Garstang skipper hails Oosthuysen’s contribution

Mark Walling leads Garstang against Rufford this weekend
Mark Walling leads Garstang against Rufford this weekend

Garstang skipper Mark Walling warmed up for a possible return to action on Saturday by praising the displays of Coen Oosthuysen.

The 19-year-old South African off-spinner has made an instant impression at the Riverside this season in helping Garstang to the top of the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division.

The teenager heads the list of Garstang’s wicket takers this season with 20 so far at an average of 14, a strike rate of 30.55 and an economy rate of 2.75 for good measure.

He played a key role in their victory against Longridge, a point acknowledged by Walling in addition to his opposite number at Longridge, Kyle Helm.

“Coen has really made a difference so far this season,” Walling said.

“He is one of the main reasons why we have had the start we have had along with the batting displays we have put in so far.”

In common with the rest of the division last weekend, Garstang’s Palace Shield game fell victim to Saturday’s showers with their match at Thornton Cleveleys abandoned.

The two points keep Walling’s players a point ahead of Longridge at the top after six wins and a defeat from their eight games.

They are back at the Riverside on Saturday, looking for their seventh victory of the season.

On paper they will be clear favourites to take victory against a newly-promoted Rufford side presently sitting second bottom of the table.

Rufford had finished the 2016 season fourth in the Palace Shield First Division season but gained the second promotion place after finishing behind the second XIs representing Garstang and Longridge.

Having made the step up, they lost their first six matches before registering their first win with a 24-run victory against Freckleton a week-and-a-half ago.