They may only be four games in to their maiden Lancashire League campaign but Clitheroe captain Paul Gaskell is already recognising a difference in class.
The Ribblesdale Cricket League champions, who defended their title three times in succession, are currently holding their own in their new surroundings as they sit fourth on 32 points.
The Chatburn Road skipper feels that quality runs deeper through opposing squads while professionals can win games single-handedly.
Todmorden’s Kelly Smuts has already set a new record this term, hitting 211 runs against Enfield, while Nelson’s Devon Conway fired a limited overs record 231 not out in his side’s victory over Rishton at Seedhill.
“Before the season started we spoke about how much of a challenge it was going to be,” he said. “There’s a lot more strength in depth in teams and you’ve got to take your chances or else you get punished.
“We’ve certainly noticed a difference in the top teams without a doubt. There’s a big difference in the quality of the professionals.
“Every week a pro is setting a new record. Fortunately we’ve not been on the receiving end yet. It’s really exciting to be a part of it. It’s only going to get better which is frightening really.”
Clitheroe picked up maximum points from the Horsfield at the weekend when beating Colne by 111 runs. The Dewhurst brothers were once again in stunning form with the bat as opener Charlie finished on 75 while Jack was unbeaten on 79.
Defending their 270-6 total, Harrison Phelan and Fawad Alam claimed three wickets apiece while Joshua Marquet and Sam Halstead cleaned up the rest.
However, their first experience of the Worsley Cup ended in defeat as Darwen did the damage.
The visitors won by seven wickets after eclipsing Clitheroe’s 212-8 finish in the Ribble Valley.
Jack Dewhurst top-scored with 56 while paid man Alam supported with 49. Phelan finished unbeaten on 40 and Tom Lord added 39.
But Ammer Mirza made the difference for Darwen, batting through until the finish as he hit 105 runs. Professional Calvin Savage added 38 and Mark Friend finished on 54 not out.
Clitheroe take on Accrington on home soil on Sunday.
“It’s another tough game; they just keep coming,” said Gaskell. “There’s no let up. The main thing at the moment is that we’re competing and holding our own.”