Whalley may not be flying high in the Anthony Axford North West Cricket League’s Premiership, but that does not mean Frankie Jackson’s side are down in the dumps. In fact, it is the exact opposite.

“Win or lose, we’re always happy,” said the young skipper.

On Saturday, they were over the moon courtesy of an impressive four-wicket win at Feniscowles, their fourth victory in 16 games this season.

Jackson, who bowls seamers and took the new ball, starred with a season’s best 5-21 in bowling the hosts out for just 79 having elected to field before first-team debutant Monty Cort top-scored with an unbeaten 29.

“Most weeks we field five or six lads under 18,” said skipper Jackson. “I’m only 23 and am the third oldest in the side.

“But we’re all a bunch of mates. We all go out together outside cricket, which is great for the team spirit. We love playing together.

“Monty has come in from the seconds, and I’ve given him an opportunity at three. He’s played really well. All the lads seemed to be on it a bit more than usual - it was a really good win.”

Jackson says the main reasons for a “difficult” season have been unavailability and inexperience.

“We’ve just struggled against the Bolton teams, who play good cricket,” he said. “They’re a better standard than we are at the minute, and we’ll be in Division Two next year I would have thought.”

While Jackson is expecting Whalley to finish in the bottom 12 ahead of next season’s two-divisional split, he’s not yet completely resigned to it given they have some favourable fixtures to come.

Whalley’s experience comes largely from Blackburn-born professional Levi Wolfenden, the all-rounder who claimed 3-21 as Jackson’s new ball partner before hitting 28 in the chase. He has already signed on again at Station Road for 2024.

“Levi’s a huge part of the club,” said Jackson. “Everybody loves him.

“He will have played first-team cricket in Lancashire for the best part of 12 years, and he’s great for the young lads because of that knowledge.

“Noah Panaia, our young overseas amateur (Australia), has also been really good.”

Jackson, who helps to run the Under-18s, says Whalley’s junior set-up is “thriving”. They also have a merged women’s team with neighbours Great Harwood.

Against Feniscowles, it was not his coaching skills which won the day, it was his bowling.

He has now taken 30 wickets this season, following 44 last season and 29 the year before. In 2019 and 2020, he only took 14 wickets combined, with his contributions coming more with the bat.

Now he is a genuine all-rounder, and one who may have just stumbled upon something which can take his bowling even further.

“I usually come off a short run-up - five or six paces. But here, I came off a bit of a longer run-up, and it was nice to get a bit more pace behind it,” added the former Clitheroe youngster.

“When you’re having a laugh in the nets, trying to bowl as fast as you can, the pro and a couple of other lads were telling me to give it a go in games.

“It’s not always too easy, though. I was running into the wind, and I’m only skinny. I thought I was going to get blown away! But I got it through on what was a good wicket.

“I’ve done everything before but have never really had a set role in the teams I’ve played in. I’ve kept wicket but am 6ft 5, so I’m too tall for that. I started turning my arm over and have had a bit of success. I love bowling.”