As one door slams shut, another window of opportunity opens for Read Cricket Club.
A dip in form, with defeats to Euxton and Ribblesdale Wanderers in recent weeks, could’ve extinguished any hopes of LCB Knockout Cup qualification. However, there is hope for the Twenty20 champions. While Settle edged clear with 10 victories in 13 league outings, rivals Whalley have crashed to three losses from four fixtures, meaning the gap is now just eight points.
Ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Ribblesdale Wanderers at Church Meadow, O’Connor said: “We need to push hard in these remaining eight games and compete for the Lancashire Cup spot that we want.
“If we can pick up six wins then we should be there.”
O’Connor, whose side hasn’t finished outside the top four since 2007, added: “The league has split now so we’ll be playing everyone from Section A. This is when it will start to take shape because all the teams in the top tier have to play each other.”
Qualification for the county competition would signal a fruitful term for the Whalley Road outfit, with the second string adding the Lawrenson Cup to the cabinet.
Nabeel Ahmed partnered six batsmen as he hammered 14 fours and a six to contribute 102 to the home side’s total of 221. Captain Andrew Turner found the boundary on eight occasions in a composed knock of 46 while George Ashworth and Andrew Laycock added respective hits of 20 and 15.
In the reply, Frank Barden and Arron Carter took three wickets apiece with the former going for just 20 runs from a 10 over spell. Andrew Laycock added two scalps while Jennifer Laycock and Warren Eastham took the remainder.
O’Connor said: “We’ve stuck with the youth and the signs are good for the future. Nabeel has put pressure on me as senior captain after his match-winning performance. His second 50 was brilliant - he pushed the ball hard and over the ropes. Andy Turner added 46 and both Frank Barden and Andy Bennett used their experience well. The young lads did well in their first final as well. You could see what it meant to them. They were passionate and it was great to watch. This could become our most successful year in a decade.”
On Saturday, Read lost by one run to Ribblesdale Wanderers in a rain-reduced 20-over game. Wanderers posted 164-5 as Brannon Varley hammered an unbeaten 61, while opening pair, captain Charlie Jackson and overseas amateur Ben Dougall, added 25 and 26 to the cause respectively.
In the reply, paid man Brandon Scullard hit 50 and there was an unbeaten 57 from Elliot Lowes , but Ian Britcliffe took Ian Britcliffe 5-59 as Read fell agonisingly short.
Meanwhile, a busy weekend lies ahead at Whalley Road. Tonight sees the Twenty20 clash between a Read XI and a South Africa XI consisting of current pro Brandon Scullard, Brett Pelser, Daryn Smit, Rudi Second, Werner Coetsee, Ockert Erasmus, Christiaan Jonker, Cobus Pienaar, Ryan Sadler, Louis Delport and Darryl Losper.
Then, on Sunday, the club will be hosting the regional Twenty20 stage which will include Great Ayton CC, Methley Cricket Club and South Northumberland CC. Entry is free for both events and there’ll be a BBQ and raffle on for all who attend.
Meanwhile, Salesbury lost by 29 runs to Barnoldswick on Saturday as they lost ground to Cherry Tree and Earby in their hunt for promotion from Section B.
Barlick posted 214-5, as Umar Siddique hit 90, and captain Luke Hodgson 77 not out.
Salesbury hit 185-9 in reply, with 74 from Scott Wharton as Louis Delport took 8-69.
Edenfield v Clitheroe and Whalley v Baxenden were abandoned.