REIGNING Ribblesdale Cricket League champions Clitheroe have finally got off the mark.
Naeem Ashraf’s side had lost their opening games of the campaign against Salesbury, Great Harwood, Read and Settle, but they’ve finally had that obstructive weight lifted off their shoulders at the fifth bite of the Cherry.
The game at Preston Old Road against Andreas Sudnik’s Cherry Tree started optimistically as Jack Houldsworth and Andy Hutchins ousted Mark Hadfield and Scott Friend respectively after the hosts had posted just 18 runs on the board.
Professional Paul Turner remained unbeaten throughout the innings, but his knock of 42 from 89 deliveries proved too patient and measured to cause any kind of detriment to Clitheroe.
Saj Akhtar added 16 for the home side and Daniel Lord 27 as Cherry Tree ended on 104 but visiting sub-professional Qaiser Abbas stood out with the ball, taking 4-37, while Farouk Butt added 3-29, both having bowled a 10-over spell.
“It’s more relief at the moment I think because we desperately needed that win,” Ashraff said. “These youngsters have been working hard so it’s good for them. I’m delighted for them all.”
Andrew Pearce opened with 14 in the chase while Rizwan Shahid and Abbas both fired 27 to send Clitheroe to a five-wicket win, their first league triumph of the season. Ashraf added: “They’ve bowled really well and then performed well with the bat to chase down 104, which they did in less than 20 overs. We didn’t panic and we played good cricket. They were just very composed when batting, bowling and in the field.
“Hopefully that win will have had a big impact on their confidence now. We can play normal cricket now because the pressure is off. We just needed that break but now we’ve got Baxenden at the weekend who are a very good side. But we’ve got Joshua Marquis back who is a very good bowler.”
• IN the Craven and District League second division, Chatburn beat Wilsden on the final ball of the afternoon.
Mark Nerenberg was the star of the show as he smashed six fours and nine sixes on his way to 94 as the visitors ended on 200.
In reply, the hosts looked as though they would knock that tally off comfortably as they were 120 before the fall of the first wicket. But Russel Braithwaite inspired the away side to victory as he took 7-41 from 13 overs.