FARNWORTH picked up the first silverware of the Bolton League season when they won the Dixon Air Conditioning Twenty20 competition on Sunday. The Lavender Road men beat Kearsley by nine runs in the final in front of hundreds of spectators at a sun-drenched Westhoughton Cricket Club.
On a well-supported and competitive day of cricket which showed how the Twenty20 competition has taken off in the Bolton League over the last two years, Farnworth beat Horwich in the first semi-final in the morning before Kearsley knocked out the host club in the afternoon.
Horwich began the first semi with an opening partnership of 29 runs in less than five overs, but then lost both batsmen without adding to the score. Tom Billington and Fazil Hassan took the score to 64 in the 13th over, but the remainder of the team were unable to capitalise and the 20th over ended with a total of 96-8 on the scoreboard. Kamran Younas, who was to be the most influential player of the day, took 4-9 from his four overs. Farnworth took just over 17 overs to record a comfortable seven-wicket victory with Younas top scorer with 37.
By the afternoon there were several hundred spectators on the ground, as Kearsley made 142-5 against the home team. The openers gave them an ideal start with 33 runs from four overs, Darren Whittle going on to record a half century. Devendra Bundela scored 39 and Cameron Murray 36 in the middle order, then the innings ended in a flourish as Chris Baxendale and Mo Jameel hit a combined 24 runs from 10 deliveries.
Kearsley took the vital wicket of Westhoughton professional Qaiser Abbas early in the innings, but the home team were still handily placed with the score 54-2. However, with Murray taking 3-19 this soon became 66-6, and there was no way back into the game for the remaining batsmen, although they did reach 116.
After eight successive victories, with many of their opponents struggling to reach three figures, it must have come as a shock to Kearsley when Farnworth hit 171-3 in the final. There was an ideal start for Kearsley who took a wicket with the first ball, but that was as good as it got. Ross Sutton and Younas put on 71 and then Younas and Imran Mirza added exactly one hundred. Younas finished unbeaten with 96 from 66 deliveries with Mirza's 49 coming from 32.
Grant Cordin with 31, Cameron Murray 29 and Chris Baxendale 44 combined to keep the game alive, but the end came with Kearsley nine runs adrift.
It is the turn of the Pennine League to stage the area finals on July 30. As the first match is between the host league and their nearest opponents, it is almost certain Farnworth will have the morning match. The Northern League finals are next weekend, but, ominously Ormskirk, possibly the strongest club team in the county, have qualified from the Liverpool Competition.