News - 21st September 2012
Ainsworth Trophy Final
Paul Edwards watches Old Trafford's last game of the season.
Perhaps every club's cricket season should end with a game between two junior teams. There can be few more potent counters to the caliginous autumn evenings and the incipience of winter.
It was, perhaps, particularly appropriate that Old Trafford's 2012 programme of matches should conclude with the Ainsworth Trophy Final between Bolton and Sefton's Under 15 teams. For while Lancashire's flagship side may have had a thin time of it this summer, the county's youngsters have enjoyed a fine season, winning three national competitions. "All things considered, it's been our best ever year at junior level," said Andy Hayhurst, the director of the Lancashire Cricket Board.
And so a week which concluded with the award of professional contracts to four young cricketers whose first county appearances had been facilitated by the LCB began with a match played under the aegis of both the board and the Lancashire Schools Cricket Association. This latter body was represented by, among others, its secretary John Heaton, who continues to do wonderful work to foster the development of cricket at this level.
Heaton watched a good game, too, one that was deservedly won by Bolton, whose batsmen showed the better appreciation of the demands of playing 50-over cricket. Indeed, the margin of victory would probably have been greater had not Ainsdale's Jack Baybutt batted very shrewdly to make 35 not out off 68 balls and steer his side to a defendable total of 163 for nine.
Sefton were 91 for six when Baybutt went out to bat, four of the wickets having fallen to Farnworth leg-spinner Josh Bohannon who finished with 4-26 from his ten overs. Similarly impressive were Heaton's Josh Cross, who took four for 33 and Farnworth slow left-armer Ayaz Hanif whose ten overs cost 15 runs.
The play after lunch did nothing to dispel the impression that this current generation of Bolton cricketers is richly talented. Even without one or two of their better-known players, Bohannon's men approached their task with impressive maturity, all seven batsmen reaching double figures and building substantial partnerships.
Heaton's Ross Sutton topscored with 37 but Bohannon began the innings with a useful 31 and Ayaz Hanif brought the ship into port with a 40-ball 27 not out. The pick of the Sefton attack were Northern leg-spinner Scott Snaylam, who bowled better than his figures of 1-33 would suggest, and Maghull's Liam Johnson, who deserved more than one wicket.
The game ended with a push into the off side for a single. It seemed almost a benediction on a summer which, for all its dampness and disappointment, has still been full of good things .