First cricket double-header could shape race for the league title

ON THE FRONT FOOT: Jack Dewhurst batting for Clitheroe on Saturday
ON THE FRONT FOOT: Jack Dewhurst batting for Clitheroe on Saturday
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IT may sound extremely premature, but the first double-header weekend in the Ribblesdale Cricket League could have a major influence on the outcome of the title chase.

Yes, only four games will have been played in the weekend’s culmination, and, yes, the season is a marathon rather than a sprint, but with Read facing fellow contenders Clitheroe and Barnoldswick respectively, both at home, at the weekend the table could start taking shape.

The Whalley Road side remained at the division’s summit alongside Barnoldswick after picking up maximum points against Whalley, though their victory was less than convincing.

Read’s paid man Lancashire all-rounder Jordan Clark showed his class to make 65, which included seven boundaries, out of the visitors’ modest 109 total.

Jon Harvey’s sensational stint of 5-23 off 13 overs in the reply then sealed maximum points as Richard Palmer’s men fell 26 runs short at Station Road, professional Wilkin Mota top-scoring with 18.

“We want to carry on our good start to the season,” said Read skipper Kyle O’Connor.

“It would definitely give us breathing space if we were to win both of them.

“They are both very good sides; Barnoldswick’s batting line-up is very strong and Clitheroe are strong in all departments.

“These are the games you need to win to have a chance of being up there. Picking up points against these sides, teams that will be challenging, early on would really set us up for the rest of the year. That’s where we slipped up last year. I have a few mates at Clitheroe so that should spice things up a bit.”

Paul Gaskell’s Clitheroe also recorded their second success of the season despite the clash against Great Harwood at Chatburn Road eventually falling victim to the rain.

Peter Dibb was the mainstay of the home side’s total of 169-7 while Jack Dewhurst added 36 to the proceedings. And while the game was eventually abandoned, with Harwood marooned on 75-4, Clitheroe bowled sufficient overs to claim a 10-point, run rate win.

“It was a good performance overall,” said Gaskell. “Stuart Lemon was out on the first ball and we lost our pro (Kashif Siddique) at the end of the first over so we were delighted with our total. As bowling attacks go in the league they are one of the best. I was very impressed with Ben Dowling and their pro (Syed Shahabuddin) is a quality player.”

Gaskell added: “The result showed the depth and character of the team. We’re going to take things one game at a time. We respect Read but we certainly don’t fear them and we’ll go there with confidence. Read will be up there at the end of the season, regardless of the result, but it would be nice for us to keep that winning momentum going.”

Clitheroe entertain Oswaldtwistle Immanuel on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Ribblesdale Wanderers recorded their first triumph of the season, beating Padiham by 61 runs at Church Meadow.

Ian Britcliffe’s side set their opponents a target of 143 after being bowled out. Steve Meehan was the star performer for Padiham, collecting five wickets at the expense of 61 runs. However, the away side could only conjure 82 runs in reply.

Wanderers host Baxenden on Saturday before travelling to The Cliffe to face Great Harwood on Sunday. Meanwhile, after a washout at the Applegarth between Earby and Salesbury, the league’s basement side, captained by Steve Brown, face Edenfield at Gincroft Lane on Saturday and go head-to-head with Padiham at the Arbories on Sunday.