St Annes took a seemingly decisive hold on the race for the championship of the Northern Premier Cricket League after beating both threatening rain clouds and the challenge of Carnforth on Bank Holiday Monday.

St Annes’ sub-pro Qaiser Abbas, the Todmorden professional, was the hero as Andy Kellett’s side recovered from their four-run defeat at Blackpool on Saturday.

Deputising for Dinuka Hettiarachchi who is back home in Sri Lanka after his wife gave birth to their third child, Abbas weaved a magical spell of slow left arm bowling to wreck Carnforth’s innings. He took 7-37 off 19.4 overs with only Carnforth pro Gareth Pedder offering resistance.

Pedder struck 47 off 54 balls including seven fours and one six before he was bowled by Atiq uz-Zaman.

Former Carnforth batsman uz-Zaman then hit an unbeaten 50 off 69 balls to move onto 974 runs for the season and after Pedder took two wickets Abbas supplied the fireworks, blasting an unbeaten 51 off 29 balls with seven fours and two sixes as St Annes celebrated victory.

Defending champions Leyland finished four runs short of victory with the last pair together at Barrow in a thrilling finish, while third-placed Chorley were frustrated by the weather at Darwen as their bid for the title finally ended.

Darwen reached 58-4 off 20.5 overs before rain interrupted their game at Birch Hall and there was no further play.

Left arm opening bowler Billy Smith continued his fine form and took 3-22 off 10 overs for the visitors before the heavens opened to bring a premature end to proceedings.

Darwen v Chorley

N Burke b Smith 13
D Fradd ct M Critchley b Smith 0
Zaman Khan LBW Smith 13
C Clarke Not Out 25
J Cordingley b Dhar 0
N Cordingley Not Out 0
Extras 7
Total (4 wickets, 20.5 overs) 58.

K McCullagh 9 1 28 0, B Smith 10 2 22 3, Dhar 1.5 0 6 1.


Abandoned. Darwen 4pts Chorley 4pts.

Barrow v Leyland

Barrow 141-8 (G Dawson 54), Leyland 138-9 (B Pelser 71no, G Collins 5-52).

Barrow (8pts) winning draw; Leyland 3pts.

Fleetwood v Blackpool

Blackpool 108-8 (A Parker 4-53), Fleetwood 83 (R Gleeson 7-28).

Blackpool (15pts) beat Fleetwood (2pts) by 25 runs.

Kendal v Netherfield

Netherfield 141 (B Laughlin 44, C Miller 6-43), Kendal 141-9 (J How 54).

Netherfield (8pts) winning draw; Kendal 5pts (scores level).

Morecambe v Lancaster

Morecambe 114-6, Lancaster 101-7 (Anwar Ali 5-31).

Morecambe (6pts) winning draw; Lancaster 2pts.

St Annes v Carnforth

Carnforth 115 (G Pedder 47, Q Abbas 7-37), St Annes 117-2 (Abbas 51no, A Uz-Zaman 50no).

St Annes (12pts) beat Carnforth (0pts) by 8 wickets.

Preston free date.