SHIRESHEAD clinched the Westmorland Cricket League title for the second consecutive year with a crushing victory at their closest rivals Warton.

Home skipper Gareth Finney won the toss and elected to field first, knowing only victory would take his side above top of the table Shireshead, with just one further game to be played.

Shireshead’s opening batsmen Tom Jacques (50) and Paul Yates began circumspectly as Graham Crowther (5 for 77) started with three straight maidens.

Only five runs were scored from the first five overs but Yates and Jacques were rewarded for their patience as they formed the largest partnership of the match (72) for the first wicket before Yates fell in the 23rd over.

Jacques fell soon afterwards having struck seven boundaries and one six in the innings of the day, but Phil Bovis took the score past 100 before he and Peter Wilson fell in quick succession.

At 115 for 5 the innings could have gone either way, but Dave Jack (31) and Nick Rafferty added 35 to regain Shireshead’s momentum as they ran well and put the fielding side under pressure.

Crowther bowled tirelessly throughout the innings and was well supported by Ryan Needham (3 for 46), and the pair ensured there were no late order pyrotechnics, although the batting side were well satisfied to close on 167 for 8.

Warton therefore knew they needed to score 168 to win the game and move to the top of the table, but they had to do it without Ryan Nelson who suffered a severe hamstring injury whilst fielding in the Shireshead innings.

No one could have forecast what was to happen in the next 11.1 overs as the Shireshead opening bowlers James Rafferty (4 for 8) and Dave Jack (5 for 14) ran amok in incredible fashion.

Rafferty opened with two maidens before Jack trapped Ricky Nelson lbw for a duck with the first ball of the fourth over before removing Darren Moore and Gareth Finney.

In his next over Jack bowled Tom Barnfield before Rafferty joined in with three wickets in an over, narrowly missing out on a hat-trick in the process and reducing Warton to an unbelievable 12 for 7.

Adam Dixon counter attacked briefly before being surprised by a Rafferty short ball, and with Ryan Nelson unable to bat, Jack brought the curtain down on a fantastic bowling performance by clipping the top of Beck’s middle stump as Warton were bowled out for just 23.