CAPTAIN Tom Parton secured the perfect leaving present as Ramsbottom were crowned Lancashire League T20 champions on Monday.

Parton, aged 24, is moving to Australia next month to develop his career with accountancy firm Grant Thornton.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has grown up at Ramsbottom and has played more than 200 first-team games, winning the league title in 2016 as well as playing his part in three successive T20 wins between 2010 and 2012.

But, aside from winning the league’s version of the Community Shield in 2017, this was his first trophy as skipper having beaten Church in the morning semi-final and then hosts Bacup in the evening final.

“It was a fantastic day,” he said. “The crowd must have been 800-1,000, which is massive for local league cricket.

“I was chuffed it was a Bacup v Rammy final given they were the home side and we are two historic Lancashire League clubs.

“It was a great day because we won the cup, but it would have been a good day had we not.

“There are only three cups you can win in the Lancashire League, so to win any one of them is great. We’re chuffed to bits.

“I would have been desperate to win anyhow, but I was doubly desperate to win because of what’s happening for me.

“I’m going out to Sydney for what is hopefully the chance of a lifetime.

“I joined Grant Thornton at 18 and have been there six years. An opportunity has come up to transfer to Sydney for 18 months, and I go on September 16.

“I’ve done it before in Adelaide for six months and played cricket, which I’ll be doing again for a club called Burwood Briars. As a single 24-year-old who loves his cricket, it’s great.

“Hopefully we win the Ashes and I have some ammunition!”

Sub professional Ashar Zaidi’s stunning 59-ball unbeaten 97 in the semi was the day’s standout performance. He underpinned a mammoth 193-5 batting first, a total defended by an 81-run margin.

Then, in the final against Bacup, he top-scored again with 34 in 159-6, with Ramsbottom going on to win by 46 as the hosts were restricted to 113-7.

Parton, who won important tosses and hit 16 in both games, said: “What’s pleasing is that after the semi-final, you couldn’t pick a man-of-the-match. It was won via a lot of contributions.

“JJ Fielding had a good day with 45 and 30. But a lot of the lads got good 15s and 20s, picked up one or two wickets and took good catches.”

Parton is being replaced as captain by Daryn Smit next season, who led the side to the league crown in 2016. He will also return as their professional.

Smit will continue in his role as Derbyshire’s second-team captain.

He said: “Tom will leave a big hole, both as an opening batsman, behind the stumps and as captain. We have a few people in mind to fill the void as a keeper.”

Parton has revealed that even had he been staying at Ramsbottom, he would have most likely handed the captaincy to Smit, who will play the last two rounds of this season as sub pro.

Ramsbottom are currently fourth in Division One and could realistically finish second, something they see as success.