Garstang CC's recent wins are crucial for their title hopes

Mark Walling is happy enough with how his Garstang CC side has started the new Northern Premier Cricket League season.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 4:45 pm

Last Saturday’s win over Chorley was their third in four games in all competitions and saw them climb to fifth place in the early league table.

They are 17 points behind leaders Longridge, one of two sides to get the better of Walling’s players so far this season along with Blackpool.

The captain has previously spoken about how tight he thinks the league will be this year with teams feeling their way back into competitive cricket after a two-and-a-half week preparation as a result of the pandemic.

Garstang's Matt Crowther takes an acrobatic catch at the weekend Picture: Tim Gilbert/Preston Photographic Sociwty

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That wasn’t ideal but Garstang were also handed a tough start with the 2019 champions, Leyland, their opponents on the first day, since when they have also met some other in-form sides.

“We’ve played some of the top teams already this season,” he said.

“I think we’ve played the top three (Longridge, Netherfield and Blackpool) and Leyland, who were tipped to be a tough team this year but I think they have lost some of their players going into the season.

“We have to play everyone twice, so it’s just the way the fixtures have fallen and we can’t control that.

“We have won a few games though and winning the last couple has been crucial to get our season going because we can’t let the teams at the top get too far away.”

Garstang now face a double-header in league and cup over the Bank Holiday weekend.

First up is a trip to St Annes on Saturday, followed by a quick rematch with Chorley in the semi-final of the league’s 40-over competition 24 hours later.

They had posted an 80-run defeat of Chorley at the Riverside last weekend as their bowlers shone.

After Garstang had batted first and been dismissed for 151, the visitors were shot out for 71 midway through the 25th over of their reply.

Garstang’s efforts in reaching the score they did came in the face of an exceptional bowling performance from Chorley’s James Lee.

He ended with figures of 8-32 from 12.4 overs with Siddesh Lad (1-17) and Keiran McCullagh (1-16) picking up the other wickets to fall.

Michael Wellings top-scored for Garstang with 35 before their middle and lower order batters fell cheaply.

McCullagh struck a defiant 26 down the order in reply but Chorley had no answer to the Garstang bowling, Ian Walling leading the way with figures of 4-23.

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