Read skipper Kyle O’Connor lauded sub-professional Rudi Second after the South-African kept the club on course for LCB Knockout Cup qualification.
The 24-year-old, who hails from Queenstown, Cape Province, hit a mesmerising 94 from 99 deliveries to help Read to a five-wicket win against Baxenden at Back Lane.
Second, who is averaging just over 160 runs per outing for Milnrow CC in the Central Lancashire League with 803 runs from 12 fixtures, smashed eight four and two sixes to keep Read within four points of rivals Settle.
“We had one of the best batting pros I’ve seen,” O’Connor said. “He was unbelievable and fully deserved his 94 not out. We were at 14-4 and he really helped us out. I was really nervous at that point.
“Sometimes you don’t get your money’s worth from sub professionals but he was quality. He bowled brilliantly and his batting display was on another level. You could tell he was a first class player.
“He’s already hit about 800 runs for Milnrow in the Central Lancashire League so having him around has given everyone something to aspire to. It was an excellent performance and reminded me of when Peter Sleep was at Read with how comfortable and easy he made it look.”
O’Connor also integrated the club’s youth players in to the senior starting XI and each repaid their captain’s faith by contributing to the triumph. Omar Hussain performed admirably with the ball as did Kieran Grimshaw and Jack Wood.
“It went well,” said O’Connor. “We had a young side out and they stepped up to the mark. Omar Hussain bowled brilliantly on his league debut and took five wickets, Kieran Grimshaw performed really well and Jack Wood’s efforts were rewarded with a wicket at the end of his seven over spell.”
Meanwhile, Padiham triumphed in final ball drama against Barnoldswick at the Arbories on Saturday before pushing unbeaten league leaders Clitheroe to the wire 24 hours later.
Professional Darryl Losper (51) and amateur batsman Anthony Hall (57) struck half centuries for the hosts as they culminated the innings with 228 runs. Visiting paid man Louis Delport took seven wickets for 74 runs.
In the reply, for Padiham player Abdul Saddique fell one run short of his century as his side fell a solitary run short of snatching a draw. “It was a great win for us on Saturday,” said Padiham captain Callum Clarke. “It went down to the last ball of the innings.
“We posted a decent score which was just enough in the end. It was a good all round performance. Abdul Saddique used to play for Padiham and he hit 99 which was almost enough to get Barnoldswick over the line.”
Clarke added: “They had to go for it on the final ball and thankfully we got the run out to win it. It was an exciting end to the game and those are the kind of fixtures you want to be involved in, especially if you come out on top. It was a very nervy end but we came through.”
However, Padiham couldn’t repeat their Ramsbottom Cup heroics against Clitheroe as they fell 32 runs short at Chatburn Road.
“We should’ve beat leaders Clitheroe as well,” Clarke said. “We managed to bowl them out for 200 which was good against a side who’d been averaging 250. I was confident we could knock them off and we started well enough. At the halfway stage we were cruising at 100-1 but then we had one of those famous Padiham collapses.
“We couldn’t keep up with the run rate once wickets fell which ultimately cost us. Their pro (Janaka Guneratne) bowled really well and limited us in the end. They didn’t want to get beat against us again.”