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Sam Allardyce, football manager

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U14s are County Cricket Champions

Thursday, 02 July 2015

An overcast day in Blackpool saw Bolton U14 take on Manchester Grammar School (MGS) in the Lancashire Cup Final, a replay of two years previous when the teams met as U12 finalists. On that occasion, Bolton were the victors, yet with MGS winning the block fixture earlier this season, it would be fair to say that they were favourites this time around. Nevertheless, unbeaten in four outings, the Bolton team were high on confidence, especially after a comfortable win against Lancaster Royal Grammar School in the semi-final only two days before the final itself.

MGS won the toss and decided to bat, hoping to post a big score and allow their strong bowling attack to pressure the Bolton batsmen into submission. However, on a wicket which was flat and true, the early pace of Watson and Bowers set the tone and restricted the MGS openers well, Watson taking the first wicket in the 6th over - MGS 25 for 1 - and Bowers the second leaving MGS 38 for 2 from their first 10 overs. The middle overs were even tighter for the batsmen, Pindoria's spin and Salisbury and McGivern's unerring accuracy yielding more wickets and few runs - 77 for 4 wickets after 25 overs. Then, having been 92 for 6 after 32 overs, the MGS lower order began to swing and the return of pace to the bowling attack allowed them the opportunity to splay the ball around. At the end of their 40 overs, MGS finished on 150. Not a big total, but more than Bolton had wanted and those watching expected.

The message to the opening pair of Bowers and Ball was clear: play your own game, play your shots, put the bowlers off their rhythm. First ball flicked of the pads down the leg side for 4 runs for Bowers. The two started extremely well, Bowers the more aggressive to Ball's watchfulness, racing to 54 for 0 from six overs. At which point Ball took the intiative and the two took the game well away from MGS, Bowers surviving being caught in the deep off a no-ball, going to 80 without loss from 10 overs, bringing the 100 up after 13. The only thing to stop the Bolton march was the weather, as black clouds loomed and rain droplets began to fall. There was no stopping Ball, first to his half century, soon joined by Bowers to put them 119 after 14 overs. With 5 more runs needed, Bowers hit out, a fine knock of 65. Enter Hemmady, a cool head to see Bolton home, which he did, hitting 4 to win in fine style - Bolton reach 154 after only 21 overs.

A fine display by the whole team in the field and with the ball, always positive and keen to encourage, and an outstanding display of aggressive batting by the opening pair to beat MGS and become champions. The team will now enter the national competition, facing the champions of Yorkshire in September. We wish them well.

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The victorious U14 team with the cup!

The victorious U14 team with the cup!