St Annes tighten title grip

Pictures Martin Bostock'Fleetwood v Blackpool cricket action. 'Andrew Furniss for Blackpool.
Pictures Martin Bostock'Fleetwood v Blackpool cricket action. 'Andrew Furniss for Blackpool.

St Annes CC took a firm grip on the Northern Premier Cricket League title race as deputy professional Qaiser Abbas had an inspired afternoon against Carnforth yesterday.

The Todmorden professional was the hero as Andy Kellett’s side recovered from their four-run defeat at Blackpool on Saturday to win by eight wickets.

Deputising for prolific spinner Dinuka Hettiarachchi, who is back home in Sri Lanka after his wife gave birth to their third child, Abbas weaved a magical spell of slow left-arm bowling to take 7-37 off 19.4 overs, with only Carnforth pro Gareth Pedder offering much resistance. as the visitors were all out for 115 in 46.4 overs.

Pedder struck 47 off 54 balls, including seven fours and one six, before he was bowled by Atiq Uz-Zaman.

Former Carnforth batsman Atiq then hit an unbeaten 50 off 69 balls to move onto 974 runs for the season.

And after Pedder took two wickets, Abbas supplied the fireworks, blasting an unbeaten 51 off 29 balls with seven fours and two sixes as St Annes needed only 22.2 overs before celebrating an important victory at 5.10pm

It enabled St Annes to stretch their lead to 18 points with two games to play after defending champions Leyland finished four runs short of victory at Barrow and third-placed Chorley were frustrated by the weather at Darwen.

Leyland slumped to 32-5 at Ernest Pass, chasing a target of 141-8 and were left needing a six off the final ball, but pro Brett Pelser could only manage two.

Blackpool and their fast bowler Richard Gleeson completed a highly successful derby weekend as they followed their victory over the leaders with a 25-run victory at Fleetwood yesterday.

Paul Danson’s side have climbed to fifth and will be hopeful of a top-four finish with a game in hand over fourth-placed Netherfield.

Gleeson backed up his match-winning 6-53 against St Annes with a brilliant spell of 7-28 to reach 50 wickets for the third successive season.

Blackpool reached 108-8 off 37 overs in a rain-reduced game. Andy Furniss made 31 and Gleeson 28, while Adam Parker claimed 4-53 and Sam Bell 3-51.

Despite 36 from former Norcross batsman Steve Wright, Fleetwood were all out for 83 with seven balls remaining, Gleeson claiming the vital wicket of Parker lbw without scoring. Steven Mercer claimed two more wickets and now has 52 for the season.

Blackpool did the double over Fleetwood as they also won the second XI match at Stanley Park, Adrian Darlington making 47 as his side passed Fleetwood’s 159-8 with five wickets in hand. Andy Singleton hit 64 for Fleetwood and Ross Parker took 5-63.

n LYTHAM CC achieved their long-awaited return to winning ways at Highfield, with a two-wicket win in the Liverpool Competition.

The hosts set a competitive target o 168-6 from 57 overs as opener Michael Farrell made 53 and Simon Mollitt 44. There were two wickets apiece for Faz Ughradar and Joe Davies.

Lytham then defied the outstanding bowling of Chris Liptrot (6-75 off 18.5 overs) to reach their target in 36.5 overs, Nick Knight top-scoring with 39.