Bowling proving key for Croston and Longridge at Palace Shield summit
Croston and Longridge are battling for pole position at the top of the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield with the help of strong bowling.
The two clubs have been racking up bowling bonus points – Croston have 20 and Longridge 17.
However, both can claim just a single batting point, which is on a par with bottom club Torrisholme.
Croston hold a three-point lead at the summit and go to Factory Lane tomorrow to face Vernon Carus.
There is a home game for Longridge, who face Thornton Cleveleys.
Longridge fast bowler Ian Simpson said: “We need to play to our strongest suit and that’s our bowling.
“We always look to bowl second because it’s our strength, especially at home, where we know we can defend totals.”
Attempts are being made by Longridge to improve their batting so that they do not have to lean as heavily on taking wickets.
Last year’s skipper Kyle Helm got a first-team recall last week after some strong displays in the seconds.
He responded by hitting 42 in the win over Eccleston.
That victory formed part of a double-header against Eccleston, with Longridge also beating them the next day in the Meyler Cup.
Assessing the batting displays, Simpson said: “That’s what we can’t get our heads around because Longridge is a good cricket wicket.
“We have a good changing room and, while we win as a team, we lose as a team as well.
“We’ve seen that, with Kyle Helm scoring a century for the seconds the other week and a few other lads in the runs, we have some strength in depth.
“If some of the lads have to drop into the seconds – which is a good standard of cricket – there is no losing face.
“I wouldn’t say we have set the world on fire with our batting but we’re still there or thereabouts so we’re still doing something right.
“What we have to do is take it one game at a time and play each game on its merits.”
Lancaster are tucked in behind Longridge in third place.
They face Great Eccleston at Lune Road tomorrow.
Fourth-place Eccleston host New Longton, who sit just below them in the table.
Penwortham welcome South Shore to Middleforth Green, while Torrisholme go up the M6 to Kendal.
Meanwhile, Kirkham and Wesham’s Derek Tucker is the new holder of the Palace Shield’s batting record.
Tucker struck 218 for the seconds in their Division Six visit to Tarleton thirds.
He hit 20 fours and 16 sixes when opening the batting, the mammoth knock helping Kirkham and Wesham post 311-3 declared.
Tucker’s effort beat the unbeaten 214 which Chris Flintoff hit in 1997 for Dutton Forshaw.