Charity and cricket have never been as perfectly aligned as they are in the Phoenix 15 League.
The midweek league, featuring teams from North Staffordshire and South Cheshire, provides a competitive format in between weekend cricket – but also plays its part to aid good causes.
Four zones are contested in 15-over eight-a-side matches during the summer evenings.
The winners of each zone then advanced to finals day to contest the overall title.
It is a competition which has gone down well with local players since it was established in 2006 by Roger Machin and the late Ken Lightfoot to keep the name of the North Staffs and District League alive following a restructuring of weekend cricket.
Entertainment is always in plentiful supply, but at the heart of the midweek competition is raising money for local good causes.
Teams pay membership fees of £50 per season, which along with sponsorship helps to boost revenue for charities.
In total, more than £15,000 has been raised since the competition was formed.
In 2006, Child Victims of Crime were the beneficiaries, but Alsager Animals in Need, the Donna Louise Hospice Trust and Sandbach-based Brushheads are among the other good causes to have received money since then from the Phoenix League committee.
Children’s Chronic Arthritis Association, CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), which funds heart screening for young adults and awareness about Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, and Amy and Friends, a support group for families whose children suffer from Cockayne Syndrome and Rudyard Sailability are among recent beneficiaries.
For 2019 and 2020 the competition nominated the Foster Carers’ Association and the Alice Charity as the beneficiaries of their fundraising.
And out on the pitch, it was Nantwich who walked away with the silverware last summer.
The Cheshire County League Premier Division side defeated Porthill Park in the final at Ashcombe Park to take the trophy back across the county border.
Nantwich batted first and managed to post 154-3 from their 15 overs with Rob Cook-Sievewright making 72 and Ray Doyle chipping in with 48.
Porthill Park’s reply started in the same way as the Nantwich innings as they lost Louis Allison to a stumping off the first ball.
Porthill struggled to score runs against some tight Nantwich bowling with only Will Price making any significant contribution with 37. Alan Chesters took 3-24 and Oliver Griffiths 2-15 as Porthill’s reply was restricted to 95 all out.
Earlier, in the first of the semi-finals, Porthill had scored 118-5 with Louis Allison scoring an unbeaten 57 and they then dismissed Norton in Hales for 74, Nick Hubble and Niall Hassett taking three wickets apiece. Nantwich beat hosts Ashcombe Park in the second semi-final, despite posting a modest 104-6. However, Ashcombe only managed 68 all out in reply, Ray Doyle taking 3 for 16.
League President John Giffard presented Nantwich with the trophy, while cheques were also presented to charity representatives.
The Phoenix 15 League has now been nominated in the Sport in the Community category at the Sentinel/City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year awards.