HIGHFIELD opened the season with a tough away cup fixture at last year’s finalists Leigh, with Mike Farrell winning the toss and electing to field.
Chris Liptrot and Sam Rotherham opened the bowling and Liptrot struck very early, James Taylor taking a smart catch to dismiss Hibbert.
That was followed by a run-out from Farrell, one of the best fielders in the competition, and Leigh were rocking at 27 for 2.
Liptrot was absolutely all over the batsmen and ripped into the middle order, well supported by Rotherham.
When Liptrot took his fourth wicket - the prized scalp of Lancashire’s Karl Brown, caught by keeper Joel Welsby - the home side were 50 for 6, Rotherham having also dismissed the opposing captain. With Liptrot have bowled his full allotment of overs, Farrell turned to slow bowlers Scott Cornish and Martyn Jenks and also Jake Borrows, now recovered from a back injury.
Leigh rallied with ex-Highfield player Hedley Molyneux and Bains putting on 30 before Borrows cleaned up the latter.
But Molyneux (72) batted very well with good support from Dempster (52) as the home side posted a competitive 217 for 8 off their 45 overs.
Highfield’s response didn’t start well with openers Welsby and Farrell back in the pavilion with just 10 on the board.But Mike Gaskell (23) and Jake Borrows (27) rebuilt steadily, adding 40 for third wicket.
Gaskell’s dismissal was quickly followed by debutante Patel, trapped in front for a duck.
James Taylor and Tom Ashton didn’t reach double figures and it looked very gloomy indeed when Brown clean bowled Borrows.But Rotherham hit a breezy 27 including two sixes before he was stumped off Housley, another ex-Highfield player.
Liptrot, Jenks and Cornish also offered some collective tail end resistance to take the visitors to 148 all out. The same two teams meet next week in the first Premier League game of the season, with Highfield at home this time, and they will be strengthened by the return of overseas all rounder Jy Mirza. Highfield’s second team hosted Leigh in the cup with the visitors choosing to bat.
Mike Atkinson, on debut, claimed three wickets, while Harry Moxham, Andrew Hewitt and Martin Jump also nabbed a wicket each as Leigh posted 188 off their 45 overs.
The home side’s batting line-up had an afternoon to forget as nine batsmen didn’t make double fixtures. The two exceptions were Ryan Hargreaves(55) and skipper Atkinson (26) as Highfield mustered 119 all out in the 41st over.
Wigan lost by 79 runs against Southport and Birkdale CC in the first round of the Ray Digman Trophy.
Orrell Red Triangle beat Wavertree by nine runs in the same competition.