A talented young Chorley cricketer is hoping a trip to the hallowed turf of Lord’s will prove a ticket to the big time.
Josh Tolley, 20, will play at the home of cricket when his team Woodhouses, from Oldham, face Sussex side Rottingdean in the Persimmon Village Cup final next month.
For Josh, a product of the Windsor Park junior set-up, the final will be an opportunity to showcase his skills on one of his sport’s biggest stages.
He said: “I’m really excited about playing at Lord’s, it’s every young cricketer’s dream, isn’t it?
“I’ve never played at a Test venue before, and I suppose you could say it’s the biggest match I’ll ever have played in.
“I’m hoping to become a professional, but it’s hard to get some county second team opportunities. I’ve had a few good seasons now but I’m not getting a look in anywhere, and it’s quite frustrating.”
Right-handed batsman Josh, who bats at number three, has certainly had a hot run of form this season for Woodhouses in the Lancashire County League.
He has hit over 900 runs in the league campaign and a further 474 in their cup run, including four centuries and a season high of 150, and top scored in their semi-final victory with 79.
He said: “I’m having a pretty good season. My target is always to get around 1000 runs, and it looks like I’m going to get quite a bit more than that.”
Josh, whose elder brother Sam is a talented wicketkeeper/batsmen at Chorley CC, spent the winter in Australia, where he played club cricket Old Mentonians in Melbourne.
He said: “I was playing a decent standard over there, similar to the good leagues around here.
“There was quite a bit of rain and a lot of games were called off before Christmas, but it picked up after that.
“I found it very similar to over here really, they do things exactly the same as we do, so I settled in really well and there was no culture shock.
“It was a really good club to play for, so that helped me too. I’ll be deciding in the next few days whether I’m going back, if I can get a working visa sorted.”
Josh now hopes to follow in the footsteps of his Woodhouses team-mate and fellow Chorleian Sam Sweeney, who is currently in the Northamptonshire seconds squad and can’t play in the Lord’s final.
He said: “When Sam came back from Australia he went down there and trained with them and they invited him back. They gave him a game and he’s taken the opportunity well.
“Hopefully I just need a couple of games somewhere, and show what I can do.
“But there’s not many opportunities coming up with the counties. They have to pick their squad members first, and they will be looking at their academy players.
“If I can’t get in at Lancashire, and I can’t at the moment, it’s hard to go elsewhere because they can’t see me play.”
The Village Cup final will provide valuable experience of high-level cricket both on and off the field, with the Woodhouses team staying in a hotel overnight and attending a pre-match dinner held by the event sponsors.
Josh is also hoping some of the club’s supporters will be able to travel to provide a big game atmosphere.
He said: “For one of the earlier rounds we played a team from Warwickshire, and we took a coachload of players and fans down there, and there were over 500 people at our ground for the semi-final.
“It’s really nice to play in front of big crowds when you do well.”