Champions off to a flying start thanks to Guneratne

Janaka Guneratne took 7-27 and made 34 not out as Clitheroe started their hunt for a title treble with a win over Baxenden
Janaka Guneratne took 7-27 and made 34 not out as Clitheroe started their hunt for a title treble with a win over Baxenden
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Janaka Guneratne picked up where he left off last season as Clitheroe made a winning start to the defence of their Houldsworth Ribblesdale League senior crown.

The Sri Lankan all-rounder finished third in the batting and bowling averages as the Chatburn Road side made it back to back titles in 2014.

And he set about improving on past performances as Clitheroe scored a six wicket home win over Baxenden.

Batting first, the visitors were dismissed for 98 with Guneratne taking 7-27. He was then unbeaten with 34 as the champions passed their target after 27 overs.

Clitheroe are at Euxton on Saturday, and Oswaldtwistle Immanuel on Sunday in the cup.

Read were one-wicket winners at Cherry Tree thanks to a defiant last wicket partnership. Elliot Lowes and Omar Hussain put on an unbroken 53 for the 10th wicket despite the best efforts of Brandon Diplock and Rob Ince.

Zimbabwean Diplock scored 71 on debut as Cherry’s overseas amateur out of 187-9 and Ince’s six wickets took Read to the brink of defeat.

However, Lowes and Hussain came to the rescue for last year’s fourth placers.

Read captain Kyle O’Connor said: “Winning the first game is always important and the way that we secured it shows that we have a lot of character in the side.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the way we battled our way to victory.

“We have to improve for the weekend though. Barnoldswick are always tough opposition to face as they have a strong batting line-up. I’m confident in the lads.”

Salesbury also got a win on the board, seeing off Edenfield by 71 runs after bowling their hosts out for 134, with Andrew Mercer taking 5-63.

Paid man Susantha Pradeep hit 65 as the Red Caps totalled 205-7.

Skipper Steve Brown said: “It was a brilliant start, we batted well and set a good base with James Watson (43) and Liam Parkinson (20) against a decent opening partnership, and then kicked on to a good score.

“It’s always good for the pro to get a score early on, it’s a confidence booster, and the rest chipped in as well.

“And Andrew Mercer and Sam Bristol bowled brilliantly.”

Salesbury are at Settle on Saturday, and Brown expects a tough test: “Settle will expect to compete for the title.”

Meanwhile, Ribblesdale Wanderers skipper Ian Britcliffe lauded the influence of professional Ryan Canning after the South African’s unbeaten century inspired the hosts to a 54-run triumph over Brinscall.

“He was exceptional,” said the Church Meadow captain. “It’s a really good start for him. It was superb and it was great to see us lot bat around him.

“He has a positive and calming influence, he communicates well and he’s very professional about what he does. It was massive for us to get that win.”

Britcliffe, who takes his side to Edenfield this weekend, added: “At 16-years-old Sam Jackson opened the batting for the first time and helped provide a platform. His performance was very mature. Mark Thompson also chipped in with five wickets to help us claim 12 points.”

Whalley’s season gets underway on Saturday, against Great Harwood at the Cliffe.