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2016 Cricket Review
Tuesday 24th January 2017 @ 14:32 by Mark Phillip

In many respects, 2016 marked the beginning of a new chapter for most of our cricket teams.

Following years of consultation and careful planning, plans to form a Greater Manchester Cricket League and Pennine Cricket League finally materialised last summer.

Despite initially receiving mixed responses, the two leagues saw a huge uptake of clubs, which included no less than eight of our featured sides.

Based on strict criteria, Denton St Lawrence, Denton West and Glossop were assigned places in the Greater Manchester Premier Division, while Dukinfield had to settle for a place in Division One.

Flowery Field and Denton – who both secured promotion at the first time of asking – were placed in Division Two, while many of our second XI featured in Division Three and below.

Upon announcing their intention to join the league, former Denton West chairman and web administrator, Simon Lowndes, told Reporter Sport: “I’ve been involved in league cricket for a long time, but I think the time has come to introduce some tougher competition and improve the level we’re playing at.”

Prior to last season, Denton West had accumulated more silverware than any other club during their 21 year spell in the Lancashire County League.

However, Simon – a GMCL Steering Group member – was more than prepared to shift the gears. He added: “We’ll be playing against better teams next season, but we’re quite prepared to give up winning trophies for a better standard of cricket.

“We knew what our players wanted in terms of better competition, so the committee made a decision based upon that.”

A bold decision indeed, but one which has proved beneficial to everyone involved with the club.

West finished their inaugural season in Premier Division in fifth spot, while also winning the Lancashire Knockout Cup for the second time in 40 years after beating Farnworth by four wickets in a nail biting final at Middleton CC in September.

Following the momentous victory, chairman Paul Carter spoke of his delight with his club’s success – especially as they came up against some big clubs along the way. “The victory is massive,” Paul revealed.

“We are a small provincial amateur cricket club that has always done pretty well in the league we’ve played in and qualified for the Lancashire knockout.

“But to win it this year and to beat the teams we’ve beaten along the way, Ormskirk in the quarter-final was a massive victory and Burnley came to us in the semi-final and we beat them.

“We weren’t lucky we played really well in both games and then to play Farnworth in the final, who won it six years ago, so they’ve had recent history in this competition, shows they are are no mugs.”

Denton St Lawrence, who were boosted with the addition of England PD player Jordan Williams, finished the season in 6th spot while Glossop ended their campaign in 7th.

Captained by Will Hargreaves, the North Road outfit were expected to challenge at the top of the table, but a mixture of inconsistent performances and postponements put paid to any title ambitions.

The club did, however, host a customary selection of county games, including a T20 day between Derbyshire and Lancashire’s 2nd XI.

Dukinfield staved off an immediate relegation during their first stint in Division One by ending the campaign in eighth spot.

Along with Denton West, the two clubs who made the biggest impact this season were Denton and Flowery Field, who both secured promotion to Division One at the first time of asking.

As far as Denton’s first team is concerned, the memorable season put an end to many years without silverware at Egerton Street.

In a bid to make an immediate impact in Division One next season, the club has signed last season’s professional batsmen, South African Cloete Buitendag, as well as Adam Hayes and Keegan Taylor.

Meanwhile, Flowery Field have signed Australian batsmen Alex Dolly who joins from North Sydney Cricket Club.

Ashton Ladysmith were unable to recreate the form shown during their Calverley Cup victory in 2015 throughout their first stint in the Division 4 East.

The first team finished their inaugural season in 8th spot.

Ashton and Stayley enjoyed their first stint in the Pennine Cricket League Championship Division, as the latter ended the season in first spot, thus claiming promotion to the Premier Division, while Ashton reached the Tanner Cup Final and just missed out on a playoff spot.

Ashton’s defeat to Crompton in the final extended the club’s trophy less run to 21 years.

Turning their attention to the forthcoming season, the club has entered an exciting new arrangement with the Greater Manchester Sports Partnership which has agreed to meet the cost of membership for new junior members and additionally provide them with free coaching and some free kit.

This opportunity is available for new junior members who attend the Saturday afternoon sessions.

Club Vice Chair, Paul Adshead commented: “At Reyner Lane we know that putting in the effort with juniors pays real dividends.

“But we also know that it’s important to make it as easy as possible for juniors to join in.

“The GMSP have been really helpful in making this possible”

Those interested in joining the club can turn up to West Hill School for junior practice on Saturday afternoon from 2-4pm.

Alternatively for more details contact the club at [email protected]

In the ECB Cheshire County League Premier Division, Hyde were unable to claim a third consecutive title, instead finishing the season in third spot.

However, the first team made amends by claiming the Cheshire Cup with a comprehensive victory over Elworth.

Hyde were also fortunate enough to host an England PCA Masters fixture at Werneth Low on Friday, August 19, where legends including Mark Ramprakash, Phil Defreitas and Steve Harmison featured for the legends.