North Staffordshire & South Cheshire League, Premier Division
LEEK are the new leaders of their league after skipper Greg Willott took a gamble against rockbottom Elworth – and won.
With extra points at stake for a victory from batting first, Willott instructed his young opening hitters Alex Mellor and Tom Steele to pad up after winning the toss.
However, things didn’t go exactly to plan when Mellor (16) departed with just 22 runs on the board, followed not long after by Steele (11), as Leek slipped to 40- 2.
Elworth must have been sensing a shock result against the defending champions, especially after despatching Chris Beech (49) and Alex Thompson (27) back to the pavilion, reducing their visitors to 113-4.
However, it was at this point that club professional Nadeem Malik (49) and Ross Dearden (34) turned things around with an 88-run partnership that took Leek on to 201, before they were dismissed in quick succession.
Leek were 217-8 on completion of their 55 overs, after their tail-enders had put a few extra crumbs on the table.
Matthew Winter (39) and Chris Regan (30) got Elworth’s reply off to a good start with an opening partnership that produced 64 runs, before Paul Hammersley claimed the first of his five wickets and Malik the first of three match-winning catches.
Elworth were eventually dismissed for 145 runs in the 50th over to give Leek victory by 72 runs.
Hammersley finished with impressive figures of 5-29 while Steele pitched in with 3-37.
Leek’s victory dislodged Stone – who beat Whitmore – from the top spot. However, only two points separate the two old rivals.
The destiny of the championship could become clearer this Saturday, when Leek clash with former pacesetters Checkley at Highfield and Stone receive a visit from last year’s runners-up, Longton.
Checkley need to beat Leek to keep their title hopes alive, after losing to Wood Lane by 26 runs on Saturday, while Longton will be on a high after overcoming Hem Heath by 92 runs Meanwhile, Leek already have some silverware on the table for their season’s efforts, after lifting the Barney McCardle Trophy.
RESULTS Ashcombe Park 153-7 (R Haider 65, D Proffitt 46no) Elworth 154-6 (Y Ali 88, C Regan 38). Elworth won by 4 wickets.
Bagnall 164-9 (A Khan 54,N Aitken 30, A Brunt 30) Leek 167-6 (R Dearden 22). Leek won by 4 wickets.
Leek 165-5 (A Mellor 46, N Malik 42, H Mahmood 40no) Elworth 164-6 (C Regan 93no; M Bowcock 3- 48). Leek won by 1 run.
Leek Cricket Club selections Saturday, September 7 Leek CC 1st XI vs Checkley (home) 12pm start.
Match sponsor: Leek United.
Team: G. Willott, A. Mellor, T. Steele, C. Beech, A. Thomson, P. Hammersley, L. Potgieter, N. Malik, B. Mellor, T. Tweats, R. Dearden.
Leek Moorlands 1st XI vs Hem Heath/Forsbrook home) 12pm start. Team: R. Ogden, W. Leeson, M.
Coxon, Z. Jupp, M. Bowcock, N. Lafford, S. Tweats, C. Dearden, H. Mahmood, D. Fern, J. Tweats.
Leek CC 2nd XI Vs Checkley (away) 12.30pm start.
Team: S. Machin, N. Grubb, D. Hall, J. Nixon, A. Mahmood, R. Corden, N. Bailey, R. Gill, S. Slater, J. Hudson, D. Fowler-Hill.
Sunday, September 8 Leek Moorlands 2nd XI vs Bignall End (home) To be played at Highfield, 12.30pm start. Team to be announced.