Swarbrick the saviour as Lancaster continue fine run with Darwen win

Lancaster professional Jannisar Khan finally returned to the club against Darwen.
Lancaster professional Jannisar Khan finally returned to the club against Darwen.

Alan Kruger’s six for 72 was not enough for visiting Darwen as Lancaster continued their fine league form.

The travails of the Lancaster top order were once again rescued by teenager Charlie Swarbrick who carried his bat for his second half century in as many weeks as the hosts posted 142.

Scott Sparks and Iain Perrieman then both took four wickets with the ball as the visitors to Lune Road were dismissed for 90.

Batting first Jamie Heywood was run out early after a yes-no dialogue with Swarbrick left him a yard short of his ground.

After a long delay in arriving, professional Jannisar Khan’s return to Lancaster heralded a first-ball duck as Kruger produced an unplayable leg cutter that Jannisar couldn’t help but glove.

Danny Welbourne joined Swarbrick and, despite being caused countless problems by the bounce of Kruger, managed to stick around to halt Darwen’s progress.

Swarbrick looked in little trouble but Lancaster’s problem of losing wickets in clusters reared its head again as Welbourne, Alex Metcalfe and Iain Burstow departed.

Iain Perrieman and Lee Sparks both took the aerial route in attacking Kruger and Wade, which eventually proved their downfalls.

Only Swarbrick remained as Scott Sparks became the third first-baller of the afternoon and Lee Marshall, in his first appearance for eight years, sacrificed his wicket in another running mix-up.

At 91 for 9 Lancaster would have taken any three figure score but number 11 Liam Moffat showed the rest of the line-up how it was done.

Initially Moffat was watchful as Swarbrick reached 50 before playing some strokes of his own.

The off-spin of John Cordingley finally bowled Moffat for 22 with Swarbrick carrying his bat for a sublime unbeaten 75.

Lancaster had their tails up after the break, and after some flashing strokes from Kruger, Ammer Mirza was bounced out fending to Welbourne at square leg off a fiery Perrieman.

Kruger looked to have weathered the early storm from Jannisar and Perrieman, before Lee Sparks intervened by producing a remarkable one-handed pluck as the Darwen pro walked back with just 14.

Chris Clarke and John Cordingley dug in before Liam Moffat removed them both.

Northern League veteran Gareth Cordingley proved to be a touch nut to crack, as he counter attacked hitting anything full over the top.

At drinks Darwen had recovered to 70 for 4 and with the senior Cordingley still at the crease the visitors’ hopes were still very much alive.

Perrieman’s extra pace proved too much for Jordan Clarke before Sparks got among the wickets removing Neil Cordingley bat-pad for nought.

At 80 for 6 the killer blow came when Scott Sparks emulated his brother’s earlier one-handed catch taking Gareth Cordingley’s firm clip above his right shoulder to give Perrieman his fourth wicket.

Sparks then went on to wrap up the innings with the ball, as he castled Nathan Jackson, before out-thinking Sam Chatburn-Jones who found Swarbrick on the short leg-side boundary.

The end came not long after when Chris Wade top-edged a sweep to Liam Moffat at short fine leg to give Sparks his fourth of the afternoon and Lancaster a very convincing 15-point win.