Lancashire Lions Win Brian Johnston Memorial Trophy
High on confidence after winning the North & East league title two weeks earlier, Lancashire Lions were expected to do well in the Brian Johnston Memorial Trophy held in Leicester, involving 8 teams nationwide in a 10 a side overs tournament to determine the best of England.
With the added pressure of being handed the favourites tag the Lions started off with a comfortable win over Metro Devils posting 119-1 and then restricting the opposition below 70 in their 10 overs with Usman Afridi, Abu Bakr and Wasim Afridi hitting unbeaten 25s, the retirement scores. In the second round Nottinghamshire Knights seeking revenge for the dramatic title loss few weeks earlier provided no problems for the Lions as they knocked up another ton reaching 120-0 and then bowling them out for less than 50, with unbeaten 25s from Wasim, Daniel Clarke and Sheraz Chohan. The third round saw the Lions taking on the unknown Kent side who on paper looked like the toughest test but another strong batting performance saw the young Lions post a stiff target of 124-1, with Usman and Taseen Sabir hitting 25s including taking England vice-captain for 17 in an over. The bowlers then kept up the pressure and eventually the total proved too much as some fine bowling from Amjad Khan, Rashid Khan and Arslan Sabir frustrated the batters with their line and length.
With the first day coming to a close Durham won the toss and elected to bat first but couldn’t handle the might of the Lions bowling and fielding attack as they stumbled to 59 in their 10 overs, which was knocked off with ease by 11 year old John Sibbering and Captain Arslan. After a relaxing evening out in a local restaurant the team enjoyed a meal and reflected on their day's efforts.
The next day in the fifth round veterans Ralph Aldred and George Ferguson both reaching their 25s against new comers Gloucestershire with contributions from Taseen Rashid taking the Lions score to 123 and then restricting the inexperienced side below 80, as Taseen combined with wicket keeper Sheraz to complete his 8th run out of the competition. But the performance of the weekend came in the match against rivals Yorkshire in a reduced 8-a-side game. In the blistering heat Yorkshire put the Lions into bat and could only admire the batting of the squad, as Usman smashed a quick 25 as he took his personal tally to over 100 runs in the tournament with support from Taseen and Daniel. A daunting target of 129 was set for the opposition. Just like all the other teams, Yorkshires batsmen could not cope with the skills of the Lions bowlers. With the title all but secured only a defeat would have handed Kent a tie on points but the young Lions made sure they kept up their 100% record as they defeated Berkshire in the final game to make it seven victories out of seven.
It was a great performance by the whole squad with bat, ball and unrivalled fielding skills which was topped by Usman Afridi taking the best batsmen accolade at the presentation.
With the season complete the Lancashire Lions hard work continues over the winter as we search for new talent and continue our development work in local communities. We are actively seeking a sponsor to help with the growing demands to deliver visually impaired cricket to a huge interest in the county and would appreciate any interest from businesses to help towards travel costs, venue hire and equipment.
For anybody interested in Visually Impaired Cricket please contact Sheraz Chohan - Lancashire Lions Club Secretary on 07581 351786 or [email protected].
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Fleetwood CC is one of 97 sports projects across England to receive a share of £5.5 million of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s ‘Protected Playing Fields’ fund to improve and protect their playing fields. ... Full story