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Church young guns blaze on

CRICKET: CHURCH skipper Phil Sykes is hoping his young guns will continue to shine at Blackburn Road.

IMPRESSIVE: Church's Phil Gilrane
IMPRESSIVE: Church's Phil Gilrane

CHURCH skipper Phil Sykes is hoping his young guns will continue to shine at Blackburn Road.

Several of the youngsters have climbed the ranks and have now started to make a big impression in the Church first team this season.

Despite a shaky start, Church have won three of their last four league games and are through to the quarter-finals of the Switch to Switch Electrical Worsley Cup.

"It is good to see the youngsters coming through," said Sykes who is leading the way in the amateur batting stakes.

"Phil Gilrane is only 20, Craig Fergusson 22, Chris Maudsley, 19, and Adam Greenwood is a similar age and has been a good addition to the squad from Accrington. Andy Bentley was the Under 25 leading wicket taker last year and Sam Tucker, the wicket keeper, has been getting some runs. They are a good set of young players and they are putting in good performances now. It is pleasing to see."

Church won their first local derby of the season with what turned into a comfortable win over Enfield, who haven't yet won a league game this season.

It was a satisfying victory for Church on a good wicket, on a hot sunny day and in front of a sizeable crowd after Mas Ahmed's side had set them a target of just 101. Dill Hall Lane pro Alviro Petersen had hit four boundaries and a six in his 40 but only John Crabtree really chipped in with 19. Gilrane took 4-20 as Enfield struggled against the Church attack.

Sykes and pro Ruven Peiris continued to impress as an opening partnership as they got some early runs on the board.

Peiris celebrated six fours in his 24 - he obviously didn't want to run on a hot day! - while Sykes hung around and hit 4,6,4,4 off one Kaz Shazad over - the 12th - before he was caught by Shazad off the bowling of Imran Abid for 28.

Maudsley then turned on the style with the bat - although lived dangerously at times - as he made 41 which included six boundaries. Enfield bowler Abid did take 3-23 but they could do little against the Church batsman who could take a risk, chasing such a low score.

"Andy Bentley has bowled really well along with Nick Westwell and then Phil Gilrane came in and got four wickets." continued Sykes.

"Really, chasing 100, it only needs a couple of lads to get in their 20s so we were quite confident. Chris (Maudsley) did well - he has threatened to get a score but has been batting lower down the order. It was a good performance by him It is always good to win any Lancashire League game as you have got to work hard."

And Sykes has been happy with his own show this season which has seen him already up to 241 league runs.

"Obviously it is good to score runs and you have to make the most of it as it can quickly turn," said the captain who has celebrated a century this season with 106 against Lowerhouse - his fifth ton of his career.

"Our aspirations at the start of the season were to win more than we lose, to be competitive, hopefully have a good cup run and to see these young players come through. This year, it is looking like the young players will do well, we are still in the cup and we are on a decent run. It is early days, though" added the skipper.

Church face Nelson this weekend - carried over from opening day of the season when it rained - and they visit Colne on Sunday. Enfield make the trip to Haslingden on Saturday and are at home to Nelson on Sunday - desperate for that first win.


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