Lancaster’s bowlers need batsmen to fire

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Runs are the vital commodity for Lancaster if they are to push on and have a successful season in the Northern League – that is the view of captain Jamie Heywood.

The men from Lune Road finished in runners-up position last year, but after the first couple of months of this summer they find themselves third from bottom in the table.

Admittedly, they benefited last season from the abilities of Indian pro Atharva Taide, who topped the batting and bowling averages at the end of the season.

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Interestingly, Taide was joined at the top of the bowling statistics by his skipper Ben Simm and Liam Moffat, who took 61 wickets for Morecambe.

Irfan Khan struck 76 in Lancaster CC's weekend defeat Picture: Tony NorthIrfan Khan struck 76 in Lancaster CC's weekend defeat Picture: Tony North
Irfan Khan struck 76 in Lancaster CC's weekend defeat Picture: Tony North

Moffat moved to Lune Road over the winter following Morecambe relegation and this season he and Simm – who stepped away from the captaincy ahead of this season – have shown that they have lost none of their potency with the ball by taking 41 wickets between them already.

Heywood believes his attack is as good as anything in the division, but his batsmen must give them something to defend.

“A couple of weeks ago, we played St Annes and I personally believes they are one of the best sides in the league,” said Heywood.

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“They have got a great professional in Yohan De Silva, Lukman Vahaluwala is very good, they have got some great amateurs in Tom Higson and Harry Birkman, but we absolutely taught them a lesson.

"That was just because we got 180-odd on the board, which is something we haven't really done.

"We put a score on the board and then bowled and field superbly. I haven’t really got a problem with our bowling.”

A lot depends on Pakistani professional Irfan Khan, who missed the first few weeks of the season due to work permit issues. He hit 76 last weekend off just 97 balls, and Heywood believes if the 19-year-old hits form over the coming weeks, then Lancaster will shoot up the table.

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"Last weekend Lancaster were 58-3 against Netherfield and Irfan was 51 not out,” said Heywood, who missed the game along with Liam and Kieran Moffat as they were all attending Liam’s wedding in Scotland.

"I think that tells you everything you need to know about his ball striking abilities. He will play for Pakistan, but I just think he needs to rein himself in a bit and just bat for 35/40 overs. If he does that he could get a double hundred easy because he’s so strong all around the ground.”

This weekend sees Lancaster travel to bottom side Vernon Carus, who are still searching for their first win after winning promotion from the Palace Shield last season.

"I feel a bit sorry for Vernons because we have been in that position here at Lancaster,” said Heywood.

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"We certainly won’t be going into this game thinking it’s going to be an easy game for us. I will be telling our lads that we have got to produce some really good cricket and hopefully that will be enough to see us get the win.”

Fixtures: Northern League: Fulwood & Broughton v Blackpool, Leyland v Kendal, Longridge v Chorley, Netherfield v Penrith, St Annes v Garstang, Vernon Carus v Lancaster.