Clitheroe are ready for a new challenge

Bowling for Ramsbottom CC, Sam Halstead against Burnley CC.
Bowling for Ramsbottom CC, Sam Halstead against Burnley CC.

Paul Gaskell claims that Clitheroe needed a new challenge after winning the Ribblesdale Cricket League title four times in succession.

The club lost just six league encounters in a sequence of 100 games to protect their crown and earn a move to the Lancashire League.

The Ramsbottom Cup winners, who beat Great Harwood by 25 runs in last season’s finale at Chatburn Road, also added the Twenty20 trophy to their collection for the first time in a decade, to emulate the treble they secured in 2006.

“When the opportunity arose to join the Lancashire League the decision was unanimous,” said the club’s captain. “It felt right, the natural move to make after all of our success. It’s a step up so they are exciting times.

“It’s what the players needed. At times in the Ribblesdale League they cruised through games but they can’t do that at this level. It’s a challenge and something that the players are looking forward to. It’s a sign of the club’s evolution.”

Clitheroe’s new venture begins with baptism of fire against Enfield at Dill Hall Lane on Sunday before they travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley the following week.

“It’s a bit of an unknown for us,” said Gaskell. “We’ve played the top sides in the Lancashire Cup so we’ve shown that we can compete. We want to show the league how good we are while playing some good cricket. We’ll see where that takes us.

“We won’t set any targets. We’ve got a tough start so we’ll see how we fare and then assess things after that. We want to finish in the top half and establish ourselves in that part of the division though.”

Having lost Matt Coulter and Bilal Ahmed, with the latter joining Ribblesdale Wanderers, Gaskell has been forced to strengthen.

The skipper has acquired the services of Padiham’s Kurt Robinson, while Nelson duo Sam Halstead and Harrison Phelan have also signed on.

Pakistani ace Fawad Alam will fill the void left by former professional Janaka Guneratne.