Local Cricket Review 2016
Monday 19th September 2016 @ 08:45 by Mark Phillip

By Martin Frost

With 21 clubs sitting within the boundaries of Tameside and Glossop, plus more in the High Peak, there is little doubt that the area is a hotbed of league cricket. 2016 might have seen a few problems with the weather but competition has been fierce. and with a significant degree of success. Silverware in county competitions; a league title, and a series of promotions means that the season has been hugely successful locally.

2016 saw big changes in league cricket. Out went the Central Lancashire; Saddleworth and Lancashire County Leagues. The new structures put in place saw 8 of our Clubs enter the new Greater Manchester Cricket League with Ashton; Stayley and Micklehurst joining the Pennine League. The question was whether the new competitions would improve things. The jury is still out, and it will probably take 2 or three seasons until things settle down. The weather played its part, with frequent abandonments. Indeed Ashton lost 30% of their league programme to the elements. But, all in all, when play was possible the cricket on view gave much hope that the changes brought in will reap dividends in the future.

Pride of place locally must go Denton West. Despite finishing 5th in the GMCL Premiership they swept all before them in the Lancashire KO Cup. Claiming the notable scalps of Liverpool & District ECB Premier League outfit Ormskirk and Lancashire League Burnley on the way, they met Farnworth, (Bolton League) in the final at Middleton and came out on top In doing so they reclaimed the trophy first won in 1976, and did it without the services of overseas man Semila Seyibokwe. The South African had to return home early, but clearly made a real impact at Windsor Park and unquestionably had the single biggest performance of the season locally. In the local derby against rivals Denton St Lawrence Seyibokwe claimed 10-51. The silverware was a reward for a real all-round team performance.

Hyde, champions of the ECB Cheshire County League in 2014 and 2015, failed to make it three in a row, finishing 3rd, but made up for this disappointment with the Cheshire Cup. It was a comprehensive victory over Elworth, from the North Staffs and South Cheshire League in the final. On the way they overcame Grappenhall; Sale and old foes Chester Boughton Hall. There were contributions throughout the side, but James Duffy, with 1,217 runs, (including 8 fifties and 2 centuries), was a key contributor. Dave Fitzsimmons picked up over 800 runs, and with the ball Danny Cranmer had 73 wickets. Towards the end of the season Harry Dearden turned to the professional ranks, securing a contract with Leicestershire, and made his 1st class debut against Derbyshire.

Elsewhere in the GMCL, it was a successful campaign locally. Dukinfield flirted with relegation for large parts of the season, but maintained their Division 1 status with a couple of games to go. They were indebted to James McDougall, who accumulated 722 runs, amongst which were 2 centuries and 4 fifties. Pro Yohan de Silva arrived late courtesy of the stringent Home Office rules – something that many Clubs throughout the North West also fell foul of. With just over 500 runs he made an adequate contribution, but perhaps not as significant as the Higher King Street outfit would have wished for.

Things in GMCL Division 1 were really bright. Going into the last month of the season it was not inconceivable that Denton; Flowery Field and Droylsden would all gain promotion. As it turned out Droylsden missed out, finishing 5th, and in 2017 will remain in Division 2, but with no local derbies to look forward to. Denton had hopes of the title, and their form until early August suggested this was not beyond them. Overseas man Chloete Buitendag played a crucial role, but had to return home in mid August. By then he had amassed 764 runs, and with 34 victims had contributed effectively with the ball. His absence was a crucial factor as Stand eventually pipped Denton to the title, but the Egerton Street club will now look forward to competing at the higher level in 2017. The same can be said of Flowery Field who achieved promotion through an all round team performance, rather than individual match winning efforts.

The formation of the Pennine CL placed Ashton; Stayley and Micklehurst in the Championship division. Stayley’s performance was outstanding, and they were rewarded with promotion to the Premiership. Professional Hamza Nadeem was a key man – picking up 45 wickets at a miserly cost of 8 runs each. It will be interesting to see how the Oxford Street club adapt to the higher level next year. Ashton had their best season in many years, and efforts put into the junior section have certainly borne fruit. Fielding a team of 9 home grown players, Ashton reached the final of the Tanner Cup and despite succumbing to Premiership Crompton can be satisfied with a season which saw them end up in 4th place, and only just missing out on a chance of promotion through the play off game. The key to Ashton’s progress was the bowling with Brad Woolley, (50 victims), pro Chami Edirisinghe, (38) and newcomer Suhaib Khan, (36), probably the most potent attack in the Division.

Micklehurst toiled all season, eventually finishing at the foot of the table, but in a struggling side the performance of Jake Cauldwell, (41 victims and nearly 300 runs) was praiseworthy. The only sour note in the PCL season surrounded issues of discipline, with things brought to a head in the season closing game between Friarmere and Moorside. The umpires abandoned the game after 7 overs on the grounds of “player behaviour”. Clearly conduct on the field is something which will concentrate the minds of administrators this winter.
The race for the Derbyshire and Cheshire League title went to the last day. Broadbottom, Hawk Green and Dinting, (hoping to retain the title they captured in 2015), were all in the race. With a 3 point advantage Broadbottom held the upper hand knowing that a victory over Tintwistle would secure the trophy. The win was achieved leaving the Hill End Lane club title winners.

In Division 2 it was a season of consolidation locally, although Stalybridge St Pauls, in their first season after switching from the Cheshire Alliance, will be satisfied with a mid table spot.
So the season has drawn to a close. Undoubtedly Clubs are already planning for 2017 when the changes in the leagues set-up will have bedded in – hopefully the teething problems will have been ironed out. Cricket has a strong base in Tameside and Glossop – and one championship title; two county cups and three promotions at first team level in 2016 show that locally there is much to celebrate. It should also be remembered that the strength of cricket in the area is also underpinned by the seconds XI’s and junior set-ups at all our Clubs.