League leaders face toughest task of the term

Ali Ross in action for Clitheroe
Ali Ross in action for Clitheroe

Paul Gaskell acknowledges that the forthcoming collection of games will be Clitheroe’s toughest test of the season so far.

However, the Chatburn Road captain insists that the pressure won’t be on the current Lancashire League leaders.

The club launches its Twenty20 campaign against Colne in the Pride of Pendle Group tomorrow evening, holding home advantage, and host third place Haslingden in the Ribble Valley the following day.

Clitheroe then round off the weekend’s triple-header with a trip to the Brooks Foundation Ground where they take on four-time champions Lowerhouse on Sunday.

“It’s going to be the biggest test of our season so far,” said the skipper. “We’ll probably know more about where we are after this weekend.

“We’re playing two very good sides in the league. It will be a test for us, we’ve played three games in a weekend before but the intensity at this level increases. It’s a better standard of cricket.

“We’re top but I don’t think some clubs would’ve expected that at the start of the season. There’s no pressure on us, these teams have got to beat us if they’re going to close the gap.

“We back ourselves to keep it up. If we get through this weekend unscathed then it would give us encouraging signs for the rest of the season.”

Clitheroe won the limited overs competition in the Ribblesdale Cricket League for only the second time last year but Gaskell admits that the squad is relishing another challenge.

“It’s never ending,” he said. “We’ve not had the best of records in the Twenty20. This is another challenge for us with the quality of the opposition here.

“We’re playing Colne whose pro is in great form. It’s going well for us but we know it can all change very quickly. We need to stay focussed.”

Clitheroe go in to the weekend in scintillating form with a 79-run over Great Harwood at the Cliffe their fifth victory from seven outings.

Ali Ross (40) and Jack Dewhurst put on 90 for the second wicket as the visitors finished on 254-4.

The latter was then joined by professional Fawad Alam and the pair formulated a 110-run stand. Dewhurst ended the innings on 91 while the Pakistan paid man ended unbeaten on 76.

The hosts, encouraged by Ashen Silva’s knock of 70, applied the pressure but Alam’s fabulous form extended to his bowling as he took 6-19 from 6.3 overs.