CREWE have snapped up Aizaz Cheema for the rest of the season after his superb bowling display helped them notch their first league win.
The convincing 62-run victory over visitors Caverswall on Saturday was inspired by Cheema, who returned 7-50 while standing in for injured professional Irfanuddin.
Crewe lost their first three wickets for just 42 after being put in. But Jo Boyle and Tom Gower came together and put on a fine partnership of 101.
Both home-grown players played an array of precision shots in an entertaining stand ended when Boyle was bowled for 63. Gower (43) followed shortly after but the momentum was continued by Cheema (22) and Annu Sinha (22no) before Crewe declared on 201-7.
In the Caverswall reply, Cheema bowled a hostile opening spell as he ripped out the first three batsmen for just 16 runs. After a mini-recovery, he took two more wickets to leave the visitors rocking on 56-5. Caverswall dug in and took the score to 87 before Phil Marsh broke through with a pair of wickets.
Cheema returned to action and grabbed another couple of wickets, including the vital removal of visiting professional Abdur Rehman (73). Nick Lange snapped up the last wicket to clinch victory and give Crewe 25 points.
A club spokesman said: 'Cheema was superb and we have now secured his services for the rest of the season.'
On Sunday, Tom Gower's brilliant 94 was not enough to prevent Crewe slipping to defeat at title-chasing Meir Heath.
The hosts batted first and rattled up 211-6 declared. Crewe's best bowler was Annu Sinha with 3-46 off 17 overs, while Cheema picked up 2-61.
In their reply, Crewe were soon up against it as the former Sussex leg spinner Andy Clarke snapped up three wickets. However, Gower was in top form as he cracked 12 fours and three huge sixes in a superb knock which ended when he was clean-bowled by John Baker.
Unfortunately, nobody was able to stay with him as Richard Marsh and Annu Sinha were the only others into double figures. Crewe were all out for 147.
Also in Division One, Haslington's dismal form continued when they suffered a 10-wicket mauling at Bignall End. The visitors batted first and were mown down by T Mughal (6-31), clumping all out for 91. The hosts romped to 93-0 and 20 points.
Matters did not improve on Sunday as Haslington entertained leaders Stafford. The visitors batted first and posted 237-6 declared (Robert James 101no, Matt Saive 3-47).
Richard Bebbington (26) top-scored for Haslington as they were decimated by Mark Bengry (6-41), finishing on 112ao. Haslington remain rock-bottom in the division.
Better news for the club was Dean Bedson's hat-trick as he returned 6-36 during the second team's win over Bignall End seconds.
Premier Division side Elworth missed a chance to leapfrog Stone when they were beaten in Staffordshire.
Elworth made a solid start. Pete Davies (40) and Ian Mitchell (37) provided a decent foundation but others were struggling to live with the Stone attack. Only Dave Palin (13), Rob Beech (10) and Russell Ballard (14) got into double figures as they were all out for 141.
Jim Higgins took the wicket of Sims for nought as Stone began their reply, and while Ballard also took out Jenkinson and Butters for no score, Cheadle (36) and Mohammed Hussain (65) made enough strides to ensure a win.
Stone finished on 145-7.
Richard Cooper's outstanding performance was not enough to save Betley from defeat at home to Little Stoke. Cooper batted throughout the opening innings, finishing on 118no as they declared on 231-6.
But Little Stoke openers R Haydon (55) and D Leese (69) wiped out Cooper's total and their teammates did enough to see them to victory, posting 237-7 and taking 20 points. nSecond-team scores - Premier Division: Elworth 112ao (K Ballard 49) Stone 113-4. Little Stoke 199-8 (R Goodwin 3-81) Betley 198-6 (D Lowe 99no, L Gray 35).
Division One: Caverswall 204-2 dec (Jake Edge 69) Crewe 84ao (D Cashmere 4-26). Haslington 199-9 dec (D Bedson 52, J Clayton 64) Bignall End 125ao (D Bedson 6-36).