National Club Championship up and running

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A new cricket season began on Sunday with the first of the preliminary round matches in the National Club Championship.

While many fixtures were called off due to the heavy rain sweeping across the country on Saturday, some clubs did manage to beat the deluge to get games completed.

There were a number of good performances across the country, with Atiq Uz-Zaman staring in Westhoughton’s 199-run victory over Caldy of the Liverpool & District Competition.

Uz-Zaman, who has moved from St Annes over the winter, opened for the Bolton League side and his 132 helped Westhoughton to 280 for seven from 45 overs.

Caldy stuggled throughout in reply and were dismissed for 81 from just 23.3 overs to hand Westhoughton an away trip to another Liverpool & District side, Northern.

Sunday’s other century came from Ben Harvey, whose 104 guided Fakenham of the Norfolk Cricket Alliance Premier League to a total of 263 for five against Cambridge NCI of the Cambridgeshire & Huntingdonshire Premier League.

Cambridge NCI then came up against a strong Fakenham bowling attack as they were dismissed for 128, with all five home bowlers claiming two wickets each.

Fakenham will now host reigning East Anglian Premier League champions Swardeston in the next round.

The standout bowling performance of the weekend was delivered by Babar Khan of Bamford Fieldhouse in their first-round match against Highfield.

Khan, who was plying his trade in the Birmingham & District Premier League with Berkswell last season, returned impressive figures of 9-7-8-6 as Highfield were dismissed for just 88 in a game that was brought forward by two weeks to accommodate other league and cup fixtures.

Bamford Fieldhouse knocked off the required runs for the loss of two wickets - with more than 25 overs to spare - to book their place in round two.

A five-wicket haul for Patrick Blair of Enfield helped his side to a nine-wicket victory over Gidea Park & Romford.

Blair took 5-21 from eight overs as the visitors were all out for 114. Enfield took their time in the subsequent chase but made it home with only one wicket down and 12 overs remaining to book a first-round tie against last season's beaten finalists Wanstead & Snaresbrook.

All postponed and abandoned preliminary round matches from this weekend will be played on Sunday April 21, with the first round scheduled to be played on Sunday April 28.