Windermere’s withdrawal from top division sign of changing times

Chris Parry was top scorer in the Palace Shield last season. Picture: Tony North
Chris Parry was top scorer in the Palace Shield last season. Picture: Tony North

Sport was the spiritual home of many a working man and an aspirational challenge for many a young man.

In an increasingly sedentary and press-button society there are new and radically different priorities.

Nationally it is the Asian community and the women’s game leading the way in the summer sport with many new female recruits from the 15-17 and 35-45 age brackets.

The latest Westmorland Cricket League (WCL) cricket club to be hit by these changing times is the historic Windermere founded in 1857 and the second most successful club in history behind Burneside.

The withdrawal of their first team is a seismic event which has sent shock waves through local cricket.

To the young team (now Windermere first eleven) who intend keeping the flag flying in Division Four every good wish is sent. Cricket has been played on Queens Park since 1899.

At the other end of the spectrum is a buoyant and welcoming Carnforth club who will be at their strongest for some time. Three new members have proven pedigree. All three are returners to the club.

Ryan Nelson has a Northern League First Division century to his name.

Chris Parry was the leading scorer in the Palace Shield competition last season. Adam Hornby is a former captain.

On a Peter Robinson prepared wicket it is likely to be a run-fest season on the Lodge Quarry ground. A 50 wicket-a-season bowler would make Carnforth the complete side.

Carnforth look to be one of the teams capable of stopping Westgate achieving the Holy Grail of a hat-trick of championships.

They have lost Zac Buchanan and Alex Briggs but that loss is more than compensated with the return of prodigal sons Peter Wilson and Danny Wilkinson from Shireshead.

In Andrew Hill they have a captain who reads the game a chapter ahead. Hardened front line fighters, it will be difficult to deny the Crosshill Park becoming only the third club to achieve the Holy Grail.

Other than the Carnforth club, Shireshead and Arnside look to be the likeliest deniers but Warton cannot be written out of the equation.

It could be a competitive season.

The new Shireshead captain Dave Jack inherits a balanced team despite the loss of Phil Bovis compounding the loss of Wilson and Wilkinson.

A close season operation hopefully has cured James Rafferty’s shoulder problem.

Irsan Quayam returns from Morecambe and exciting youngsters Joe Cunliffe and Joe Oliver look to be headline makers. The captain himself will have a big say in matters.

Arnside are there own worst enemy which is why just two championships since the turn of the millennium is a poor return for talented players. Added to this talented team is James Wincup, wicket keeper/batsman from Heysham.

Spin bowler David Birch is more available so providing that underlying weakness is not exposed Arnside will be challengers.

Captain Adam Richardson will do his utmost to see that it isn’t.

Warton exceeded expectations last season after the loss of so many players. To lose just one game and win the Division One trophy augers well for this season.

A small squad engenders team spirit and it is that esprit de corps captain Graham Crowther will look to.

New man Gareth Price is a welcome addition to this band of brothers.

The days when Milnthorpe CC vied for the title seem a long way off now but with the return to rude health of former winning captain Steve Bowman and James Parkinson from America there is an air of optimism. Re-assembling a second eleven is another welcome boost to morale.

Burneside finished mid-table last season which was a big improvement. Hope of recruiting ex-Windermere players came to nought so new captain Ben Leacock will have the usual suspects under his command. Bowler Chris Dixon will be critical.

At one point last season the Heysham team threatened, only to end up deceiving. The double loss of Wincup and spinner Stephan Dixon to Morecambe can be absorbed by Andy Powers, Sam Calverhall, Graham Cassidy et al as more than one top team will discover.

Expectation at Silverdale has ratchet up with the return of batsman Jarrad Collis and arrival of Michael Collins, an all rounder from Essex.

If fast bowler Matthew James finds form Silverdale should have a season free from the threat of relegation.

That threat is unlikely to be extended to newly promoted clubs Ambleside and Holme. It is ridiculous to say Ambleside is a one man team in the shape of Oli Wileman but take him out of the team, the men from Rydal would not be in the First Division. ‘Can bowl, can’t bat’ has long been the mantra.

Last seen in Division One in 1996 Holme are an unknown quantity at that rarified level. In captain Liam Teasdale they have a leader whose DNA includes that from his grandfather ‘Mick’ Fawcett, an all time great of the WCL.

Liam will be looking to Lee Barnes, Karl Wiess and Richard Herron to lead the charge.