Clitheroe captain Paul Gaskell has welcomed the historic changes planned for the future of the Lancashire Leagu
The Ribblesdale Cricket League champions, alongside Darwen, were the catalysts for the transformation when breaking the norm this season and they’ll be joined by another seven clubs to take the total to 24 teams for the 2018 campaign.
Crompton became the seventh club to join from the Pennine League recently with Rochdale, Norden, Littleborough, Walsden, Middleton and Milnrow, all former members of the Central Lancashire Cricket League, also signing up.
The league, which has been in existence for 125 years, will then split in to two divisions for the first time in the league’s history in 2019 with clubs fighting for promotion and fighting against relegation.
“The clubs that are coming in will improve the standard of the league,” said Gaskell. “It’s what everybody wants. We’ve already noticed a difference in quality this year and it’s only going to get even better. They are exciting times for the Lancashire League.
“The competition will get even stronger, without a doubt. They are proven teams and big clubs. They will certainly improve the Lancashire League.
“Everybody wants to be in the top division so it will be a big challenge. We’ll be playing big sides every week.”
Gaskell added: “We are continuously trying to improve. The standard and level that we are playing at is far greater than what we are used to. Players are having to work far harder than what they’ve had to in the past.
“We’ll have to kick on again but we’re already working towards that and our club coach Mark Aspin has made training a lot sharper. We’re always looking to improve.
“There’ll be promotion and relegation so there won’t be many dead rubbers. There won’t only be a handful of clubs with something to play for anymore.
“It can only be good for the league. We saw first hand how it helped the Ribblesdale cricket League. There’s nothing worse than having nothing to play for. It adds to the excitement.”
Meanwhile, a sensational spell of bowling from Sam Halstead secured a 10 wicket win for Clitheroe against Church at Chatburn Road. The visitors were bowled out for a season’s low of 34 as Halstead took a career best 6-14 while Marcus Sharp added 4-20. Charlie Dewhurst (21) and Ali Ross (9) then took 7.1 overs to complete the chase.
Clitheroe’s abandoned Twenty20 quarter-final against Burnley on home soil has been rescheduled for Friday.
They’ll then travel to Rishton for a league fixture on Sunday.
Sam Halstead took 6-14 for Clitheroe