Led magnificently by old pro Phil Edwards, Leigh CC 3 Rd team sealed the League title with a resounding thumping of Norley Hall last Sunday.
Its only fitting too, that the report starts by singing the praises of Phil Edwards. Look up ‘clubman’ in the dictionary and you will find a simple entry: Phil Edwards.
For nearly 20 years Phil has professionally, skilfully, with loyalty, dedication, late hours, hundreds of phone calls, reassuringly managed and skippered more than 100 or so juniors finding their way in the senior game for the first time. If anybody in the Liverpool Competition deserves a League Winners medal, it is Phil Edwards. He should be very proud, Leigh Cricket Club is very proud of Phil!
A season that started with a draw and two defeats, gave little hint of what lay ahead. None of these early results were down to poor performance, indeed all were hard-fought and fairly tight games, but the two convincing victories that followed were the games which really laid the foundations for the rest of the season.
The team went on to lose only two more games, finishing with six victories from the last seven matches, including a final run of four straight wins, closing a gap which had been 58 points in mid-August, to seal the title by two points from a Wigan team who had completed all their fixtures several weeks earlier.
This was a magnificent test of nerve and determination by a largely “junior” side, ably assisted throughout the season by one or two twentysomethings and a couple of old timers. At moments in the two penultimate fixtures, all prospects of the title seemed to be receding as the side struggled with the bat in chasing modest totals, having earlier bowled and fielded superbly to restrict the opposition.
But in the end, the undoubted talent in the side shone through, ending the season with a resounding victory in the sun at Beech Walk, well into September.
This was a genuine team effort, with key contributions from different players throughout the season whether with bat, ball or in the field.
Lewis Bailey, Cameron Foster and Alex Seddon topped the run scoring, with regular contributions from several others.
Two centurions both achieved this feat unbeaten – Alex Seddon with 151 not out and Ryan Housley 115 not out, both against Highfield but in separate matches.
With the ball, Alex Seddon, Chris Melia and Ben Smith were top wicket takers, with great support on a regular basis from Andrew Bradshaw, Kevin Robinson, Tim Edwards and Lewis Dove.
The key to the season’s success was a good strike rate balanced with economy, a combination which these bowlers used to excellent effect.
In the field, this was arguably one of the best Third Elevens for many years, with ground fielding, catching and all-round athleticism displayed throughout, but none more so than Kevin Robinson setting a consistently high standard, which the younger players more than lived up to.
There will be new challenges in the Premier Division next season, and undoubtedly competition will be stronger, but the core players from this season’s First Division (North East) winners definitely have what it takes to rise to that challenge.
Lastly, the 3rdd team and the in fact the club are indebted to Kim Edwards for her flawless scoring for the 4 and 3 rd teams for nearly 20 years. The club says ‘Thank you Kim – it was great to see you enjoying the celebrations with Phil and the team too!”