New Challenges (2017-2022)
While Qureshi’s departure was a blow for Rainhill, the first team (pictured above) responded well to the setback and had their best ever season. Captained by Ben Edmundson, Rainhill finished in third place in the Premier League thanks to performances that showed the depth of talent in the squad. Ross Higham hit a 91-ball hundred against Ainsdale in April, Tyler Mc Gladdery hit a century versus Wallasey in May and David Atkinson scored his second first team century with 105 in a September victory over New Brighton. Three different amateur players scoring centuries in the same season was a first for Rainhill – and it was almost four. Sam Kershaw, who scored 688 league runs, made a knock of 94 versus Southport and Birkdale. The new overseas player, Indian spinner Akshay Arun Darekar, took 89 wickets at an average of 10.83 with best bowling figures of 8-17.
As the leading run scorer in the league with 916 runs at an average of 48.21 (including seven 50s and two centuries), Tyler McGladdery won the Liverpool Competition Player of the Year award. McGladdery’s 143 against Wallasey was – and remains – the highest score by a Rainhill player in the Premier League. In all games he scored an incredible 1291 runs.
Akshay Darekar returned for 2018, a season in which the first team finished sixth in the Premier League. He missed a few games but still was able to take 55 wickets with best figures of 7-27 against New Brighton. Tyler McGladdery continued to impress with the bat. His 936 league runs at an average of 49.26 (1,455 runs in all matches) earned him a debut appearance for Lancashire 2nds against Scotland in which he top-scored for Lancashire. Unfortunately for Rainhill, McGladdery’s prolific run scoring resulted in him signing for Ormskirk CC for the 2019 season.
Ryan Williams, a promising young player who had played for Lancashire at junior level, left the club to pursue a new career opportunity in a different area. Having risen through the junior ranks, Williams was a regular in the first team from 2008 onwards. He took over 300 first team League wickets, including 6-52 against Wallasey. Ryan also scored over 1000 league runs with a best of 60 not out.
The under 15s, now managed by Matt Pennington, were league winners.
The end of the year saw further ground improvements as the renovated outfield on the bottom part of the ground was played on for the first time. The work to level the outfield, install new drains and reseed was carried out in late 2018. It was completed in early 2019 following a £75,000 grant from Sport England secured by Peter Mercer.
2019 saw Qaiser Ashraf join the club as overseas professional. Ashraf took 62 wickets, with a best performance of 7-22, as the first team finished the league season in eighth place. Rainhill were also helped by professionals Luke Procter (Northamptonshire) and Anuj Dal (Derbyshire), who played several games and produced match winning performances.
Paul Duffy took over management of the under 15s from Matt Pennington and helped the team defend their league title. The under 15s also reached the Echo Cup final. Batting first, Rainhill had taken their score to 125-1 before rain intervened. The final was due to be replayed early in the 2020 season but, due to Covid, was cancelled.
In the same year, Rainhill CC delivered the ECB All Stars programme, for 5-8 year olds, for the first time. This proved popular with the local community and attracted over 60 participants to one session. Women’s and girls’ cricket was also introduced by club captain Mike Rotheram.
2020 was a season heavily disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, a reduced cricket season was possible and, in many respects, was a successful one for Rainhill.
Frank Davies wrote about his fond memories of the club from 1954-1986. His colourful account covered his time as President, Chairman, Secretary, first team captain, coach to our juniors and talented swing bowler.
Left arm medium pacer Jamie Harrison (ex-Durham CC) joined the club as a player and junior coach. With the league season replaced with a series of smaller group competitions, the first team emerged as LDCC Love Lane Group D winners (pictured here following their win over Rainford). Due to pandemic-related restrictions, the club played without an overseas professional.
Rainhill’s ‘Last Man Stands’ midweek team, captained by Jack Lowrie, finish the season as Warrington and District Champions.
The girls’ team, only formed a year previously, reached the final of the LDCC Softball Tournament. An ECB grant of £10,000 was obtained by Mike Rotheram to further increase the development of girls’ and women’s cricket within the club.
In 2021 a full cricket season was possible and relative ‘normality’ returned. John Rotheram continued as chairman (his 21st season in the role) while Andrew Finney marked 50 years of scoring for the first team. Joe Crossley, the club’s oldest and longest serving player with over 40 seasons behind him, continued as Sunday team captain. Mike Rotheram started his 26th consecutive season playing first team cricket having already scored over 8500 league runs with 4 hundreds and 41 fifties.
Rainhill did not use the services of an overseas player. Tyler McGladdery returned to the club from Ormskirk. Together with Sam Kershaw and Dave Atkinson (who had a spell with Formby) the talented trio who helped achieve 3rd place Premier League finish in 2017 were reunited.
2021 saw the club celebrate its 150th anniversary with a gala event in August.
McGladdery hit 135 not out in a T20 Cup win from only 68 balls (including 11 sixes and 8 fours), setting a new record for the highest individual score in the LDCC section of the competition. The total of 237-4 was the second highest ever LDCC team total in this competition. McGladdery finished 2021 with 950 in all matches and 694 in league competition, including an unbeaten 120 in an impressive victory over eventual champions Northern. The leading wicket taker was Peter Kelly, who collected 42 victims in the league with best figures of 8-59 away to Formby.
In the first full season for our women’s and girls’ teams, Rainhill’s under 10s girls went the entire season (13 matches) unbeaten, while Rainhill’s women also finished as runners-up in the Women’s Softball League while the Last Man Stands team regained their league title. There was success for the juniors too as two under 9s teams entered the Ainsdale tournament and finished as cup and plate runners-up.