Carlisle Cricket Club were given a boost in the race for Cumbria Cricket League’s Premier Division title when leaders Furness slipped up.

While the city side were overcoming a potential banana skin at Millom, Cleator were seeing off Furness in west Cumbria.

It was a surprise, but one which Carlisle hoped for and needed, following their own recent defeat to Cockermouth.

Indeed, the form of the champions has turned the battle for the league crown into a three-horse race when, for the first-half of the season, it looked to be between only Furness and Carlisle.

Of the three contenders, Cockermouth appear to have the toughest assignment tomorrow when they travel to Keswick.

Carlisle are at home to the bottom side, Egremont, who have not won a league game all season and are heading for a quick return to Division One.

Furness are also at home against a Whitehaven side who are third-bottom with just three wins so far.

Egremont stalwart Mike Williams said: “The problem has been our batting because we just haven’t been able to put together decent scores.

"I don’t think we’ve batted out the 50 overs yet, and I reckon there have only been a couple of 50s.

“We know we are going back down again but the lads do feel they have a win in them and are determined to achieve that before the end of the season.”

That’s unlikely to come at Edenside, though, where Carlisle will be doubly intent on making no slip up.

They won well at Millom after bowling out the home side for 121, with some notable bowling efforts from Phil Frazer (3-29) and Henry Walker (3-6).

Professional Mike Slack suffered a rare failure with the bat but skipper Marc Brown (46 not out) and opener Ben Davidson (35) virtually saw Carlisle home to an eight-wicket win.

Wigton would have been reasonably happy to make 161 against in-form Cockermouth with Theo Manihera top-scoring with a run-a-ball 59, which included nine fours and two sixes.

But the champions are in good nick with the bat and took only 37.5 overs to reach 165-4, led by skipper Alex Grainger (83 not out).

No surprises in the main contributors to Keswick’s 228 all out against Dalton - Glen Weightman (67), Geeth Kumara (58) and William Atkinson (38).

But the main wicket-takers probably raised a few eyebrows after Dalton had been dismissed for 162.

Teenager Finn Turnbull took 3-22 while occasional bowler Joe Grisdale had 3-2.

Twenty four hours later, Keswick booked their place in the Higson Cup final with an eight-wicket home win against Egremont.

The visitors were bowled out for 100 and Keswick recovered from being 8-2 to win comfortably.

Keswick will play Furness in the final at Haverigg on Sunday, August 4.

This clashes with the Australian tourist T20 tournament event at Fitz Park and the club had enquired with the Cumbria Cricket League if they would switch the date of the cup final until a week later.

This they have declined to do, stating that the date for the final of the Higson Cup (founded in 1922) is set in concrete.

Keswick have accepted the decision and, as well as doing its best to win the Higson Cup for the first time since 2012, is also going ahead with the Aussie T20 tournament.

Plans for this have been in place since the turn of the year and the tournament will take the shape of two semi-finals and a final, featuring two sides from the Yarra Valley (Australia) and two representative teams, one being Cumberland Over-50s and the other an XI drawn from the Eden Valley Cricket League.

The 50 plus-strong party of Australians are staying at Keswick’s Skiddaw Hotel for a week as part of their UK tour for the Ashes.

The other Premier Division games tomorrow are: Dalton v Lindal; Millom v Cleator; Workington v Wigton.

Carlisle first-team youngster Stan Mcalindon, meanwhile, has been selected to represent the North of England at the annual Bunbury Festival at Felsted School, in Essex, next month.