Clitheroe captain Ashraf hoping for pro boost

SKIPPER: Naeem Ashraf
SKIPPER: Naeem Ashraf

IT’S been a topsy-turvy couple of years for Clitheroe.

The Chatburn Road club reversed their fortunes in phenomenal fashion, transforming themselves from the bottom side in the Ribblesdale Cricket League in 2009 to league champions last year.

And it’s all change again as captain Naeem Ashraf looks for that elusive first victory of the 2011 campaign. Only Cherry Tree lie below Clitheroe in the hierarchy and the two sides meet at Preston Old Road on Saturday.

But Ashraf believes his young side need time to grow: “We’ve a young side with no experience what-so-ever. That’s the problem at the moment. I just feel we are missing a mature head on the field. Some of the lads are slightly naive and they just need time to grow in to it.”

The latest defeat saw Clitheroe fall by five wickets at Settle’s Marshfield Ground. Playing without a professional, Clitheroe performed admirably and climbed to 177-5 total. Ashraf himself top-scored with an unbeaten 46 and he was partnered through to the end of the innings by Rizwan Shahid who fired 42 not out. Josh McDowell had earlier opened the batting with 36.

But Settle shoed how important a professional’s input can be as James Rawlinson secured victory almost single-handed. The paid man smashed 15 fours and two sixes on his way to an unbeaten 106.

Ashraf added: “We had chances to take him and we dropped him once. But he batted really well and won the game for Settle. It would have been a different game if we’d have had a pro but we’re just doing the best with what we’ve got at the moment. They are all trying really hard.

“We did really well considering we didn’t have a professional. We’re just waiting on Kashif Siddique to arrive. He was the professional at Padiham and he did very well for them. He’s a big player and he’ll make a huge difference.”