PRESTWICH captain Andy Bradley believes Friday's morale-boosting victory over an England Masters XI inspired his side to their first win in four matches in the Greater Manchester League.
Bradley's men kicked off the weekend with a seven-wicket victory over a PCA Masters side that included the likes of Simon Jones, Owais Shah and Simon Harmison, as well as Lancashire legends Neil Fairbrother and Phil DeFreitas.
The game was arranged as the centre-piece of a charity event that raised more than £2,000 for the Lancashire Cricket Flood Appeal.
It proved a welcome distraction for the Prestwich players, who went into the weekend on the back of three straight defeats in the GMCL Premier Division, which had seen them knocked off the top of the table and fall to third, eight points behind leaders Egerton.
After becoming the first local side to beat the PCA Masters in five T20 outings this summer, Prestwich went on to claim a 108-run bonus-point victory at Bury in the league on Saturday.
"It had to be one of the best experiences I have ever had playing cricket, other than maybe winning cup finals and the league title," said Bradley, who took the wicket of Alex Tudor and caught out DeFreitas.
"And I think it really helped the boys.
"It reminded them what is important, to enjoy playing cricket rather than getting to wound up in their own performances.
"I wouldn't say they have struggled to handle the pressure of going for the title, but maybe they had stopped enjoying their cricket in recent wickets.
"Rather than just going out there and playing, they were maybe stewing over things that have happened, putting pressure on themselves.
"They were all so much more relaxed on Saturday, and I think the game on Friday just gave everyone a lift and a boost to their confidence."
Teenaged bowler Nathan Bailey took the important wickets of Shah (61 from 59 balls) and DeFreitas (44 from 27) to helped restrict the PCA Masters to 134-5 from their 20 overs.
Prestwich then knocked off the runs with 10 balls to spare, with openers Ryan Stanbury (46 from 32) and James Wharmby (30 from 42) giving them a great start before pro Marty Walters (13 not out from 15) and Sam Holden (37no from 16) guided them home.
The batsmen picked up where they left off against Bury, with Wharmby (70), Stanbury (64) and Walters (56) all getting half centuries as Prestwich posted a daunting total of 293-8.
Mike Finan took 3-17, with the remaining wickets shared around between four bowlers – Stanbury, Holden, Wilf Reeve and Tom Scott – as the hosts were bowled out for 185.
Bradley added: "On behalf of all the players I would like to thank the sponsors and particularly the chairman, Brian Lorenzini, for making the PCA Masters game happen.
"It was unbelievable to see a young teenager like Nathan Bailey keeping Owais Shah under wraps and then taking his wicket.
"Owais was playing in the Big Bash and IPL not so long ago.
"Hopefully, that experience will help us push on now."
Prestwich can force their way back into the title race on Saturday when they entertain second-placed Clifton, who are six points better off but have played a game more.