds the champs but this season has not ended normally. Next year Burneside will be playing second division cricket for the first time since 1960.
Burneside are the embodiment of the WCL itself. Their achievements are legion. Their 35 championships include a double hat-trick (1907-12), a triple hat-trick (1968-76) and four on the trot (1981-84).
However, since their last success in 1997, it has been a story of decline and now fall. Aficionados just can’t believe it. Ellergreen Park is a county ground. A revival of the great club is essential to the future of the WCL.
Fellow demotees Ambleside had another dismal season, and the question has to be can they hold on to their one starred player, Oli Wileman?
The failure of Shireshead and Forton to seal a hat-trick of championships proves just how hard it is to do, but they have at least emulated their daunting team of 1989-90.
Missing out is down to two main reasons. The incomparable Peter Wilson missed the majority of the season, and he wins several matches solo. Arch rivals Westgate outdid them in the big head-to-head battles against the top teams, including their crucial late August face-off, which the Morecambe men comfortably won.
In that match, Westgate’s player of the season Garry Tattersall shone with bat and ball. After years of playing below the radar he is now a go-to performer in a team of musketeers.
Delighted captain Andy Hill will also be very pleased to see the young Buchanan brothers’ progression.
Captain Paul Yates at Shireshead will take many positives from the season.
Brothers Nick and James Rafferty out stood, and in Rowan Upton and Joe Cunliffe, the club has two envied youngsters, but finishing second will disappoint.
In what was a nip and tuck season, Arnside will rue the way they blew hot and cold as evinced in two mid-season games. Against Burneside it was a hot sirocco wind that blew them to 260-9. The following week, the cold mistral saw them blown over for 55 against Windermere. Sam Mackenzie scored a ton in the Burneside win, and, as ever, Adam Richardson wielded the willow to great effect.
The other pre-season hopefuls were Warton, but all is not well at The Hyning. In short they have lost too many players. A second team has been hard to service, and the once buzzing junior set-up is no more.
Just as the WCL needs a strong Burneside it also needs a strong Warton, a first division club since 1959, which is a longevity record.
For the first time in some time, Windermere, under captain Matthew Park, looked a more compact and competitive side. Matt and brother James had good seasons, as did Sam Fletcher. It is a young and bonding team at Queens Park and one to look out for next year.
As for the rest, Milnthorpe were bottom at the half way stage but that had to turn round, which it did. Six wins in eight games did the trick.
And in James Parkinson, the club has a fast bowler who will become feared now unshackled of ECB restrictions.
A purple patch also saw Silverdale scramble up the table. After starting with four straight losses, a volte-face saw four straight wins, with seasoned bowler Paul Moffatt to the fore. Paul is of the old school and a remarkably consistent bowler. The green top wickets of 2016 are his food and drink.
Darren Nelson saw to it that Carnforth’s return to division one was more than satisfactory. The club is 150 years old next year, and with the acquisition of a couple of quality players, they could make a title challenge.
At Heysham it seemed as if all-rounder Andy Powers held the team together. Against the champions he hit 64 and took 5-37 only to end up on the losing side. That’s life Andy.