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Cricket club near Lancaster just two games away from Lord’s final

Shireshead and Forton cricket club first team. Photo by Mike Dent.

A club based near Lancaster has a huge week ahead as they progress towards a possible final at 'The Home of Cricket'.

Shireshead and Forton Cricket Club will compete in the quarter finals of the Voneus Village Cup against Stayley on Sunday (July 16), a competition in which the team, according to their captain, have “exceeded expectations”.

Should they progress on Sunday, they will play one of Milford Hall, Barkby United, Grampound Road, Hook & Newnham, Ashmanhaugh and Barton Wanderers or Leeds and Broomfield on July 30.

If they win through to the final, the village club will play at Lord’s in London, one of the most famous grounds in the world known as 'The Home of Cricket', on September 3.

Before then, they will play in the quarter finals of the Westmorland Cricket League Hackney and Leigh Division 1 T20 Cup on Thursday evening (July 13).

As well as their cup successes, the team are also involved in an exciting battle towards the top of Westmorland Cricket League Division One.

Jack Cunnington, who took on the role of first team captain at the start of the cricket season in April, recently spoke to Beyond Radio about what has been a great season so far for the whole team and him personally.

“The season has been going really well for me," said Jack.

"I’m an off-spin bowler and I’ve been taking quite a few wickets in the last few weeks, both in the league and cup games.

“I’ve also scored a few runs in a few tight games, so it’s been pleasing that I’ve helped us get over the line in close matches. Hopefully that can continue into the second half of the season.”

Jack has been playing cricket for many years, and not just in the United Kingdom.

“I started playing cricket when I was about 12 years old and got into it through school then joined my local team. I’m from Leicester originally so it was down there where I first started playing.

“After leaving school, I took a gap year before going to university, so I played a season in Melbourne and played for a club side out there. I moved to Leeds for university, stayed there after university and played for a team there. I moved to Lancaster in 2019 with my now wife and that’s when I joined Shireshead.”

He says the team are “really enjoying” their National Village Cup run.

Shireshead and Forton received a bye into the second round of the Village Cup but since then they have beaten Burneside, Grimsargh and Read in the regional rounds, then Sacriston, followed by Ainsdale in the national rounds.

“We’ve had some great days so far playing in the cup, we’ve probably exceeded our expectations," said Jack.

"This is the furthest the club have got in the competition so the whole club is really proud of what we’ve done so far.

“Even though we’ve got four men’s teams and junior teams, I would still describe ourselves as a relatively small village club, we’ve not got the resources that some of the other clubs in the competition have.

“We’ve had loads of support from the whole club and locals. Family and friends have been coming down to support us too which is great. Our opponents have been brilliant too, in all fairness.

“When we played Sacriston at home, they brought a coachload of supporters who were all friendly and put lots of money behind the bar for us and as a club we’re really appreciative of that.

“I know it’s a cliché, but we’re only looking at the next round of the competition. We know there’s the chance to play at Lord’s in the final, I don’t think we’re getting ahead of ourselves though.”

Their opponents on Sunday play their league cricket in the Greater Manchester Cricket League Division One, in which they are third. Judging by their performances in the National Village Cup, bowling seems to be Stayley’s biggest strength.

“Our batting has really come to the fore in the last couple of weeks. In the last two games in the cup, we’ve batted first and made scores of 200 plus, and that’s been our formula to winning the games – putting runs on the board and putting pressure on the team batting second and trying to restrict them.

“It’ll just be a case of seeing how our batting comes up against a good bowling attack.”

None of the players in the team have ever played at Lord’s so, were they to get to the final, it would be a fantastic and unique achievement and experience on both a personal and professional level.

Before their game on Sunday, Shireshead and Forton’s firsts take on Morecambe’s seconds on Thursday evening in the Hackney & Leigh T20 Cup Quarter Final.

“We’ve had two good results in that so far against Bare and then Warton, and they were both convincing," said Jack.

"We traditionally do well in the T20 competition - in 2021 we won it and last year we got through to the finals day but lost out in the semi-final. We want to go one better this year and reach the final.”

In the Westmorland Cricket League Division One, Shireshead and Forton are in fourth spot with 13 games played, tied on points with third-placed Sedgwick on 150, Burneside are in second with 166 and league leaders Heysham have 172.

“We had a relatively slow start and a few results didn’t go our way to begin with, but in the last few weeks we’ve been on a really good run," said Jack.

“We got a winning draw away against Heysham who are top of the league so it was good to get that result against them. They will be the favourites at the moment, but Burneside, Sedgwick and ourselves are below them and from our point of view, we just want to keep winning and see where we get to.”

It’s not just the first team who are enjoying success at the moment.

The seconds are top of the Westmorland Cricket League Division 2 and, as two teams from the same club can’t compete in the same division, Jack says that the first team have ambitions to try and get into the top two of the league and therefore become eligible to move from the WCL to the Palace Shield to help the second team progress.

It would also help the third team as well, who are top of the WCL Division 4 South.

The seconds also played in finals day of the T20 British Rose Division 2 Trophy, a competition they won last season, on Sunday (July 9) at Warton Cricket Club.

They beat Milnthorpe’s firsts in the semi final with 94 for 3 in 14.1 overs. Milnthorpe batted first and were 91 for 2 in 20 overs.

However, the final against Netherfield’s thirds was unfortunately rained off and will be played at a later date.

“There’s success right across the teams at the moment which is great to see and it’s a massive success that we’ve now got a fourth team this year”, said Jack.

“It’s not just about league positions, it’s about how many people are playing cricket.

“The club in general is in great health and our successes wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers that make the club what it is. All the people putting hours into getting the ground ready, making it look good, people running the bar and so on – from a captain’s perspective, I’m really grateful for that.”

Shireshead and Forton’s firsts versus Morecambe’s seconds in the Westmorland Cricket League Hackney & Leigh Division 1 T20 Cup Quarter Final takes place at Clifton Park in Forton on Thursday (July 13) at 6pm.

Shireshead and Forton’s firsts versus Stayley’s firsts in the Voneus Village Cup quarter final takes place at Clifton Park on Sunday (July 16) at 1pm.

Shireshead and Forton’s firsts’ next game in the Westmorland Cricket League Division One, versus Kendal’s seconds takes place at Clifton Park on Saturday (July 15) at 1pm.

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