Frustration for Bagnall Norton as cricket remains on hold

THE suspension of cricket because of the coronavirus lockdown is especially frustrating to Bagnall Norton CC. The newly-promoted Light Oaks-based club were looking forward to playing at the top level in the North Staffs and South Cheshire League for the first time. Bagnall Norton formed from the amalgamation of the Bagnall and Norton clubs in 2015, since when the club has enjoyed an amazing run of success, gaining promotion in successive seasons to enter the NSSCL Premier Division. The Division One champions were all set to host some exciting Staffordshire Moorlands against the likes of Leek, Ashcombe Park, Cheadle, Checkley and Blythe, before the deadly virus hit sport in general for six. The opening day of the season (April 18) would have seen the club welcome Longton to their Bagnall Road ground, and then the following weekend engage in a crowd-puller at Cheadle's Tean Road base. Another Moorlands derby since lost also is the trip to Ashcombe Park on May 23 and the visit from Checkley on May 30. Bagnall Norton's rise to the top flight of the NSSCL has been helped by former Staffordshire all-rounder Greg Willott, pictured, who played for Norton when they were a stand-alone club, ahead of going on to enjoy an immensely successful spell with Leek, taking them to back-to-back titles and the Staffordshire Cup in 2014. His outstanding success as a Leek pace bowler helped to establish himself as a regular in the Staffordshire attack. He went on to claim 233 championship wickets and more than 1,000 runs for his county at three-day level Willott joined Bagnall Norton at the start of the 2017 season, when they were in Division Three of the NSSCL, and immediately helped guide them to promotion, ahead of the Division Two and Division One titles that followed. He told The Sentinel's cricket writer Chris Travers: "There was a five-year plan to get to the top division, which I thought might be a long shot. To achieve Premier Division cricket in three seasons is remarkable." Willott, 39, can expect a warm welcome when Bagnall Norton travel to face Leek at Highfield on June 13 (virus restrictions permitting), where he established himself as a fans favourite and popular club member.


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