Season review: Bowler Zac Buchanan’s wicket-haul over season was vital in team’s championship defence

Westgate were crowned Westmorland League champions.
Westgate were crowned Westmorland League champions.

Pre-match plotters. On field combatants. Tenacious to the end. And they don’t like losing.

These are just some of the factors that sets apart Westgate Cricket Club from most of the rest. Under captain Andy Hill they successfully defended their 2016 Championship by three clear games.

With a settled team that wants to play cricket and which carries no passengers it is perhaps unfair to single out Zac Buchanan as their stand out player. But his wickets were crucial.

Zac has ample support in that department which gives opposition batsmen no respite. Runs are also generated all the way down the order by batsmen that can apply to any circumstance. Andreas Arestidou can win or save a game.

Such a skill is priceless in league cricket.

With sprightly youngsters emerging from their academy the juggernaut that is Westgate CC will start 2018 in top gear aiming to become only the third club in Westmorland Cricket League (WCL) history to win a hat-trick of championships.

At the half way point of the season, after 11 games, Arnside looked to be the only side equipped to deny Westgate of the Bateman Shield.

When they bowled out the favourites for just 34 in the 12th game that view was reinforced.

This was the start of a five match winning streak for the Westmerians that took them to top of the table with the two Adams, Richardson and Couperthwaite, to the fore.

In archetypal Arnside style the wheels then started to wobble, then they blew a gasket in racing the juggernaut that had not stopped tailgating them. The end.

Westgate closed their season with 13 15-point victories which is a WCL record and indicative of their self belief in going for high value wins. They are a professional outfit.

The championship challenge from Shireshead and Forton, and Warton, never looked a reality. Shireshead suffered from spasmodic availability of match winning players especially the burgeoning talent of Rowan Upton and proven match winners James Rafferty and Phil Bovis.

Dave Jack, the evergreen Peter Wilson and their other burgeoning talent Joe Cunliffe, can look back on 2017 with satisfaction.

Warton captain Graham Crowther did well to manage his skeleton squad.

To finish fourth despite seven rain affected matches deserves a mention in despatches. His nephew Ryan Nelson also set a new club record with 151no versus Bolton-le-Sands.

The one win of the Bolton-le-Sands club, coupled with the one win of Sedgwick CC, the two promotees from last year, has sent both back from whence they came.

Their immediate return also highlights a glaring problem in the WCL senior divisions. Outside of Division One specialist bowlers are only allowed 72 balls on a Saturday afternoon.

This makes for easy runs, especially if a starred bowler is not playing. But on returning to Division One promoted batsmen find coping with the honed and unrestricted skills of top flight bowlers difficult.

BLS will return to Division Two with memory of Adam Dyson’s record 10-9 versus Sedgwick. Sedgwick themselves will look to Carl Bevan as their future.

At one point the Heysham club hit the heady heights of third, but fifth place still represents a much improved season.

Most plaudits go to Graham Cassidy for his wickets and the big runs of Andy Powers and Jamie Antcliffe. The WCL badly needs a strong Heysham CC.

As for the remaining five clubs, Burneside and Carnforth achieved a pass mark. Windermere, Silverdale and Milnthorpe will re-sit next season.

As predicted it was the bowling practitioners of Burneside that laid to rest their last two dreadful seasons. Chris Dixon, Lee Tattersall, Marcus Oates, Steve Airey and Paul Wilson all flourished.

On the Lodge Quarry ground, Carnforth newcomer Jack Thompson strengthened the side with his probing bowling and a hat-trick to boot.

Jack’s former club Silverdale were able to relax after starting the season with three wins but their susceptibility with bat in hand made for a tough season.

Windermere did not reach the expected level of performance hinted at last season, but as ever the Park brothers James and Mike more than did their bit.

Mike Wills held together the Milnthorpe club in his customary stellar style but a lack of playing personnel is a real worry for the Park Road club. They are not the only ones with such concerns.