Blackpool went top of the Northern Premier League as Lancashire captain Steven Croft helped them to an 89-run home win over Darwen on a day the Fylde coast bucked cricket’s waterlogged trend.
The only other NPL first division game not to be rained off was at Fleetwood, where Barrow just about clung on for a draw.
The Liverpool Competition was similarly affected by the weather, though one of only two ECB premier league matches to survive saw Lytham stun leaders Leigh with a six-wicket win.
Fresh from helping Lancashire to a seven-wicket NatWest T20 Blast win at Worcestershire the previous evening, Croft made his first appearance of the season for his hometown club and was straight into the action as Blackpool were put in at Stanley Park in a match reduced to 42 overs a side.
Croft saw his first two partners disappear without scoring but rock-bottom Darwen’s bright start was soon forgotten as Blackpool’s special guest was joined by club professional Daryl Mitchell.
Darwen’s Srikant Wagh went away with a story to tell after claiming the scalp of Croft for 35, caught by wicketkeeper Mark Friend.
Wagh then dismissed Stephen Twist, the third member of Blackpool’s top five to fall without scoring, on his way to figures of 3-40 from 12 overs.
However, New Zealander Mitchell then put on 78 for the fifth wicket with Andy Furniss before being sixth man out for 73 from 80 balls, having scored four fours and two sixes. It was the pro’s fourth half-century for Blackpool.
An unbroken stand of 48 between Josh Boyne (32 from 30 balls) and Tom Jefferson then took the hosts to a total of 213-6.
Like Blackpool, Darwen then lost a wicket before a run was on the board but they then gave themselves hope with a second-wicket stand of 55 betwen Daniel Bowden (31) and John Cordingley (30).
However, as 85-3 became 110-7 the game was up and Darwen were eventually dismissed for 124 in 37.5 overs.
That middle-order slump was largely due to Daniel Pile, who took 4-22 off seven overs. Croft’s eight overs were wicketless, though Boyne took 3-14 off 7.5.
In another 42-over game, Fleetwood chose to bat and made 194-5 as opener Adam Parker was the mainstay with nine fours and a six in his season’s best 62. Wicketkeeper Tom Penny caught all Fleetwood’s top three before Tom Wilson boosted the total with 41, including five fours and a six.
Kaustubh Pawar then did his utmost to beat Fleetwood single-handed by firing 97, including nine fours and two sixes.
The Barrow opener found solid support from Sam Dutton (34) before becoming one of Fleetwood pro Travis Dean’s four victims (for 61 off 17 overs) and the other nine men in mustered only 22 between them.
However, the final pair held on for the draw at 155-9 as Alex Ryder took 3-21 from seven overs.
That left Fleetwood level with former leaders Leyland, while Blackpool pulled seven points clear as the second half of the NPL season got off to an otherwise soggy start. St Annes had no fixture.
Toby Lester had his best bowling return for Lytham as they put Leigh into bat at Church Road and dismissed the Liverpool Competition leaders for 155 in 47.3 overs.
Lancashire’s Lester removed all the top four on his way to 5-28 from 13 overs and Leigh looked set for humiliation at 45-7.
However, wicketkeeper Matthew Hibbert came in at number 10 and top-scored with 48 from 71 balls, sharing a last-wicket stand of 47 with unbeaten Richard Dempster.
Lytham’s victory was never in doubt after an opening stand of 108 between Taylor Cornall (63 off 106 balls with seven fours) and Matthew Taaffe (48 off 82).
Both fell to Matthew McKiernan, who took all the wickets for 4-52 off 16 overs but could not prevent wicketkeeper Gary Knight (26no) seeing Lytham through to a comfortable win at 156-4 from 41.5 overs. Leigh stay top as Lytham climb back into the upper half.
Blackpool will be at home to Darwen in the quarter-finals of the NPCL’s Reader Cup after beating Barrow by 59 runs at Stanley Park yesterday.
Blackpool’s decision to bat was rewarded with Mitchell’s 94 from 99 balls as the hosts reached 232-5 in their 50 overs.
The New Zealander shared stands of 80 for the third wicket with Tom Jefferson (33) and 85 for fourth with Andy Furniss (40). Daryl Wearing took 3-54 from his eight overs .
Darwen’s Pawar continued his fine form from Fleetwood, scoring 87 from 88 balls and sharing an opening stand of 93 with wicketkeeper Toby Mowat (39) as the vistiors threatened to reach their target.
But Pile was having none of that, taking 5-38 from eight overs as only one other Darwen player scored more than four and their reply was halted at 173 with 3.3 overs to spare.
Garstang are just a point behind second-placed Fulwood and Broughton in the Palace Shield after their eight wicket home win over Thornton Cleveleys. F&B were three-wicket winners at Great Eccleston.
Thornton have been joined on 82 points by Freckleton after their three-wicket win over Torrisholme as most of the matches beat the bad weather which ravaged other North-West Leagues on Saturday.
Moore and Smalley SE+Palace Shield
Premier division: Freckleton (124-7, A Moreau 36, GD Lee 3-31) beat Torrishome 123-8, J Holden 4-21) by three wickets, Garstang (120-2, A Cook 46no) beat Thornton Cleveleys (119-9, J Eade 47, M Walling 4-31, I Walling 3-28) by eight wickets, Great Eccleston (137-5) lost to Fulwood and Broughton (140-7) by three wickets, Longridge (210-7) beat Fylde (93-8) by 117 runs, Whittingham and Goosnargh (72) lost to Vernon Carus (73-3) by seven wickets, Croston v Penwortham abandoned.
Division One: BAC/EE Preston (103-3, T Wilcock 54no) beat Kirkham and Wesham (97-9, T Wilcock 5-29) by seven wickets, Fulwood and Broughton 2 (187-7) beat White Coppice (168-9) by 19 runs, Norcross (103, D Baker 46, R Lyon 6-46) lost to Rufford (107-9, R Kenny 46, I Davies 5-59) by one wicket, Vernon Carus 2 (108-4) beat Withnell Fold (107) by six wickets. Eccleston v Garstang 2 and Hoghton v Longridge 2 abandoned.
Division Two: South Shore (156-4, D Jardine 76no, L Jardine 43) beat Mawdesley (153-9, J Brown 6-44) by six wickets, Blackpool 3 (134-8, S Kazmi 49, N Lawrenson 5-31) beat Great Eccleston 2 (97, M Middlehurst 6-22, A Diver 4-25) by 37 runs, Tarleton (152-3) beat Whittle and Clayton-le-Woods (78) by 74 runs, Thornton Cleveleys 2 (140, J Thomson 51, E Brown 4-28) lost to Walton-le-Dale (143-3, C Morris 43) by seven wickets, Wrea Green (134-5, A Child 65) lost to Gregson Lane (135-8, G Thorp 35no, C Laycock 4-25, W Norris 3-48) by two wickets, Penwortham 2 v New Longton abandoned